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Update: Michael Oren Owes Bernie Sanders an Apology

Ruins in Beit Hanoun, August 2014 Photos of the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. Taken by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem field researcher in Gaza, on 5 August 2014, in the course of the ceasefire. Whole sections of Beit Hanoun have been demolished, making it one of the hardest hit communities in the recent offensive, along with Gaza City, Beit Lahiya, Khuza’ah and Rafah.

Ruins in Beit Hanoun, August 2014 Photos of the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. Taken by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem field researcher in Gaza, on 5 August 2014, in the course of the ceasefire. Whole sections of Beit Hanoun have been demolished, making it one of the hardest hit communities in the recent offensive, along with Gaza City, Beit Lahiya, Khuza’ah and Rafah.

Hasbara Club News – By Michael Hess. The sheer dishonesty of the arguments put forth by popular right wing figures when it comes to Israel is breathtaking. Most recently Michael Oren claiming “blood libel” about a figure bandied about in a New York Daily News interview that Sanders was candidly not sure about.

Sanders: Look, why don’t I support a million things in the world? I’m just telling you that I happen to believe…anybody help me out here, because I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?

Daily News: I think it’s probably high, but we can look at that.

Sanders: I don’t have it in my number…but I think it’s over 10,000. My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.

During the Israeli War on Gaza in 2014, the casualty figures were about 2300 killed and 11,000 injured, a recently released UN report said that Israel killed more Palestinians during 2014 than in any other year since beginning of the 1967 occupation, from the Guardian:

Israel’s activities in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem resulted in the deaths of 2,314 Palestinians and 17,125 injuries, compared with 39 deaths and 3,964 injuries in 2013, according to the annual report (pdf) by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

And to keep all this in perspective, the Jewish Virtual Library maintains figures going all the way back to 1860, yes 1860, including terrorism and wars putting the overall numbers at 24,969 Jews/Israelis killed, and 36,260 injured compared to the number of Arab/Palestinians at 91,105 killed with 78,038 injured.

Senator Sanders did not set a firm figure and clearly asked for help and clarification, he has nothing to apologize for. Oren should apologize for being disingenuous. Yet he continues when it comes to Israel bombing hospitals as if this is some sort of surprise.

Israel Bombed Gaza Hospitals in 2014, Lot’s of Them

Photo taken during the 72-hour ceasefire between Hamas and Israel on 6 August 2014. A destroyed ambulance in Shuja'iyya in the Gaza Strip.

Photo taken during the 72-hour ceasefire between Hamas and Israel on 6 August 2014. A destroyed ambulance in Shuja’iyya in the Gaza Strip.

Israel struck multiple hospitals during it’s 2014 War on Gaza with reports increasingly from traditional media like, NBC News, Another Gaza Hospital Hit by Israeli Strike; Four Dead, 40 Hurt or alternatively MSF, Gaza: MSF Strongly Condemns Attack on Al Shifa Hospital And from Human Rights Watch, Unlawful Israeli Attacks Hit Hospital, Kill Children, Other Civilians:

Israeli forces struck Wafa Hospital, in the Shejai’ya neighborhood, east of Gaza City, on at least three days from July 11 to July 17, 2014. Israeli forces had also shelled the hospital before beginning its ground offensive in December 2008.

Before dawn on July 11, 2014, a possible ‘warning’ missile, which did not explode, hit the hospital’s fourth floor. It was followed later that day by several missile strikes that caused extensive damage. After an attack at about 4 or 5 p.m. the hospital’s director, Dr. Basman al-Ashi, received a phone call from someone speaking ‘Hebrew-accented Arabic who asked if anyone had been injured in the attack and if we were going to evacuate,’ he said. ‘But we couldn’t evacuate when there is no other hospital in Gaza equipped for our patients.” The hospital’s 17 chronically ill, elderly, and paralyzed patients are immobile.

Amnesty International reported that there was evidence of deliberate targeting of hospitals and health professionals in Gaza during the 2014 by Israel:

An immediate investigation is needed into mounting evidence that the Israel Defense Forces launched apparently deliberate attacks against hospitals and health professionals in Gaza, which have left six medics dead, said Amnesty International as it released disturbing testimonies from doctors, nurses, and ambulance personnel working in the area.

“The harrowing descriptions by ambulance drivers and other medics of the utterly impossible situation in which they have to work, with bombs and bullets killing or injuring their colleagues as they try to save lives, paint a grim reality of life in Gaza,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

“Even more alarming is the mounting evidence that the Israeli army has targeted health facilities or professionals. Such attacks are absolutely prohibited by international law and would amount to war crimes. They only add to the already compelling argument that the situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court.”

Israel Bombed Civilian Infrastructure, Lot’s of It

In addition to the bombing of hospitals and medical personnel and infrastructure Israel’s War on Gaza in 2014 also turned lots of Gaza into nothing but unrecognizable rubble. This video at the right is the destruction of a twelve story apartment building the Zafer Tower by Israel.

Just one of more than 20,000 destroyed by Israel including the fifteen-story apartment/office building Basha Tower Gaza’s tallest building. Israel destroyed more than two houses for each member of the 18,000 strong Hamas Executive Force. Israel destroyed civilian homes and infrastructure with wanton abandon as a New York Times detailed graphic analysis showed in August 2014, the ‘Times wrote:

The damage to Gaza’s infrastructure from the current conflict is more severe than the destruction caused by either of the last two Gaza wars, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) and other organizations with staff on the ground, like Oxfam and Human Rights Watch. The fighting has displaced about a fourth of Gaza’s population. Nearly 60,000 people have lost their homes, and the number of people taking shelter in Unrwa schools is nearly five times as many as in 2009. The cost to Gaza’s already fragile economy will be significant: the 2009 conflict caused losses estimated at $4 billion — almost three times the size of Gaza’s annual gross domestic product.

Sander’s Campaign statement

“…During a recent New York Daily News editorial board interview, Sanders was asked about the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. ‘Help me out here because I don’t remember the figures,’ he said before saying his recollection was that 10,000 Palestinians were killed. He then immediately added, ‘Does that sound right?’ The interviewer did a quick search and found that, in fact, more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed and 10,000 were wounded. The United Nations has estimated that 2,104 were killed, including 1,462 civilians. Understanding that his recollection was about the total number of casualties, not the death toll, the senator immediately accepted that correction and the discussion moved on to other topics.

‘The idea that Sen. Sanders stated definitely that 10,000 Palestinians were killed is just not accurate and a distortion of that discussion,’ Briggs said. ‘Bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not be easy. It would help if candidates’ positions on this issue are not distorted.'”

Sanders Campaign statement April 7th, 2016 about Gaza casualty figures

Update with news reporting from The Intercept, Salon and Mondoweiss

Several articles have come out in the aftermath of Michael Oren’s ludicrous demand that Senator Bernie Sanders, America’s most popular politicians and candidate for US President must issue an “apology” for mixing up casualty numbers from Israel’s War on Gaza 2014. As I pointed out Oren was being disingenuous when nitpicking Sander’s obvious uncertainty in the numbers he used, and other news sources have picked up on further specifics on just how disingenuous Oren and other Israeli politicians are being.

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