The call came to the cellphone of his brother’s wife, Salah Kaware said Tuesday. Mr. Kaware lives in Khan Younis, in southeast Gaza, and the caller said that everyone in the house must leave within five minutes, because it was going to be bombed.
A further warning came as the occupants were leaving, he said in a telephone interview, when an Israeli drone apparently fired a flare at the roof of the three-story home. “Our neighbors came in to form a human shield,” he said, with some even going to the roof to try to prevent a bombing. Others were in the stairway when the house was bombed not long afterward.
Seven people died.
This is from a New York Times article this week. I’m not against the NY Times, and there are far worse media in their treatment of Israel, but the article is a great example of the powerful change in a story you can get from a bias in focus.
Several facts immediately are conveyed by the above lede: Israelis are targeting specific buildings and making some attempt to minimize human, or at least civilian, casualties. Despite the warnings, some Palestinians are choosing to die as martyrs. Later in the article, it is given that the house was named as an Israeli target due to its (alleged) use for Hamas military operations. It is also given that the Israelis use air-dropped leaflets that warn of attacks and plead with Gazans not to be used as human shields, as well as firing warning shots when it believes civilians are present.
So you would think the article would be about what is really an unprecedented level of warning in a combat zone, how much this endangers Israeli forces, whether this should be the new norm in warfare. Or you might expect an article about the death toll in Gaza, and consider how an attacking force can minimize death when segments of the population are setting out to get killed. Because these ideas are suggested by the facts reported.
It might discuss Hamas ordering Gazans to stay inside buildings they know will be destroyed. And we know how Hamas deals with traitors.
Instead, the article focuses on Hamas- and self-identified human rights groups- spokespeople opining on how these warnings are no reparation for Israeli war crimes- which are never specified, let alone substantiated.
Here’s the strange turning point:
But the events on Tuesday were another example of a contentious Israeli policy in which occupants of a building about to be bombed or shelled are given a brief warning in Arabic to evacuate. The Israelis have used such telephone calls and leaflets for years now, in a stated effort to reduce civilian casualties and avoid charges of indiscriminate killings or even of crimes against the rules of war.
Wait, contentious? It’s contentious to warn civilians when buildings are to be destroyed? Are there actually going to be anyone in the article arguing that the warnings are, of themselves, bad? No, that actually never happens. And what about that “stated effort” to reduce killings. What other motivation is there for doing something that inherently hampers and endangers your military? It doesn’t say.
Instead of interviewing Israeli leaders about the policy, or Hamas leaders about the use of human shields, which would be the way to actually follow the story, the article steps neatly into the total non-sequitur of Hamas and so-called human rights spokespeople accusing Israelis of being war criminals. And that’s how the article ends. No Israelis are ever quoted.
So an article which starts with facts which suggests that Israelis are trying to reduce civilian deaths while Gazans are purposely increasing civilian deaths, instead becomes a forum for three quotes on unspecified Israeli war crimes.