JABALYA, GAZA STRIP — Most people remember the headlines: Massacre Of Innocents As UN School Is Shelled; Israeli Strike Kills Dozens At UN School.
They heralded the tragic news of Jan. 6, when mortar shells fired by advancing Israeli forces killed 43 civilians in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The victims, it was reported, had taken refuge inside the Ibn Rushd Preparatory School for Boys, a facility run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
The news shocked the world and was compared to the 1996 Israeli attack on a UN compound in Qana, Lebanon, in which more than 100 people seeking refuge were killed. It was certain to hasten the end of Israel's attack on Gaza, and would undoubtedly lead the list of allegations of war crimes committed by Israel.
There was just one problem: The story, as etched in people's minds, was not quite accurate.
No doubt the ‘etching in the minds’ was caused by these kind of reports – like this one from France 24 when placed within the grasp of Jew-haters everywhere.
But the shorter story is there was no attack launched by the IDF on the Jabalya UN run school. No one inside the UN school compound was killed. Did the IDF public relations department fumble the ball when the first reports surfaced on an attack on a school where Gaza civilians had taken refuge? Absolutely, and in the fog which is war - it will always do so when it reacts to allegations rather than waiting for the smoke to clear and cooler heads to prevail. Think massacre at Jenin any one? The Israelis are in the untenable position of not only having to fight a battle in a war zone but also having to wage a PR battle simultaneously in the world’s media.
In other news, The Elder of Ziyon digs out a Palestine Press Agency report from April 2008 about tunnels being dug under a UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip. What an odd the world we live in.