A September 3, 2004 AP article attempted to put the horrific terror attack against the Russian schoolchildren into context. The article, “Extremists aiming at ‘soft targets,’ ” states that “Extremists have become chillingly brazen in singling out so-called ‘soft targets’ — and counterterrorism experts say they fear nothing is off-limits anymore to those intent on achieving maximum punch, publicity and paranoia.”
In the final five paragraphs, however, the reporters point to what they apparently see as an exception — Palestinian “militant groups”:
Palestinian militant groups are unlikely to follow the Russian militants’ lead and take schoolchildren hostage because it could detract from their aim to be seen as “resistance fighters, not terrorists,” Rashwan said.
The Quran admonishes the followers of Islam that not even the children of infidels should be killed. The Palestinian militant group Hamas contends its policy is not to target children, although it justifies attacks on civilians to avenge Israeli army attacks on ordinary citizens.
“We are freedom fighters, not gangs,” a senior Hamas official in Gaza told the AP. “Women and children are not a target for Hamas. They have never been a target and they will never be our main target despite the daily killing of our women and children by Israel in cold blood.”
Abu Mahmoud, a spokesman for the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank, said the group was “shocked by what we see on television” about the Russian school standoff.
“We would never agree to such a thing,” he said. “We never did such a thing and never would. When there is an explosion and children are killed, we are sorry for this because this was a mistake, not on purpose.”
Not on purpose? How did an editor let this pass without any counterpoint from the reporter or anyone else? Why were these last 5 paragraphs included at all when their message of Palestinian concern for Israeli children is utter nonsense?
The last five paragraphs were likely written by Ibrahim Barzak, reporting from Gaza City. He included a similar whitewash of Arafat’s calls to attack Israel. Other reporters contribuing to the piece are identified as Beth Gardiner in London and Paul Garwood in Cairo. The bylined writer is William J. Kole.
Palestinian terrorists deliberately target children
Palestinian terrorists have deliberately targeted children in numerous attacks, recently and in years past. The children were not accidental victims, but were intentionally shot or bombed. For example:
- March 5, 2003, Palestinian terrorists chose to bomb Bus 37 in Haifa shortly after school let out. The bus is on a school route and 9 schoolchildren were among the 17 killed in that attack. Dozens of children were wounded.
- December 3, 2003, Palestinian terrorists planned to blow up schoolchildren at the Ort Alon High School in Yokneam, the sister city of St. Louis. Thankfully, due to Israeli intelligence sources and the security fence, the Israelis were able to catch the bombers before they reached the school.
- On May 2, 2004, terrorists ambushed the car of Tali Hatuel, who was 9 months pregnant, and shot her and her four young daughters, aged 2, 7, 9 and 11. It was daylight and the terrorists obviously knew they were killing four small children because they shot them all at point blank range.
Suicide terrorists see exactly who they are going to kill before they detonate themselves. If they didn't want to kill children, they could walk out of their chosen restaurants, buses and teen discos, and choose a different target when they saw that many children were present.
- June 1, 2001, a Palestinian terrorist chose to detonate himself among a long line of teenagers , their youth clearly visible to him, at the Dolphinarium disco in Tel Aviv. 11 teenagers under the age of 18 were among the dead.
- Mar 2, 2002 - Outside of a Jerusalem synagogue, a terrorist detonated a bomb next to a group of mainly women standing outside with their young children, several in baby carriages . The victims: Shlomo Nehmad (40), his wife Gafnit (32), and their daughters Shiraz (7) and Liran (3); Avraham Eliahu Nehmad, (7), Shaul Nehmad (15); Lidor Ilan (12) and his sister Oriah (18 months); Tzofia Ya'arit Eliyahu (23) and her son Ya'akov Avraham (7 months); and Avi Hazan, (37). The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade took responsibility for the attack.
- Aug 19, 2003 - Twenty-three people were killed, including 7 children when a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated himself on a No. 2 Egged bus in Jerusalem's Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood. The bus was filled with children. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The child victims: Shmuel Taubenfeld, 3 months, of New Square, New York; Shmuel Zargari, 11 months; Tehilla Nathanson, 3; Issachar Reinitz, 9; Avraham Bar-Or, 12; Binyamin Bergman, 15; Elisheva Meshulami, 16.
