Patrick Martin of Toronto's Globe & Mail has investigated the clash between the IDF and Hamas gunmen near the UN school in Gaza that led to the tragic death of 43 civilians and concluded that the facts simply do not support the accepted story that the school was shelled and that not a single civilian inside the school died.
"Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed.
"Stories of one or more shells landing inside the schoolyard were inaccurate.
"While the killing of 43 civilians on the street may itself be grounds for investigation, it falls short of the act of shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers."
This gives rise to several issues including the way the story was initially reported and the subsequent conduct of UNRWA spokespeople who had a gread deal to say about the incident in the aftermath and I will cover these issues in later posts.
However, for now I will simply reflect on the Melbourne Age's initial treatment of the story by returning to an item I posted on 7 January 2009 under the heading - THE AGE SLAUGHTERS THE TRUTH:
The Age on line edition is carrying this one-sided AFP report headlined on its home page as follows:-Israeli school slaughter
6:04am Air strike kills 45 taking refuge inside Gaza Strip school flying UN flag, medics say.
The story carries a different headline - Israeli strike kills 40 in UN school. It tells about the deaths of up to "45 people seeking refuge in a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip" (i.e. the school was run by UNRWA - one of the largest employers of Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip) is a totally one-sided version of the incident suggesting this was a callous attack on innocents. This version is typical of AFP fairness and balance in that the 490 word article written by an unamed "journalist" ends with the following 22 words which is the only part of the story that deals with the Israeli side of the story:-
Israel said it would investigate the attacks on the schools. It accuses Hamas of using schools, mosques and residential areas for cover.
This time last week the Melbourne Age was running apologies for the publication of an antiSemitic column by one of its business writers. Will there now be another apology from the Age over the publication of this grossly inaccurate and misleading report?