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Media Minimize Evidence of Hamas Activity in Gaza’s Shifa Hospital

Smoke rises as displaced Palestinians take shelter at Al Shifa hospital, amid the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel, in Gaza City, Nov. 8, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Doaa Rouqa

In recent days, the Israeli army has exposed evidence of Hamas terror activity inside and underneath Gaza’s Shifa hospital. But instead of simply reporting it, media outlets have downplayed the evidence in various ways: By hinting that it has been faked, by claiming that it did not prove the existence of a Hamas “command center,” by quoting unreliable Hamas officials, or simply by burying the story.

By doing so, the media have diverted attention from Israel’s just war against a murderous terror organization, and turned it into a parallel war of narratives suggesting that Israel lacks credibility and therefore the war on Hamas loses legitimacy.

Here is the evidence revealed by the army so far (and this does not include previous evidence of the hospital’s use for terror purposes):

10/27 – A phone call between two Gazans confirming that Hamas headquarters is located underneath Shifa hospital
10/28 – An interrogation of two Hamas terrorists confirming the organization’s use of hospitals, including Shifa
11/3 – A phone call with a Gaza medical official confirming Hamas holds half a million liters of fuel reserves under Shifa hospital
11/15 – Weapons, military gear with Hamas insignia, and technological assets found in Shifa’s MRI building
11/15 – A tunnel shaft and a a booby-trapped vehicle carrying a weapons arsenal are found at Shifa hospital
11/19 – A fortified terror tunnel, 55 meters-long and 10 meters deep, is exposed underneath Shifa hospital
11/19 – CCTV footage from October 7 showing two hostages taken into Shifa hospital

And here are some “highlights” from media outlets that preferred to choose willful blindness over the facts.

CNN and BBC’s “Investigative” Efforts

CNN and the BBC have both invested in what seems to be a significant effort to debunk the Israeli army’s video showing weapons and ammunition at the MRI ward of Shifa.

The two networks have gone to great lengths to hint that Israel may have manipulated evidence. They have checked details like the time on the wristwatch of the Israeli army’s spokesman and the number of weapons he displayed in comparison to a larger amount shot later by international media. As the BBC reported:

And what we see in the two videos doesn’t precisely match. For example, there’s one gun in the IDF video, two, by the time of the BBC footage. Israel has told BBC Verify this is because more weaponry and terrorist assets were discovered throughout the day. Israel also says its video is a single shot with no edits. But this appears to be an edit. We don’t know the reasons for that edit nor how significant it is. The IDF though says suggestions it’s manipulating the media are incorrect.

The BBC did include the army’s claim that more weapons had been found later, but the urgency to debunk IDF evidence is astonishing and one-sided. No such effort was made to debunk the claims of Hamas, which denies operating from the hospital.

The BBC also gave the stage to an “analyst” who claimed that Israel had “doctored” evidence.

But the network failed to mention that the analyst is also a member of the anti-Israel NGO al-Shabaka.

The result is twofold: Undermining Israel’s credibility, while sanitizing the terrorists who stored the weapons — irrespective of the amount — inside the hospital. (And this is just the amount, after Israel announced it was going to put troops in the hospital — meaning Hamas had plenty of time to move them).

The BBC also attempted to show that the evidence falls short of a Hamas “command center” underneath the hospital:

The IDF video also shows military equipment in other locations, though we can’t verify how it came to be there. And what we see in this IDF video doesn’t equate to Israel’s description of al-Shifa as “an operational command center” for Hamas. The US is using a different phrase, saying al-Shifa was used as “a command and control node.” That implies a much smaller facility.

Such a game of terminology is employed in pursuit of portraying Israel as, at best, unreliable, and at worst, a liar — while normalizing the existence of terror weapons inside hospitals.

The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen has made a similar claim:

What has been recovered includes some Kalashnikov rifles – these are common in the Middle East – a tunnel entrance, of which there are many in Gaza, some military uniforms and a booby-trapped vehicle.

