One of the main themes created by the BBC during Operation ‘Pillar of Cloud’ – and still being promoted long after it – is the notion that the fighting between terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and Israel began with the targeted assassination of Ahmed Jabari on November 14th.
In order to actually understand the build-up to the operation, it is necessary to go back to the end of August when, after a period of relative quiet in which ‘only’ 19 rockets had been fired in July and twenty two in August (as opposed, for example, to 179 in June), terrorists targeted school children returning to their studies after the summer holidays on August 27th 2012.
In response to those attacks a weapons manufacturing site and a weapons storage site in the northern Gaza Strip were targeted. On the night of September 2nd/3rd an additional terror site was targeted in the same region and on September 5th a rocket launching squad in action was targeted as it prepared to launch missiles into Israel.
On September 6th a 3 man terror cell in the process of planting an improvised explosive device (IED) along the northern section of the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip was targeted. During the first nine days of September, over ten rockets hit civilian communities in Israel, including the destruction of a house in Netivot on September 9th and school had to be cancelled in some southern communities.
On September 10th, several terror sites in the Gaza Strip were targeted and on September 20th Israel targeted two known terrorists in the southern Gaza Strip. On September 21st a major terrorist attack was thwarted on the Egypt-Israel border, during which Cpl. Natanel Yahalomi was killed and another soldier injured.
On October 7th, two terrorists affiliated to the Global Jihad were targeted; the BBC’s version of the story can be seen here. The next day, a barrage of dozens of rockets and mortars hit southern Israel, for which a number of terrorist groups – including Hamas – took responsibility.
“The military-terrorist wings of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rocket and mortar shell fire. In addition, the Popular Resistance Committees and networks affiliated with the global jihad also claimed responsibility. Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, said “shelling Israeli posts [sic]” was a message to Israel that the “resistance” [i.e., terrorist organizations] would not allow unilateral Israeli “aggression,” and that Israeli “aggression will lead to a more powerful and extensive response.” He claimed that the response had been coordinated at the highest levels with the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad(Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, October 8, 2012).”
The IDF targeted a number of Hamas sites and terror squads and on October 10th a tunnel was also targeted. In response to the continued rocket fire, another terror site was targeted on October 11th. The rocket fire – over 40 missiles in a week – was claimed by several organisations.
“Several organizations claimed responsibility for the rocket and mortar shell fire, among them the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP Facebook page, October 14, 2012) and the Popular Resistance Committees (Website of the organization’s military-terrorist wing, October 14, 2012). Responsibility was also claimed by networks affiliated with the global jihad, among them the Shura Council of the Jihad Fighters of Greater Jerusalem (Global jihad forum website, October 10, 2012) and a network calling itself “Taliban Palestine” (Global jihad forum website, October 14, 2012).”
At this point, we are a whole month prior to Operation ‘Pillar of Cloud’.
Rocket fire on southern Israel continued and a Hamas training camp was targeted on October 17th, with another site targeted the next day. On October 22nd the IDF targeted a missile-launching cell in response to a mortar attack on a routine IDF patrol near Nir Am and, as rocket fire on Israeli civilian communities continued, later an additional cell was targeted. The BBC reported the Israeli response, but gave little context to the reasons behind it.
On October 23rd an IDF officer was seriously wounded by an IED whilst on a routine patrol near the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The PFLP claimed responsibility and the BBC ignored the incident. On the same day, a rocket launching squad was targeted in the northern Gaza Strip and the next day, another one. Nearly 70 rockets and mortars hit Israeli territory on October 24th alone and schools were closed in the area. The IDF continued to respond by targeting rocket launching squads and other terror facilities.
On October 24th, much of the media had reported on a so-called “lull” between Israel and Hamas, brokered by Egypt and to supposedly come into effect as of midnight on the 24th.
“On the ground, however, the lull was not honored by the terrorist organizations, which publicly denied its existence: Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the PRC, said that the [terrorist] organizations would respond to Israeli “aggression” against the Gaza Strip and denied the existence of a formal lull with Israel (Safa News Agency, October 25, 2012). Ayman Taha, a senior Hamas figure, also denied the existence of a lull, adding that there was “enforcement on the ground” and that Hamas would respond to any new “Israeli aggression” (Resala.net website, October 24, 2012). Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of Hamas’ Executive Committee, said that there was no truce (hudna) between Israel and Hamas, rather a lull in the fighting, which as far as he was concerned meant that as long as Israel did not attack, there would be no rocket fire from the Gaza Strip (BBC Radio, October 28, 2012).”
By this stage, over 150 rockets and mortars had been fired from the Gaza Strip in October alone. On October 28th, another rocket-launching squad was targeted and also on October 29th – after during the morning, a barrage of some 30 missiles had been fired at Israel, with Hamas taking responsibility.
“The military-terrorist wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for the barrage, calling it retaliation for so-called “continuing Zionist aggression against the Gaza Strip” (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, October 29, 2012).”
Hamas posted a video of its own rocket fire on its website on October 29th.
On November 4th a Palestinian was shot dead near the border fence after having refused to halt. On November 6th three IDF soldiers were wounded by an IED placed at the border fence – an incident not reported by the BBC. On November 8th an explosive device in a tunnel near the border fence was detonated. Hamas took responsibility.
On November 10th an anti-tank missile was fired at an IDF jeep patrolling the border region, within Israeli territory, and four soldiers were wounded. The IDF responded, which of course the BBC reported first. That same evening, another heavy barrage of rocket attacks on Israeli civilians was launched from Gaza and the IDF responded by targeting a rocket-firing squad. By 4 am on November 11th, 30 rockets and mortars had hit Israel in 7 hours and rocket fire continued throughout the day, with the IDF striking rocket-launching cells. Although there were media reports of a 6pm ceasefire, missile fire continued into the next day – November 12th – too, with schools of course closed once again.
Also on November 12th, Hamas convened a meeting of the heads of terror groups in the Gaza Strip.
“On November 12 the heads of the terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip held an emergency meeting chaired by Hamas, where they reviewed the situation and discussed a response to Israel (Ma’an News Agency, November 12, 2012). Fatah, the PFLP and the DFLP did not attend. After the meeting Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhriheld a press conference where he said the participants had accused Israel of being fully responsible for events in the Gaza Strip, and stressed the alleged “right of the Palestinian people to resist Israel and deal with all types of aggression with every means at their disposal.” He added that the response would depend on how what he called “Israeli aggression” continued (Al-Aqsa TV and Filastin al-‘Aan, November 12, 2012). The Egyptian media reported Egyptian mediation attempts to broker a lull.”
Between the evening of Saturday, November 10th and the morning of Tuesday, November 13th, a total of 123 rockets had hit Israel. During the previous month – October 2012 – 121 rockets had hit Israel. By November 13th, 797 rockets had hit Israel since the start of the year. No BBC reporter had yet set foot in Sderot, Netivot, Ashkelon or any of the other towns, cities and villages paralysed by six weeks of almost continuous rocket and mortar fire on civilian targets.
Then, on November 14th, the IDF targeted Ahmed Jabari and along came Jeremy Bowen to inform BBC audiences of a “deliberate escalation” on Israel’s part. Since then, the claim that the responsibility for recent round of violence can be laid at Israel’s door has been repeated countless times by the BBC.
It takes a very peculiar kind of obtuseness to be able to ignore all that happened in the weeks leading up to November 14th.