Those who followed Operation Pillar of Cloud, Israel's eight-day defensive action against Hamas militants last November, might recall the photo of a BBC reporter's deceased 11-month-old infant that was plastered across the front pages of multiple Western media outlets, most notably the Washington Post.
Mainstream media outlets reported that it was an Israeli rocket fired into Gaza that claimed the child's life, while a scant few outlets reported it was a Hamas rocket that actually killed the child. Now, a U.N. report confirms the latter.
The U.N. office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a March 6 report that the Gaza incident seemed to have been caused by a "Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel."
The death of Omar al-Masharawi, the son of BBC stringer Jihad al-Masharawi, was used as a key piece of propaganda by the Palestinians during Operation Pillar of Cloud to showcase what they claimed was Israeli aggression.
Many outlets failed to provide context in their reports, refraining from mentioning that Hamas guerrillas are known to launch rockets from within residential locations, using their own civilians as human shields.
In fact, many Hamas rockets are hidden inside residential buildings as well as near school playgrounds. This tactic alone should underscore Hamas’ disregard for human life, particularly that of the very people they claim to champion.
The mainstream outlets never reported such findings nor did they report that the Israel Defense Forces issues Arabic-language pamphlets well in advance of planned strikes on Hamas operating sites, giving civilians ample time to evacuate the area in an effort to preserve human life.
By using innocent civilians as human shields, Hamas has operated by the strategy that Israel, which consistently conducts itself with a high moral authority, will not strike such targets. Issues arise, however, when a barrage of rockets -- literally in the thousands -- rain down on innocent Israelis from these very civilian locations in Gaza. This leaves Israel in a precarious situation.
Once the IDF carries out its targeted mission, even after engaging its best attempts to evacuate Gazans beforehand, Hamas wins the propaganda war by claiming Israel struck civilian locations in Gaza. In the arena of public opinion driven by moral equivalence, Israel finds itself vilified. Hamas then achieves the propaganda victory it so desires.
Hamas officials had no response to the U.N.'s findings Monday. Further, BBC officials were not available for comment when contacted by the AP.