At dawn on 12 November 2019, an Israeli airstrike targeted a building in Gaza. This airstrike killed the couple Asma and Baha Abu Al-Ata, and injured four of their children and their neighbor. Due to the massive explosion, the bodies of Asma and Baha were found in different places outside the building. Israel proudly announced the killing of Baha Abu Al-Ata, the senior militant leader in Al Quds Brigades. Israel and its friends and allies call such an operation a ‘targeted killing’, as this term gives this form of extra-judicial killings legitimacy. It implies self-defence, suggesting that the attack is a necessary way to ‘neutralize terrorists’. We, the Palestinians, call it assassination.

Israel and its friends and allies call such an operation a ‘targeted killing’ […] We, the Palestinians, call it assassination.

Lian, daughter of Asma and Baha, mourning her parents whom were assassinated in an Israeli airstrike on 12 November

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard the news in the morning was: how can Israel get away with such crimes, and keep promoting its army as the most moral army in the world? How can it keep promoting it as the most vegan army in the world?  

It is the same army that bombed a sleeping family at 4:30am. It is the same army that did not care about bombing a house that had a woman and children inside, and who knows it might have had animals inside too, just because they happened to be the target’s family. The murder of Asma, the wife, during the airstrike did not actually ring any bell in all the news headlines and reports I have come across. Her name was not mentioned anywhere, except in the Palestinian Ministry of Health’s report on the list of people killed in the airstrikes. This was an alarm of how the international public opinion has been manipulated to focus on Israel’s right to self-defence, no matter what. This incident is just an example of how this manipulation works.

Israeli propaganda has been successful when a media article does the following:

  1. Utterly ignores the policies of the prolonged Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land, exploitation of natural resources and deprivation of the Palestinian population of their basic rights.
  2. Disregards the fact that Gaza has been under siege since 2007, endured three wars and many assaults. This has turned Gaza into an unlivable place according to the UN.
  3. Denies the Palestinians their right to resist, on one hand, and on the other hand stigmatises the armed struggle as terrorism.
  4. Correlates any kind of international criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, including BDS.
  5. Does not pay attention to how innocent human and non-human animals are being killed, injured and traumatised due to the Israeli attacks.

Israel expects to get no reaction from those living under occupation and under siege when they assassinate not only those allegedly involved in armed struggle, but also people participating in non-violent protests along the Gaza borders.

At the same time, manipulating facts legitimises assassination, which is murder, which is a crime, by giving it another name: targeted killing. This is the term that the US has used for the killing of Al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists. This unfairly and impudently puts the Palestinian freedom fighters and the extremist terrorists on the same side.

Furthermore, Israel has to a large extent succeeded in making the words “Israel” and “Jews” sound synonymous, making any act of criticism of Israeli policy seem anti-Semitic. This certainly has given Israel impunity against accountability.

Media reports barely mention the fact there were victims of the Israeli airstrikes, other than the target

Media reports barely mention the fact there were victims of the Israeli airstrikes, other than the target, let alone do they mention their names. This helps Israel make it look like this was an operation that neutralised a dangerous terrorist, and that is all.

But, how about the family and the neighbours of the target? How about the animals that may have also been living in the building or in the neighbourhood? No one seems to care, including the most moral and most vegan army in the world.

By the time of writing this article, Israeli airstrikes killed 22 people and injured 69. Among those killed have been parents with their children. In media reports on the airstrikes, the names of the victims may or may not be mentioned. No reports on animal victims.