The Battle of Shejaiya -- as NOT fit to print in NYT

If you rely on the New York Times, the July 20 battle of Shejaiya turned into a nightmare under Israeli fire, as “terrified residents fled, sometimes past the bodies of those struck down in earlier artillery barrages.”

The headline at the top of the July 21 front page gives the full flavor of the piece: “Neighborhood Ravaged On Deadliest Day So Far For Both Sides in Gaza.”

In reporting what happened, the Times advised readers that at least 60 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers and officers were killed in Shejaiya, as the “shattered neighborhood was quickly becoming a new symbol of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict, underlining the rising cost of this newest Gaza war.”

In a highly emotional, up-close and personal depiction of Shejaiya’s misery, correspondents Anne Barnard and Isabel Kershner tell readers how “the panic Sunday was palpable. Some of the men, women, and children who streamed out of the area were barefoot. Israeli shells crashed all around. The casualties quickly overwhelmed local hospitals.”

To the NY Times, Shejaiya was a peaceful “neighborhood” until it was bombed into rubble by the Israeli military.

A complete picture?  Hardly.

Here’s what Barnard and Kershner fail to tell readers:

Hamas used Shejaiya as an actual fortress for weapons, rockets, tunnels, and command centers, while exploiting its residents as human shields. Calling it merely  a “neighborhood” takes euphemism to a new high.

Shejaiya lies just over the border fence from Israel. After the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, it developed an extensive terrorist infrastructure in this “neighborhood.” In just 13 days, Hamas fired more than 140 rockets from Shejaiya into Israel.

According to the Israeli military, IDF soldiers found 10 openings to terror tunnels in Shejaiya, which are used for infiltrating into Israel, smuggling weapons and launching rockets at Israeli civilians.

While Israel gave residents advance warnings to evacuate Shejaiya, Hamas ordered them to stay put, using civilians as human shields.

For example, aerial photos show the firing of a Grad rocket from a Shejaiya mosque, the launch of an M75 rocket from a Shejaiya hospital, another M75 rocket launch site in a Shejaiya children’s playground, and a Shejaiya rocket facility in a cemetery.

Some “neighborhood” when you scratch below the surface. And when the New York Times is too reluctant to give readers the actual full scoop on Shejaiya.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

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