“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” – Howard Zinn
“In war, the first casualty is truth.” Aeschylus’ timeless words ring true as deception and propaganda dominate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rival claims over the deadly Gaza hospital airstrike showcase the difficulty in discerning truth amidst this fog of war.
While some speak of a false flag attack, the murky details place this outside the classic definition. False flags involve covertly carrying out an attack while falsely blaming another party, providing pretext for retaliation. Historical examples abound, from Nero’s burning of Rome falsely blamed on Christians, to the Reichstag Fire used by Nazis to consolidate power.
But this latest incident reflects a different obfuscation – plausible deniability. When confronted with public outrage over apparent transgressions, authorities craft uncertainty by muddying facts. Ambiguous language and toothless investigations allow them to pay lip service to justice while evading real accountability.
In this way, Israel blames Palestinian rocket misfires for the hospital attack despite questionable evidence. Given its history of falsely attributing its actions to Palestinians, doubts emerge. Likewise, Palestinians blame the Israelis, both will fight this war of propaganda understanding the blame game is just as lethal as the rockets that killed so many innocents.
Yet without impartial access on the ground, we are left weighing flawed claims against fierce denials, discerning truth amidst propaganda.
The powerful thrive on this uncertainty. In times of conflict, critical thinking becomes vital. We must insist that leaders provide credible proof for their assertions. Where certainty fails, we should have the courage to admit we do not know rather than grasping for convenient narratives. For those who care more for truth than tribal loyalties, ambiguity should not excuse inaction. Justice relies on uncovering hard facts, however elusive amidst the chaos of war.
The horrible truth is they have made everything sound like a lie. It’s practically Orwellian where “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” In this climate, truth requires constant vigilance.
What does Israel say?
Israeli authorities said the hospital was hit by an errant rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which operates inside the Gaza Strip.
“An analysis of IDF [Israel’s army] operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a social media post.
“Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza.”
Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters rockets fired by the PIJ passed by the hospital at the time of the strike, which he said hit the facility’s parking lot.
Hagari claimed there was no direct hit on the facility and said military drone footage showed “a kind of hit in the parking lot”.
He said the military did have an Israeli Air Force operation in the area around the time of the hospital blast “but it was with a different kind of ammunition that does not … fit the footage that we have [of] the hospital.”
What does PIJ say?
The PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad) has rejected the Israeli allegation that it was responsible for the strike, saying:
“The Zionist enemy is trying hard to evade its responsibility for the brutal massacre he committed by bombing the Baptist Arab National Hospital in Gaza through his usual fabrication of lies, and through pointing the finger of blame at the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine,” it said in a statement.
“We therefore affirm that the accusations put forward by the enemy are false and baseless,” it added.
Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan noted that some observers have questioned Israel’s version of events, with some pointing to Israel’s history of falsely attributing acts carried out by its own forces to armed Palestinian groups.
“We’ve seen this type of thing before from the Israelis,” Khan said on Tuesday.
“Take for example the killing of our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh. In the initial stages of that report, the Israelis blamed fighters within Jenin camp for her death. It was only later that they admitted it was one of theirs.”
With no impartial access to the site, we are left weighing claims and counterclaims, discerning truth amidst spin. The injured and grieving families likely care little for this obfuscation. Like in countless prior tragedies, they are sacrificed pawns trapped in machinations beyond their control.
Anna Botting gives an outstanding and brave example of how genuine journalism can expose truth from questions. The accuracy of the questions exposes the truth to the lies of the answers. But brave journalists are few and far between or in the case of the UK locked up like Julian Assange.
Finally, a real journalist Anna Botting gives an outstanding and brave example of how genuine journalism can expose truth from questions. The accuracy of the questions exposes the truth to the lies of the answers. pic.twitter.com/JKndjESWqD— Labour Heartlands (@Labourheartland) October 18, 2023
The Fall Out
As a consequence, several Arab states, including some that recently normalised relations with Israel, have unequivocally condemned Israel for the deadly Gaza hospital strike. Countries like the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia rapidly attributed blame to Israel amidst regional protests and domestic pressure. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation also accused Israel of the attack. Iran went further, calling for an embargo and oil sanctions.
The incident has increased tensions, leading to the cancellation of a planned summit between Joe Biden and Arab leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This backlash highlights how Israel’s actions, including the current campaign in Gaza, are straining its relationships in the region, even with newly established ties. The hospital strike has galvanized opposition in the Arab world, jeopardizing diplomatic overtures. As civilian casualties mount, these countries face growing public criticism for their stance on Palestine. The Gaza conflict threatens to inflame regional instability and anti-Israel sentiment.
As violence spirals, the margins for truth and reconciliation narrow. When naked power prevails over fact, the innocent suffer. The permanent fog of war descends, allowing the powerful to act with impunity. Our shared humanity demands we persist in cutting through the lies and propaganda. The truth may not always set the wrongdoers free. But it can set the victims free from continued wrongs. Justice depends on it.