CAMERA Op-Ed: The Washington Post and the Truth About Gaza

It turns out that genocidal Islamist terrorist groups are bad at governing. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. But apparently it is to The Washington Post. The newspaper’s Jan. 2, 2020 dispatch decried living conditions in the Gaza Strip, but failed to place blame where it belongs: with Hamas, the U.S.-designated terror group that rules the Strip.

Citing a 2012 U.N. report, the Post asserted that Gaza would “become unlivable by 2020” if “prevailing economic, environmental and political trends continued.” It is, the Post said, “a bleak reality facing Gaza’s 2 million Palestinian residents as they approach a new year and new decade.”

Reporters Miriam Berger and Hazem Balousha highlighted some of the issues facing Gaza: a sea filled with sewage “pumped in because there’s not enough electricity and infrastructure to run Gaza’s war-torn sewage system.” The “hospitals, schools and homes” that are “similarly running on empty, worn down by the lack of clean water, electricity, infrastructure and jobs or money.”

“Barely anyone,” they write “has enough clean water to drink.” The Post quotes some Palestinians. The newspaper also uncritically cites the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.N. itself. Contravening standard journalistic practices, no Israeli official is quoted.

And important facts and context are omitted.

As CAMERA’s Ricki Hollander noted in a June 26, 2019 report on the organization, “WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean division is overtly partisan: Its website consistently refers to the disputed land of the West Bank and Gaza as ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’ and, along with its reports, include incendiary propaganda claims, with the WHO imprimatur.” In its annual meeting in May 2019, the WHO passed a resolution singling out Israel—and only Israel—for blame. Astonishingly, as U.N. Watch highlighted, there was no mention of healthcare catastrophes in Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, or sub-Saharan Africa.

As Hollander documented, “Shortcomings in healthcare delivery to Palestinians are blamed on Israel, with no acknowledgement of the role of the Palestinian leadership – either Hamas or the PA – in the conflict itself or in the decisions it makes that compromise healthcare delivery.” Other WHO reports have similarly ignored the responsibility of Palestinian leadership, including omitting terrorists’ subverting of medical ambulances, Hamas’s rejection of essential medical supplies from Israel, or Hamas’s diversion of resources to benefit its terrorist infrastructure.

Nor does WHO highlight the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) reduction of essential services and halting of medical shipments to Gaza or the PA’s role in delaying or suspending payments for the referral of patients to medical treatment outside Gaza.

Unmentioned by the Post, Israel is a world leader in water purification and preservation. Israeli technology could assist Gazans, but Hamas refuses to recognize the Jewish state’s legitimacy.

And this is the crux of the problem, both with the Post’s reporting and the situation itself: Hamas is an Islamist terrorist group that calls for the destruction of Israel. Its entire reason for existing is to achieve this objective, a fact that its founding charter—which approvingly cited Adolf Hitler—makes clear. Hamas uses its people as human shields, heralds suicide bombers, and encourages the Gazans living under its rule to be “martyrs” and carry out terrorist attacks.

Put simply: Hamas does not believe in the sanctity of human life, for either Palestinians or Israelis. Is it really surprising then that the group has failed to invest in its own people, when it only sees them as expendable ammunition in its ceaseless war against the Jewish state?

Hamas has a long history of misusing international aid. As an Oct. 14, 2013 USA Today report noted, materials sent to Gaza to build its infrastructure have instead been used to construct terror tunnels from which to launch attacks. These materials were meant to build schools, roads, clinics, hospitals, and housing units—but as photographic evidence showed, Hamas was using them with murderous intent. By some estimates, each tunnel takes $3 to 10 million (USD) to build. Yet, when the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have found and destroyed these tunnels, Hamas has sworn that it would build “thousands” more.

Despite its genocidal objectives, WHO also relies on the Hamas-controlled Gazan Health Ministry for statistics—a profound error replicated by the Post’s other sources, like the U.N. and UNRWA.

Indeed, these entities are also part of the problem, as CAMERA highlighted in a Dec. 13, 2018 Fox News op-ed, “The United Nations anti-Israel bias is undeniable.” The U.N. consistently singles out Israel for opprobrium, a demonstrable fact highlighted by its votes and by scholarship and statements by numerous U.S. Ambassadors and administrations.

Schools run by UNRWA have been caught promoting antisemitic material and anti-Jewish violence and, as CAMERA has documented, the organization’s staff has included actual operatives for terrorist groups.

As recently as Dec. 23, 2019, UNRWA’s former longtime spokesman, Chris Gunness glorified the murder of Palestinian collaborators. In a bizarre and revealing tweet, Gunness posted a poem—later deleted—about “collaborators” twitching “as they hung in the air on the lamp posts that glistened in Palestine square.” A little more than a week later, The Washington Post saw fit to treat UNRWA as a credible source.

By minimizing the responsibility of Palestinian leadership—indeed, in some cases by sharing its goals of delegitimizing the Jewish state and condoning terror—these international bodies are enabling Hamas.

For its part, the Post itself even regurgitates Hamas propaganda, claiming, “Palestinians liken” Gaza to “an open-air prison.” But there is precious little questioning of who the actual jailer is and who constructed that prison.

For example, The Post fails to tell readers that Palestinians overwhelmingly elected Hamas in 2006 elections against Fatah—elections that followed a five-year-long terror wave, known as the Second Intifada. The Post also omits that Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and only initiated a defensive blockade after Hamas began launching rockets in the wake of the Israeli withdrawal.

While many Gazans do suffer, Hamas leaders live in luxury. Top leaders, like Moussa Abu Marzouk and Khaled Mashal, are billionaires. Many maintain houses abroad, in Turkey, Qatar and elsewhere. As Suheib Yousef, the son of the group’s co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, recently told an interviewer: “Hamas leaders live in fancy hotels and luxury towers, their kids learn at private schools and they are very well paid by Hamas. They get between four and five thousand dollars a month, they have guards, swimming pools, country clubs.”

Terrorists, it seems, make for poor rulers—a truth that even anti-Israel organizations and the press should be able to understand.

(Note: A slightly different version of this article appeared as an Op-Ed in the Algemeiner on Jan. 9, 2020)

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