I'm pretty sure that's the version of what happened that will be talked about around the world, and for years to come.
(Yasser Qdeah/Reuters, via International Herald Tribune, used without permission)
A moving photograph, with the U.N.'s own UNRWA emblem standing amidst the wreckage of Israeli atrocity. In the middle of a big mess, anyway.
There's some truth to it. A warehouse and surrounding complex run by the United Nations was shelled. It's the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) headquarters complex in Gaza City, located (where else?) in a densely populated neighborhood.
UNRWA? That Sounds FamiliarThat's the same UNRWA whose schools hired terrorists to teach Palestinian children what Jews are like. It's okay, by the way: UNRWA doesn't believe in unfairly excluding anyone, based on their persuasions. You wouldn't want their hiring practices to be discriminatory, now, would you?
The United Nations: High Ideals; Noble Aspirations; A Little Shaky on DetailsHere's what United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, in a news conference today: " '[Israeli] Defense Minister Barak said to me it was a grave mistake and he took it very seriously,' " which would seem to prove that the Jews did it, but now see the error of their ways.
Reality Check Number OneThat's not quite the whole picture. Israel's spokesman, Mark Regev, said that the matter is still being investigated. Which is quite plausible, considering that the attack happened less than 24 hours ago. Regev also said "Defense Minister Ehud Barak actually told the U.N. chief that 'if it was Israel's fire, it was a grave mistake.' "
That's a very subtle distinction, it seems, for international diplomats and the reporters who cover them to grasp, so Regev tried to clarify his remark, saying:
"...it was 'not clear whose shells, whose fire hit the U.N. facility.'
" 'It could have been ours, it could have been Hamas', ' Regev said. 'This is being investigated.' "
Reality Check Number TwoWe're nowhere close to knowing the whole picture. At this point, less than a day after the attack, I doubt that anyone does. "The fog of war" isn't just a literary phrase. Things aren't quite as clear to people in the middle of a battlefield as they are in a well-written documentary.
The Israeli Defense Minister probably doesn't know exactly what happened. The United Nations Secretary-General certainly doesn't. It takes time, even under ideal circumstances, to interview people, find and collect evidence, correlate testimony and physical evidence, and come up with an answer to 'what happened?' that is reasonably accurate and complete.
- "United Nations Schools Okay With Hiring Terrorists"
(January 14, 2009)
- "U.N. Building in Gaza Strip Is Hit by Strike From Israel"
The New York Times (January 15, 2009)
- "U.N. condemns shelling of aid complex, blames Israel"
CNN (January 15, 2009)
- "UN outraged after Israel shells its compound"
International Herald Tribune (January 14, 2009)
- "Israelis shell hospitals and UN HQ"
Al Jazeera (January 15, 2009)