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January 13, 2009

NY Times' Unethical Omission

In an article about the gap between Israeli opinion and much of world opinion about Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip, the New York Times' Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner omits key information which underscores the Israeli position that the Israeli army is acting justly. He reports:

Moshe Halbertal, a left-leaning professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University, helped write the army’s ethics code. He said he knew from personal experience how much laborious discussion went into deciding when it was acceptable to shoot at a legitimate target if civilians were nearby, adding that there had been several events in this war in which he suspected that the wrong decision had been made.

For example, Israel killed a top Hamas ideologue, Nizar Rayyan, during the first week of the war and at the same time killed his four wives and at least nine of his children. Looking back at it, Mr. Halbertal disapproves, assuming that the decision was made consciously, even if Mr. Rayyan purposely hid among his family to protect himself, as it appears he did. Yet almost no one here publicly questioned the decision to drop a bomb on his house and kill civilians; all the sentiment in Israel was how satisfying and just it was to kill a man whose ideology and activity had been so virulent and destructive.

But, as reported by the Independent (and confirmed by the UN's OCHA),

The family were warned 30 minutes earlier by the Israel Defence Forces that the house would be attacked, but Mr Rayan's son-in-law, Mahmoud Albaik, said they had refused to leave and that, urged by his son in a telephone call to leave seconds before the attack, he had said: "I want to be a martyr."

Thus, it wasn't an Israeli decision to "kill noncombatants," but a Hamas decision, carried out by Rayan himself, to let his family die. Isn't the fact that the family was given 30 minutes notice prior to the bombing absolutely essential to any discussion about the morality of IDF actions? Whether or not Halbertal was aware of this critical point, it is Bronner's obligation to report it. Bronner wasn't the first to overlook this key information.

Posted by TS at January 13, 2009 02:43 AM


So are the family of the terrorist Rayan included in the "Palestani hospital sources"-count as "civilians"?

Clearly they are not Civilians. They chose to die as "martyrs" with their terrorist father Rayan.

It is sick that the Western media continue to publish the erronous "Palestani hospital"-sources-county.

Not any old children, or wife, to a terrorist should be counted as a civilian. They should be in an own category. They chose to a support a terrorist; and their support helped this terrorist to do attacks against Israelis.

Read more here:

From Anders Branderud
Geir Toshav, Netzarim (

Posted by: Anders Branderud at January 13, 2009 03:09 PM

"Coerced children" could be its own category of civilians.

Posted by: Adam at January 13, 2009 06:38 PM

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