Yesterday on Twitter, Melanie Phillips unleashed a devastating barrage of tweets against a forthcoming BBC program about Gaza. It included this:
— Melanie Phillips (@MelanieLatest) July 8, 2015
Noted Israel hater Ben White (we’ve mentioned him many times) took exception to this:
Now Melanie Phillips has written the following on Facebook:
Ben White tweeted today as shown above.
Venomous rubbish. Your “blockade-busting commercial tunnels” were used by Hamas to smuggle into Gaza not just routine supplies but also arms and ammunition whose sole purpose was to murder as many innocent Israelis as possible, including children.
I cited the JCPA report on the falsification of Gaza casualty figures. (1) This noted:
“An old news item resurfaced during Operation Protective Edge saying that 160 Palestinian children were killed while digging Gaza tunnels. The original story appeared in the Journal of Palestine Studies 39 in an article entitled ‘Gaza’s Tunnel Phenomenon,’ by Nicolas Pelham. In December 2011, Pelham toured the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Sinai. He found ‘nothing was done to impede the use of children in the tunnels, where, much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies. At least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials.’
“There was no international outrage against Hamas at the time for leading children to their deaths in underground passageways, nor is it clear how many Palestinian children died in the summer of 2014 – and were counted as civilian casualties – as a result of Hamas forcing them to serve as human shields and soldiers in its ongoing war against Israel.”
You appear to be relying upon a “correction” published by the Journal of Palestine Studies (2) no less than two years after it published Pelham’s article, and only after this had resurfaced causing a media frenzy and had been cited by Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu. This “correction” ran as follows:
“The Journal of Palestine Studies must, however, admit to an unfortunate editorial error in the article by Pelham it printed: the figure of 160 children killed in commercial tunnels is inaccurate. In the JPS text, Pelham purportedly says: “At least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials.” Rather, the figure 160 reflects the total number of deaths in the tunnels recorded by the Hamas authorities as of 2012. The qualifier “children” was inadvertently added by JPS at a late stage of editing. [My emphasis] In fact, as of January 2013, al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza put the total number of Palestinians killed in the commercial tunnels at 235, only 9 of whom were children.”
You assume the figure of “only nine children” killed in the tunnels to be true, ignoring the fact that Palestinian casualty figures have been shown to be utterly unreliable. Indeed, the al Mezan Centre was previously reported as claiming that 13 children had been killed in the tunnels. How come they suddenly found four of them alive? Moreover, since the majority of tunnel workers were adolescents — the pro-Palestinian group B’tselem claimed in 2009 that “most of the workers in the tunnels are youths under 18” (3) – this proportion of tunnel casualties was clearly unsustainably low.
More pertinently, you do not acknowledge that the Journal of Palestine Studies claims that it added the word “children” itself to the 160 figure, thus maintaining that this was an error for which it was itself unaccountably responsible. No explanation was given for this apparently gratuitous distortion of Pelham’s own words. It also failed to address the fact that the phrase ‘160 children”, attributed to Pelham, directly followed his account of the unchecked use of children in the tunnels which he saw when he accompanied a police patrol in Gaza in December 2011.
Of course, you tell your credulous readers nothing of any of this context.
As you know perfectly well, I did not ever “cheer Israel as it bombed [Palestinian children] to pieces”. I supported Israel in its attempt to stop Hamas and Islamic jihad murdering Israeli civilians en masse, as it was attempting to do. I very much regretted the loss of innocent civilian life in Gaza, and deplored the fact that Hamas was using Gaza’s children as human sacrifices by deliberately siting its missiles around them, thus turning them into military targets which is a war crime. I noted that, despite this inhuman behaviour by Hamas, the IDF made more attempts to avoid the loss of innocent life, even at the cost of its own soldiers’ lives, than any army has ever done in the history of warfare.
Your false accusation against me is therefore nothing less than outright incitement to hatred by the use of incendiary falsehoods, the very tactic used against Israel for which you yourself are infamous and which you so nauseatingly deploy against me here.