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For the Israeli media, Gazan lives are little more than expendable

By Haggai Matar

October 22, 2014


Nearly two months after the end of Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli media refuses to ask the difficult questions. Who decided that killing entire families is now allowed? What is the justification for doing so? And why won’t the army explain why it killed five members of the Joudah family?

Why doesn’t anyone care about the Joudah family? Nearly two months have passed since Israeli Air Force pilots bombed their yard in Gaza, killing the mother of the family and four of her children. Until today, the IDF has not published an explanation of the incident. Actually, almost no one has bothered to ask. A mother and four of her children were sitting in their yard and were killed with no prior notice, and the Israeli media doesn’t deem this worthy of a story. Why?

It happened on August 24. According to Issam Joudah’s testimony, the family was sitting in the shade of their yard in order to get some fresh air during the hot summer months. Issam was making coffee in the house when the missile exploded in the yard, killing his wife and four of his children. Only two children survived – one of them was badly wounded and is undergoing rehabilitation in Germany.

Palestinian children carry goods that were rescued from the village of Khuza'a, which has undergone of intense attacks and was largely destroyed during the Israeli offensive.

Palestinian children carry goods that were rescued from the village of Khuza’a, which has undergone of intense attacks and was largely destroyed during the Israeli offensive.

Why was the home bombed? The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit had this to say: "We do not respond to specific events, the updates on investigations that have been opened can be accessed via the Military Advocate General’s website." Scanning the website, one cannot find the Joudah family’s name, but rather a list of seven incidents that took place during Operation Protective Edge that the Military Advocate General decided to investigate. That’s it. Any further questions were not answered by the IDF Spokesperson.

As I previously wrote, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily did not even report on the deaths of the family. Not a single word has been written about the bombing since. Even media outlets that initially reported on the deaths of the family members did not come back and demand answers from the army.

And really, why should they demand them? It’s just another incident, after all. Another family. One of more than 70 families who were bombed in a similar fashion, some of them much larger. The dead members of the Joudah family are just five out of over 540 family members who were killed in their homes, among them 250 minors. And if we don’t demand answers for all those deaths, what makes the Joudah family so special?

Nothing. The only thing that makes the Joudah family special is that I read more about them than any other family, not to mention the fact that Yedioth completely ignoring their deaths. Or perhaps it is that that blogger Awni Farhat interviewed the father of the family last month (Hebrew). Or that the photo he took of Rawan Sabah, friend of Raghed Joudah, still lingers in my mind. It could have been any other family. Each family and its "specific incident."

Rawan Sabah sits next to where her friend, Ra'ed Joudah, used to sit in class. Joudah was killed by an Israeli airstrike along with five of her family members. (photo: Awni Farhat)

Rawan Sabah sits next to where her friend, Raghed Joudah, used to sit in class. Joudah was killed by an Israeli airstrike along with five of her family members. (photo: Awni Farhat)

But we simply do not hear these stories anywhere. Even two months after the fighting ended, no media outlet has seen fit to go back and examine exactly what happened there: How did Israel’s policy change since the assassination of Salah Shehade in 2002? Who decided that it is now logical to blow up entire families? Which intelligence, air force, state attorney or military command experts sat down and agreed that the killing of hundreds of innocent civilians is justified if there is a suspicion that a Hamas member is in the area? Is it true that there was a Hamas member or rockets near every home that was blown up or family that was decimated? Is this what happened in the case of the Joudah family?

These questions remain unanswered. The media, and most likely the Israeli public, simple don’t care for the answers. One need only remember the way in which the horrifying murder of the Fogel family was covered, in order to examine the differences in media coverage between incidents where Israelis are killed by Palestinians, and those in which Palestinians are killed by Israelis.

This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.



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