Yes, that was the caption of this dramatic video published by Sky News. “Soldiers Shoot Protesters” ran the headline.
Right on cue, the kiddies at Indymedia spring into action, photocompositing Nazi insignia and Israeli military images and embelishing the story to fit some kind of pre-orgasmic narative that justifies having splashed out on blu-tack to put up that poster of Che and the five quid for that Hezbollahoodie from the SWP fleamarket.
Adopting the voice of a mythical Israeli Army spokesperson, the Indymedia report tells the story in fake direct quotes:
“[D]ozens of civilians had barricaded themselves in the mosque Thursday night to avoid being shot by Israeli forces who have been killing in the town since early Wednesday… We are making every effort to harm and destroy the mosque itself. However the object of the entire mission is to terrorize those who are inside, to kill them.”
So there we have it – the evil ZioNazi Army opens fire of unarmed and defenseless women seeking refuge in a Mosque. The incident will go down in infamy and the tales of this horror will be endlessly repeated.
But what’s the real story?
According to The Times:
“A Hamas radio station in Gaza broadcast a call this morning for women to go to the mosque to serve as human shields for militants.”
“Israeli troops opened fire this morning on a group of women who surrounded a Gaza mosque to serve as human shields for Palestinian gunmen seeking refuge there, reportedly killing one and wounding at least ten others.”
It seems that around 60 Hamas gunmen who had previously been engaged in a firefight with Israeli troops retreated to the mosque, continued to exchange fire and then called in unarmed women to interpose themselves between them and the Israelis while they made their getaway. A BBC story confirms this.
Now the question is: is a person who deliberately enters a conflict zone to interpose themself between combatents with the express aim of shielding one side “an innocent civillian”? Are they not simply unarmed combatants?
The notion of ‘unarmed combatant’ is not without precedent. The Russians employed penal battalions during WWII. The idea was to force them to draw away enemy fire and to shield the regular troops. Often only a small percentage were armed and they were instructed to pick up the rifles of fallen comrades and continue advancing.
Now, while every death is its own tragedy, there is a world of difference between the notion that the Israelis deliberately target civillians, and the reality that some civillians – unarmed – deliberately make themselves targets so that their armed comrades can escape to fight another day.
This latest operation by the Israelis is in response to Hamas militants using the area for launching rocket attacks on Israel.
The Guardian notes: “More than 20 Palestinians, most of them militants, have been killed since the offensive began… Militants, however, continued to fire rockets at Israeli border communities.”
If you have Windows Media Player installed, you can watch the Sky News Video.
David T adds:
The BBC is reporting:
However, following an appeal on Hamas radio, more than 100 women approached the compound in groups.
“We risked our lives to free our sons,” Um Mohammed, a woman in her 40s, told the AFP news agency afterwards.
“Hundreds of us entered the mosque and surrounded the resistance fighters to protect them,” 21-year-old Nidaa al-Radih said.
With the gunmen shielded within their midst, the women ran to an area north-west of the town which is clear of Israeli troops.
Hamas radio has since reported that all of the militants in the mosque had escaped and were uninjured.