Mahmoud Shaheen, a dentist living in the al-Zahra neighborhood in the north of Gaza, told the BBC that on October 19, he was called on his mobile phone by a man speaking flawless Arabic who said he was from Israeli intelligence and told him not to hang up. Shaheen said:
“He told me he wanted to bomb three towers… and ordered me to evacuate the surrounding area.”
Anxious lest this was a hoax call, Shaheen asked for warning shots to prove the caller was genuine. These duly occurred.
Now that Mahmoud knew it was real he tried to stall, asking the man to be patient. “I told him: ‘Don’t betray us and bomb while people are still evacuating.’” The man said he would give Mahmoud time — he said he did not want anyone to die, the dentist recalls. Mahmoud responded that he didn’t want anyone to even be injured. He kept the call going as he rushed around the neighbourhood, urging people to evacuate…
One neighbour remembers the dentist “just shouting”, then others joined in. Mahmoud could not understand why his neighbourhood had become a target. “I tried my best to stop him. I asked, ‘Why do you want to bomb?’” He said, ‘There are some things that we see that you don’t see.’” The man did not explain what he meant. “It is an order from people bigger than me and you, and we have an order to bomb,” the voice added, according to Mahmoud.
When the areas around the buildings were clear the man informed Mahmoud that the bombing would begin. Mahmoud panicked — what if they bombed the wrong building by mistake? “Wait a bit,” the man told him, he says. An Israeli aircraft circled overhead. Mahmoud stared at the three towers that neighboured his own apartment block. Then one of them was bombed. “This is the tower that we want, stay away,”the man on the phone said as the building fell, according to Mahmoud. The two other blocks were then destroyed…When the bombing stopped, Mahmoud remembers the voice telling him: “We’ve finished… you can go back.” ‘
Later that day, Shaheen was called again by a different Israeli who gave his name as Daoud. Shaheen was unnerved by the level of detail the man had about his life, addressing him in a familiar way and referring to his son’s name.
Daoud tried to explain what was happening in Gaza by referring to the slaughter of Israelis by Hamas, the details of which atrocities Shaheen apparently refused to believe. Daoud told him more buildings would be destroyed that night and that Shaheen needed to order more residents to evacuate. As Daoud subsequently informed him of more and more buildings that were targeted, Shaheen ran from block to block, evacuating the residents.
Then there is this telling passage:
Despite the panic, Mahmoud stayed on the phone the whole time, trying his best to delay the bombing. The voice on the other end of the phone continued, without emotion.“He even told me, ‘Take your time. I won’t bomb unless you give me permission.’ “I said ‘No, it’s not my permission. I don’t want you to bomb anything. If you want me to evacuate, I will evacuate for the safety of the people, but if you want to bomb, don’t tell me you need my permission. It’s not Mahmoud Shaheen who will bomb al-Zahra.’”
Note the fact that while the Israeli was telling Shaheen that these buildings wouldn’t be bombed until he gave the all-clear that the residents were safely evacuated, Shaheen interpreted this remarkable display of military restraint merely as some insulting implication of collaboration with the bombing — the point of which, of course, he was unable to comprehend.
The BBC’s story reveals the remarkably precise and detailed intelligence that Israel possesses on what’s going on in Gaza. It also illustrates the extraordinary lengths to which the Israeli Defence Forces go to spare the lives of Gaza’s civilians. As any dispassionate person who has followed Israel’s wars knows very well, the IDF tries everything it can to get enemy civilians out of harm’s way — by leafleting, “knock on the roof” warning shots, phone calls, and other means of communication.
No other army in the world has ever done this. When coalition forces bombed Afghanistan or when US forces flattened Mosul, no one even bothered to mention the civilians who must have been killed there. Yet Israel’s wars repeatedly engulf it in international outrage with accusations that it kills enemy civilians wantonly or deliberately. This is not just an evil lie; it could not be a more grotesque inversion of the truth.
The lie is nevertheless perpetrated day in and day out by Western media. While the Israelis say they have killed “thousands of Hamas terrorists” in this current war, western media outlets publish Hamas claims that 10,000 “civilians” have been killed — with no attempt whatever to acknowledge that any of these were Hamas operatives and referring only to women and children among the dead.
Sadly, many civilians will unavoidably be killed in Gaza, as in any war. But the wicked distortion that turns the Israelis from scrupulous adherents to the international law requirement to try to avoid civilian deaths into war criminals turns these media outlets into Hamas accomplices.
While the BBC is a principal and habitual offender, it is to its credit that it has published a story related to Mahmoud Shaheen. It says it contacted him after many al-Zahra residents identified him as the man who had received the warning call.
Elsewhere, further evidence of Israel’s concern for Gaza’s civilians has been venomously distorted.
Yesterday, a remarkable video surfaced showing a long line of people streaming from the north of Gaza to the south. The Israelis have repeatedly warned that residents of the north should move to the south for their own safety since the north was about to become Israel’s principal focus for attack.
Some 800,000 Gazans did so, but Hamas tried to stop more from joining them by firing on them to keep them in place as human shields. The reason for yesterday’s large line moving south was that, with the IDF now having moved into Gaza City, its tanks could protect the evacuating civilians from Hamas attack. The video, which you can see here, shows this clearly. Yet this is how the Guardian chose to report it:
Waving white flags and holding their hands above their heads, Palestinian families fled past tanks waiting to storm Gaza City in the next stage of the war that the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said will give Israel “indefinite” control over the besieged territory.
Israel’s military gave civilians inside the encircled city a four-hour window to leave on Tuesday, as its forces prepared to retake the biggest city in the strip. Men, women and children, some carrying their belongings on donkeys, fled their homes past Israeli troops out of the city.
Posting online, one resident, Adam Fayez Zeyara, said the walk on Tuesday was the most dangerous of his life. “We saw the tanks from point blank. We saw decomposed body parts. We saw death.”
In other words, the Guardian portrayed the Gazans who were being protected by Israeli troops as fleeing from Israeli troops.
By such malevolent misrepresentation, of the kind that the media has habitually promulgated against Israel for decades, the Western mind has been poisoned and fatally subverted to endorse evil against its victims.