- November 20, 2000, terrorists attacked a bus carrying children from Kfar Darom to school in Gush Katif. 5 children were injured, many of whom had limbs blown off.
- On Mar 26, 2001, a Palestinian sniper took aim at 10 month old Shalhevet Pass, who was sitting in her stroller. She was fatally shot in the head. This was hardly an “accident.” She was the target, even though her father was standing right beside her.
- Nov. 10, 2002, Revital Ohayon, 34, and her two sons, Matan, 5, and Noam, 4, were shot to death by an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorist who broke into their home at Kibbutz Metzer.
- May 9, 2001 — Yossi Ish-Ran, 14, and Kobi Mandell, 14 , both of Tekoa, were savagely beaten to death with stones in a cave about 200 meters from the small community south of Jerusalem where they lived.
The attacks mentioned above are just a few of the many many recent Palestinian terrorist attacks that took place even though the presence of children was clearly known to the terrorists.
In years past, children were also targeted. For example:
- May 22, 1970 - Avivim, Israel
Palestinian terrorists attack schoolbus , killing 12 (9 of whom were children), and wounding 24.
- May 15, 1974 - Maalot, Israel
DFLP terrorists held children hostage in a Ma'alot school. Of the 27 Israelis murdered, 21 were children. 78 were wounded.
Israelis do not have policy of targeting noncombatants
The AP article also stated that the Israeli army “attacks...ordinary citizens.”
...Hamas contends its policy is not to target children, although it justifies attacks on civilians to avenge Israeli army attacks on ordinary citizens.
It's not clear whether that phrase — “Israeli army attacks on ordinary citizens” — is a paraphrase of the Hamas statement or the reporter's own thought. Either way, in a fair, objective article, it should have been followed by a statement such as: “However, Israel denies this. Israel claims that the Israeli army targets only combatants and it deeply regrets when civilians are inadvertently harmed.”
Tragically, sometimes “ordinary citizens” are hurt in Israeli military strikes, but there is no Israeli policy to deliberately do so. The terrorists and combatants hide among civilians, which is a war crime, and any harm that comes to those civilians is the fault of the terrorists, not Israel. Israel takes great pains to minimize injury to bystanders.
Palestinian terrorists do target women
The article included a statement by “a senior Hamas official in Gaza," who told the AP.
Women and children are not a target for Hamas. They have never been a target and they will never be our main target despite the daily killing of our women and children by Israel in cold blood.
This is more unrebutted propaganda rather than factual information. Hamas is responsible for numerous bus bombings that have killed scores of women and children.
Taking into account terror attacks by Hamas and other terror organizations from Sept 27, 2000 until May 1, 2004, the International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT) has found that Palestinians have killed 921 Israelis, 715 (78%) of whom were noncombatants. 280 of the noncombatants killed were women. This means that 30% of the Israelis killed by Palestinians were noncombatant women. In contrast, Israel has killed 91 (3%) noncombatant Palestinian women during military strikes or security actions.
30% vs 3%. It appears that if one makes an effort, as Israel does, to target combatants, noncombatant women will only be a tiny percentage of those hurt. Hamas and the other terror organizations have obviously made few such efforts to shield noncombatant women from harm.
To see the ICT data, go to www.ict.org.il. Under Databases, click on Arab-Israeli Conflict.
They are terrorists, not "resistance fighters"
“Resistance fighters” target their enemy's military — not civilians. People who target civilians for political violence are “terrorists.”
It must also be remembered that this current wave of Palestinian terror began shortly after Israel offered a generous and comprehensive peace agreement to the Palestinians which would have resulted in their own state. There was no need for a single act of violence against Israel's military (and certainly not civilians) if the Palestinians' true goal were to gain a Palestinian state beside Israel (not instead of Israel). Negotiations would have successfully led to a reasonable solution for both sides.
The final five paragraphs of the AP article have no basis in fact and serve only to whitewash some of the worst perpetrators of terrorism against children. In publishing Palestinian terrorists’ propaganda at face value without providing the facts that contradict the terrorists’ statements, AP is departing from journalistic norms.