With exceptions, the British media have reported two versions of the Israeli invasion of Gaza. The Anglo-American Left, Jewish peace groups and charity workers have tended to write of an attack by Israel on ‘the Palestinians’, with much concern over breaches of human rights, accusations of war crimes, references to genocide and even comparisons with Nazism. The mainstream media, by contrast, have tended to speak of the invasion as a seriously disproportionate response to provocative missile attacks by Hamas, with an emphasis on Palestinian casualties (especially children) but an underlying sense that there might be two points of view.
Reuters UK today published an interesting online report, ‘Hamas accused of torture death of Gaza critic’. The article makes several points:
1) The main story is that a Palestinian man accused Hamas militants of ‘torturing and killing his brother for publicly criticising them.’ The dead man, ‘a teacher, was a supproter fo the Fatah movement…’
2) According to the report, ‘About 1,300 Palestinians were killed, according to a Gaza human rights group, of whom over 700 were civilians.’ This is one of the first non-Israeli sources I have seen referring tonon-civilian casualties in such numbers.
3) ‘The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday that Hamas “executed several dozen civilians” during and after Israel’s assault on Gaza. Soem were members of Fatah, but others were not politically affiliated.’
I am not arguing that this version is more true than either of the two versions that have dominated the British media accounts of the Gaza conflict. I note, however, that it attempts to distinguish between different kinds of Palestinian casualties: between civilian casualties and non-civilian casualties (more or less 50/50); and, more important, reminds us that instead of ‘Palestinians’ there are two groups in fierce conflict: those who support Hamas and those who support Fatah, and then there is a third group who are non-aligned. I note, furthermore, that this version of the Gaza conflict as a ferocious civil war going on at the same time as a conflict between Hamas and Israel, has largely been ignored by the British media in favour of a conflict between Israel and ‘the Palestinians’. It will be interesting to see how these three different versions fare over the coming weeks and months.