THUMBS UP to the Boston Globe‘s Charles Radin Jerusalem bureau chief, and Globe reporter Dan Ephron for their April 29 article entitled “Claims of massacre go unsupported by Palestinian fighters,” which represents an unusual effort to get beyond the “he said/she said” counter-allegations concerning Israel’s actions in Jenin. Rather than simply reporting the competing claims of officials on each side, Radin spoke with Palestinian fighters and others on the scene to get their version of events.
The reporters write: “In interviews yesterday with teenage fighters, a leader of Islamic Jihad, an elderly man whose home was at the center of the fighting, and other Palestinian residents, all of whom were in the camp during the battle, none reported seeing large numbers of civilians killed. All said they were allowed to surrender or evacuate when they were ready to do so, though some reported being mistreated while in Israeli detention.”
The article goes on to point out that the first-hand testimony of this diverse group of interviewees directly contradicts the claims of Palestinian officials, who said that “more than 500 people, mostly women and children, were killed in the camp and that many of the dead were buried by Israeli forces in mass graves.”
Radin and Ephron also note that Amnesty International’s charges against Israel were contradicted by the Palestinian witnesses. The group had falsely said that “Israel failed to provide safe passage from the camp to noncombatants.”
In addition, the article conveys how the Palestinian “street” can affect the veracity of a witness’ statement. For example, one young witness, Abdel Rahman Sa’adi, initially states, “This was a massacre of the Jews, not of us.”
But, Radin and Ephron continue: “Prompted by bystanders, he revised his statement. ‘I think there was a massacre here–maybe 100 people,’ he said.”