Friday, September 15, 2006

15-Sep-06: Tonight in Rafah

Another Rashomon moment.

IDF intelligence sources in recent days identified a building in Rafah at the southern end of the Gaza Strip, close to the border with Egypt, that was serving as the concealed entrance to an arms-smuggling tunnel. This past night (Thursday/Friday), IDF planes bombed the building and destroyed it. No persons were hurt.

Experience tells us that if this event is reported in any form at all, it will be along the lines of a Gaza grandmother in dusty black robe, sitting on the ground, arms stretched to the heavens, wailing over the cold-blooded destruction by the Zionist occupation forces of yet another refugee dwelling. When we spot the pictures on any of the usual picture sites, we'll copy one here. Meanwhile we'll tap into our archive. (To be clear, losing your home is a misery. But everything we have learned about how images are willingly manipulated by activist photographers and editors tells us you must ask questions and demand to know the context. Most people don't, and they are routinely served visual falsehoods.)

The reality is, as always, a little different from the spin.

The building in Rafah serves terrorism. The smuggling activity conducted from within it is not calculated to deliver fresh eggs to the hungry of Rafah but to bring armed terrorists into Israel and to serve as a conduit for explosives and other armaments. Its true nature and the threat to human lives it poses to people on both sides of the barrier is, by its nature, well-known to the authorities and to the neighbours on the Gaza side. It doesn't faze them.

Prior to sending in the planes, the IDF - as it customarily does - delivered warnings to the Gazans living in the vicinity of the building to leave. It reminded them people staying in structures that serve the terrorists and store and smuggle weaponry take enormous risks. Once the message was communicated, the bombs hit their target (that was a few hours ago) causing what the IDF's press office called a series of secondary explosions in the building. Secondary explosions happen when explosives - in this case in large quantities evidently - are contained within buildings.

The laconic language of the IDF announcement could hardly have less impact, but there's sense in its words neveretheless - sense which is rarely communicated to the news-consuming public via the mainstream media:
Terrorist organizations operate from within civilian population, while cynically exploiting uninvolved civilians and using them as human shields, exploiting their homes to store weaponry and launching rockets at Israeli towns from populated areas.
Meanwhile 3 more Qassam rockets landed inside Israel overnight. Two struck agricultural hot-houses on the grounds of Kibbutz Netiv Hasarah near the Gaza security fence. One landed south of Ashkelon in an open field near the Shaar Hanegev neighbourhood. No injuries or damage are reported. (With Palestinian Arab terror attacks, it's usually pot-luck. They don't aim and they don't dare as long as it's Israel and Israelis.) The IDF responded by firing at the rocket-launching sites - not "retaliation" as some news channels like to say, but attempting to permanently eliminate the rocket-firing equipment and their terrorist operators.

If anyone comes across a different version of these events from a Palestinian Arab perspective, we'd be very interested to know about it.

Nothing in today's blog is earth-shattering (except in a literal sense) and clearly has a very small impact on people living far away. But for those of us actively engaged in living our lives here in Israel, it's depressing to see how an ongoing low-intensity war of terror on our flanks is basically wished out of existence by those charged with reporting it.

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