Utterly incredible. @BowenBBC trying to “normalize” the presence of weapons in a Gaza hospital. Anything to avoid acknowledging that Hamas could be using Al Shifa for nefarious means.

Keep going, Jeremy. Maybe you’ll end up on Israel’s favorite satirical comedy show next week.

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 17, 2023

The Guardian Links “Modest” Evidence to War Legitimacy

The Guardian echoed BBC’s investigative analysis trying to debunk Israel’s evidence from Shifa, but it went further.

After claiming the arsenal found in the hospital was a “modest” collection of “small arms,” the paper suggested that without better evidence, Israel would lose its justification for the war:

The evidence produced so far falls well short of that. IDF videos have shown only modest collections of small arms, mostly assault rifles, recovered from the extensive medical complex.

More immediately and directly, the details of the Shifa raid have an impact on the international climate in which Israel is conducting its war. Countries such as the UK, Germany and most importantly, the US, have resisted calls for a ceasefire on the grounds that Israel’s actions constitute legitimate self-defence. Every day without convincing evidence from the raid makes that argument harder to pursue.

It seems like the butchering and kidnapping of Israelis by Hamas on October 7, as well as the constant launching of rockets against Israel since then, is not enough Israeli legitimacy for The Guardian.

The newspaper’s columnist, Owen Jones, even attempted to ridicule the video evidence of terrorists dragging hostages into Shifa. Referring to the exposed hospital’s CCTV footage from October 7, he suggested the hostages were taken there for medical treatment:

Sorry, what’s the claim here exactly?

That Al-Shifa hospital is a Hamas command and control centre because injured hostages were taken there for medical treatment?

The presence of injured hostages definitely justifies Israel’s massacre of the hospital. Case closed.

— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) November 19, 2023

If the treatment of hostages was indeed Hamas’ priority, the terrorists could have taken them to at least five other hospitals en route before reaching Shifa:

Every possible route Hamas terrorists could have taken the hostages into Gaza would have passed through at least 5 other hospitals before reaching Shifa Hospital.

They didn’t take them there for “medical treatment”; they brought them specifically to Shifa because it’s their…

— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) November 19, 2023

Reuters and AP’s Unreliable Talking Heads

Another way the media have tried to undermine Israel’s evidence is to rely on very specific “witnesses” or “officials.” In Reuters and AP’s case, it’s Munir al-Bursh, Director General of the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The AP quotes him as saying that “Patients, women and children are terrified” inside Shifa. Reuters says he “dismissed the Israeli statement on the tunnel under the hospital as a ‘pure lie.’”

What the two agencies fail to mention is that al-Bursh cannot be trusted because he is a part of the Hamas government and doesn’t even try to hide his support of terrorists. (See the thread below or David Collier’s investigation for more evidence.)

The AP also buried the story about the CCTV hostages footage amid a wider story about ongoing war developments. It added that it “was not able to independently confirm the military’s findings.” An earlier version of their story included the denials of Hamas official Osama Hamdan, who was quoted without such a caveat.

Journalists should stick to the basics of their profession — report the facts, attributed as necessary.

But minimizing the evidence by suggesting that what Israel has exposed is not enough or fake, while relying on the denials of a deceitful terror organization, is nothing less than a complete ethical and journalistic collapse.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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University of California Student Government Passes BDS Legislation

Graphic posted on a social media account administered by University of California-Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on February 17, 2024. Photo: Screenshot/Instagram

The University of California-Davis (UC Davis) student government passed on Friday legislation adopting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions, (BDS) movement and falsely accusing Israel of genocide.

“This bill prohibits the purchase of products from corporations identified as profiting from the genocide and occupation of the Palestinian people by the BDS National Committee,” says the measure, titled Senate Bill (SB) #52. “This bill seeks to address the human rights violations of the nation-state and government of Israel and establish a guideline of ethical spending.”

Puma, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Airbnb, Disney, and Sabra are all named on SJP’s “BDS List.”

Powers enumerated in the bill include veto power over all vendor contracts, which SJP specifically applied to “purchase orders for custom t-shirts,” a provision that may affect pro-Israel groups on campus. Such policies will be guided by a “BDS List” of targeted companies curated by SJP. The language of the legislation gives ASUCD the right to add more.

