Who bears the greatest responsibility for innocent casualties in Gaza? Consider yesterday's deaths of 39 people, many of them civilians, during an Israeli mortar barrage near a United Nations school in Gaza.
The Israeli military claims Hamas militants used the school and hundreds of Palestinian civilians sheltering around it as a cover to fire mortars at Israeli towns. The military further claims that two senior Hamas operatives, Imad Abu Askhar and Hassan Abu Askhar, are among the dead. If true, that would certainly muddy the waters as to whom the real bastards are.
But so reflexive is the blame-Israel-first mindset that many in the international community won't wait to find out—including those humanitarian souls at the U.N.
According to the Associated Press, an official with the U.N. agency that runs the school says his office is "99.9 percent certain there were no militants or military activity in its school." Nevertheless, the report continues, "the agency wants an impartial investigation of witnesses, Israeli military photographs or any other evidence."
How reassuring to hear that the U.N. agency wants an impartial investigation after asserting it's "99.9 percent certain" of the conclusion. Hopefully that scintilla of doubt includes the claims of Palestinians themselves, who now confirm Israel's assertion.
Here's an excerpt from one Associated Press report:
Residents of a Gaza neighborhood are confirming Israel's claim that Hamas militants had opened fire from the cover of a U.N. school where hundreds of Palestinians had sought refuge.
...Two residents say a group of militants had fired their mortars from a street near the school, then fled into a crowd of people in the streets.
And here's another, also from the AP:
Palestinian residents, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fear of retribution, said several militants ran toward the crowd, trying to use it as cover, when the first Israeli mortar shell missed them.
... Gaza militants used to wear black or khaki uniforms, but since the start of the Israeli offensive have been operating in civilian clothing, blending into crowds, residents say.
Maybe it's time to re-evaluate which side shows such callous disregard for Palestine's civilians.