Palestinian contribution: no blood, bad child actors (it takes the girl two tries to throw herself on her father, no signs of damage or crater, hospital chaos with men in doctors’ coats accusing Israel, played over and over again on TV, use of rhetoric of genocide against Israel.
Western media contribution: cutting to make it more believable (take out the girl throwing herself on the sand beside her “father” before “finding him”), cut from action piece to action piece so the audience doesn’t have the time to develop suspicions, accept the Palestinian version (Israeli shells) as reliable (without even presenting it as the Palestinian claim), presenting it with a warning about graphic footage setting up people to believe what they are supposed to be seeing).
I have not seen or heard enough to be certain here. There’s still the possibility that this is real footage, although I’d be surprised. In the meantime, real or not, so much of this footage is questionable, that it illustrates just how unprofessional the media are (BBC are you listening?) that they would play this over and over again, giving their support to yet another Palestinian narrative that will bring misery to the Palestinians. As one Palestinian, interviewed by the BBC put it:
I’ve heard people in the last few hours calling for revenge. If an attack happens inside Israel it will make them a little bit happy. It might also make them reject the referendum planned by [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas.
In other words, once again, a scene that bears many marks of staging, will drive Palestinians to self-destructive choices, while the Western media, in the unprofessional credulity, lend credibility to the unlikely and poisonous footage. Let’s hope this time they’re smarter than they were in 2000.
Update 1: There are four family members badly wounded in an Israeli hospital. A bomb did go off, although it’s not clear where, when, and whose bomb. The Palestinians refuse to give the Israelis any information that might help them understand. The Israelis will not be as easily led to take responsibility this time, despite the international outcry.
A Ha-aretz reporter compares the outrage to Al Durah six years ago, and Jerusalem Post notes that Olmert goes to Europe under a cloud from this incident (just as Barak did to Paris on October 4, 2000, four days after everyone believed Al Durah). Sarah al Deeb, writing for AP, discusses the instant iconic status of the mourning girl.
More details from the blog Israel Matzav, including the claim that it happened in the evening. (Other reports imply late afternoon.)
Kofi Anan has called for an investigation. Note that the language of the UN news release already assumes the conclusion:
9 June 2006 – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged a probe of reports that civilians were killed by Israeli forces on a beach in Gaza today, and reminded all concerned to exercise restraint and avoid further bloodshed.
If it turns out it’s not Israel, will they cover that as well?