“No ASUCD funds shall be committed to the purchases of products or services of any corporation identified by the BDS List as being complicit in the violation of the human rights guaranteed to Palestinian civilians,” the bill adds.

A notable provision of the bill regards the charter for the Special Committee on Ethical Standing. It says the committee must be “dissolved” in a year and its”responsibilities” absorbed by UC Davis’ Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission, a division of the student government that which describes itself as a special advocacy group for non-white students. The requirement makes BDS a permanent policy of the school and links it to the issue of racial justice, which, on a college campus, serves as a safeguard against any future attempt to pass legislation proscribing the adoption of BDS.

SJP praised the bill’s passing and signing by ASUCD’s president, Francisco Javier Ojeda.

“The bill that was passed prevents any of the $20 million in the ASUCD budget from being spent on companies complicit in the occupation and genocide of Palestinians, as specified by the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement,” the group said on social media. “From McDonald’s to Sabra to Chevron, none of our student feeds that fund ASUCD operations will be used to financially support 30+ companies that are complicit in Zionist violence.”

Students for Justice in Palestine at University of California-Davis is one of many SJP chapters that justified Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7. In a chilling statement posted after the world became aware of the terrorist group’s atrocities on that day, which included hundreds of civilian murders and sexual assaults, the group said “the responsibility for the current escalation of violence is entirely on the Israeli occupation.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters — which have said in their communications that Israeli civilians deserve to be murdered for being “settlers” — lead the way in promoting a campus environment hostile to Jewish and pro-Israel voices. Their aim, the civil rights group explained in an open letter published in December, is to “exclude and marginalize Jewish students,” whom they describe as “oppressors,” and encourage “confrontation” with them.

The ADL has urged colleges and universities to protect Jewish students from the group’s behavior, which, in many cases, has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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‘Horrifying and Heart Wrenching’: IDF Releases New Footage of Shiri Bibas and Her Young Sons in Gaza 

Ofri Bibas Levy, whose brother Yarden (34) was taken hostage with his wife Shiri (32) and 2 children Kfir (10 months) and Ariel (4), holds with her friend Tal Ulus pictures of them during an interview with Reuters, as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas continues, in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 13, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The IDF released “horrifying” new footage on Monday showing Israeli hostage Shiri Bibas and her two children flanked by gunmen in the Gaza Strip, filmed shortly after their abduction during the October 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel. 

Captured by surveillance cameras in Khan Younis, the footage shows Bibas wrapped in a sheet and clutching her red-haired sons, Ariel, aged 4, and Kfir, who was only 9 months old at the time of their abduction, and is the first proof of life since October 7. The children’s father, Yarden Bibas, was separately abducted and his condition remains unknown.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari expressed the military’s deep concerns over Shiri and her children’s fate. 

“Seeing this young mother clutching her babies surrounded by a group of armed terrorists is horrifying and heart wrenching,” he said at a press conference on Monday. 

“Those who have the audacity to question our need to operate in Gaza, but don’t have the basic decency and humanity to demand that Hamas release our hostages first of all, they all should take a good look at this terrified mother, Shiri, clutching her babies,” he said, adding that the IDF would “leave no stone unturned” in returning the hostages. 

The IDF, according to Hagari, lacks sufficient information to ascertain whether they are alive or dead but is “making every effort to obtain more information about their fate.” The footage was obtained from a Khan Younis military post belonging to the Mujahideen Brigades, a small armed group who are holding Bibas and her children. 

The Bibas family said in a statement that the videos “tore our hearts out.”

“Witnessing Shiri, Yarden, Ariel and Kfir, ripped away from their home in Nir Oz into this hellscape, feels unbearable and inhumane,” the family said.  “We’re issuing a desperate call to all the decision-makers in Israel and the world who are involved in the negotiations: Bring them home now. Make it clear to Hamas that kidnapping children is out of bounds.”

The family also called for Shiri and her children to be prioritized in any future hostage release deal with Hamas. 

Hamas had claimed in November that Shiri, Ariel, and Kfir were casualties of an IDF strike, a claim the IDF has contested as unverified and said at the time that the claim was part of the terror group’s “cruel and inhuman” psychological warfare. Hamas also released a video of a visibly distressed Yarden Bibas after he had been informed by his captors that his wife and children were killed by the IDF. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the footage as “heartbreaking” and said it “reminds us who we are dealing with — brutal baby kidnappers.”

“We will bring these kidnappers of babies and mothers to justice. They won’t get away with it,” Netanyahu said.

Irit Lahav, spokeswoman for the embattled community of Nir Oz, said that the video “reminds us that we are all held hostage until the return of all the hostages.”

A quarter of Nir Oz’s residents were either kidnapped or murdered on October 7. 

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Antisemitism Accusations Lodged Against Middlebury College

Illustrative: Pro-Hamas demonstrators are detained by police officers in New York during a protest at the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

Accusations of institutional antisemitism against Middlebury College in Vermont have been lodged in a civil rights complaint filed by StandWithUs (SWU), a nonprofit that promotes education about Israel.

The complaint, filed with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) argues that high level Middlebury College officials, by refusing to enforce anti-discrimination policies equally, have fostered a “pervasively hostile climate,” which prevents Jewish students from enjoying the full benefits of being a college student at a higher education receiving federal funds, according to the complaint.

A timeline of events laid out in documents provided by SWU begins after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, when the school issued a statement that did not acknowledge the deaths of Israelis, but instead only alluded to “violence happening now in Israel in Palestine.” The following week, the administration allegedly obstructed Jewish students’ efforts to publicly mourn Jews murdered on Oct. 7., denying them police protection for a vigil, forcing them to hold it outside, and demanding that the event avoid specifically mentioning Jewish suffering. In an email to one Jewish group that planned a vigil, Vice President and Dean of Students Derek Doucet said, “I wonder if such a public gather in such a charged moment might be more inclusive.”

A month later, the administration uncomplainingly accommodated Students for Justice in Palestine’s “Vigil for Palestine,” providing campus police, space on campus, and a speech from a high ranking official, a request which organizers of the Jewish vigil had been denied.

StandWithUs also noted that Middlebury allegedly ignored numerous complaints of antisemitic harassment committed by anti-Zionist groups. After a local Chabad rabbi  wrote to school officials reporting acts of “intimidation,” including preventing Jews from entering the cafeteria, during a “Day of Resistance” event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the school’s associate vice president of safety warned him not to report the incidents to outside law enforcement, saying that doing so would be a “risk to individuals and to our community.” The official also denied being aware of any antisemitic incidents.

“The hostile environment at Middlebury College and the administration’s failure to act to correct it are unacceptable,” Carly Gammill, Director of Legal Strategy at SWU Center for Legal Justice, in a press release issued on Friday. “Too often, when Jewish students raise concerns about antisemitism, they are subjected to administrators who deflect the bigotry at play”

“Jewish students deserve the same level of respect, consideration and lawful response as all minority groups when they report cases of bigotry and discrimination,” Gammill added.

Middlebury also allegedly refused to punish anti-Zionist students for using their social media accounts to publish hate speech. Social media posts that cheered Hamas’ atrocities as “decolonization,” called Jews “colonizers” deserving of being victims of violence, and said “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” proliferated in the days and weeks after Oct. 7, but this day, Middlebury has never issued a statement condemning antisemitism.

The Algemeiner has asked Middlebury College to comment on SWU’s allegations.

“Middlebury college has failed egregiously to provide adequate protecting for Jewish students seeking to remedy persistent antisemitic bigotry on campus,” Yael Lerman, SWU director of the Center for Legal Justice said in Friday’s press release. “Middlebury administrators disregarded student allegations, attempted to silence them, neglected to enforce its own rules, and at times were complicit in discriminating against Jewish students. In doing so, the college has violated its obligations under Title VI and must be held accountable.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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