Twitter, FillyStein & Me
By Phil McElhinney at Oct 12, 2011
On the 21st August a twitter user calling themselves @FillyStein tweeted:
"Just today, Gaza terrorists launched 22 rockets into Israel, while 50 Gazans entered Israel for medical treatment.comments?"
@Filly Stein directed this tweet at another twitter user @xv_brigada (hence the word “comments?”) and this was an exact copy of a tweet posted earlier the same day by @IDFSpokesperson (the twitter account of the Israeli army).
I responded by asking:
"so Israeli hospitals treat Gazans? isn't that what hospitals are for to treat the sick/injured?"
"hand on heart would Hamas treat injured Israelis if boot on other foot? Honestly now..."
I was going to reply to this but decided not too, a quick glance at @FillyStein’s previous tweets show that he or she is fanatically pro-Israel and his/her tweets could’ve been written by Benjamin Netanyahu himself. There is more chance of convincing someone that the earth is flat then of @FillyStein acknowledging that Israel may have done something wrong. (@FillyStein gives their name as Evelyn a unisex name so I don't know if they are male or female)
However on 22nd September @FillyStein posted another tweet to me and @xv_brigada :
"Hamas believes that sick R human shields - see Hamas leaders hiding out under Shifa…[al-Shifa hospital in Gaza]…during Cast Lead"
When I read this I thought I should reply.
To take @FillyStein's points one by one. "Just today…[21st August 2011]…Gaza terrorists launched 22 rockets into Israel", well also on the 21st August the Gaza strip endured another day of Israeli closure, Palestinians endured another day of occupation without their own state, the residential dwellings destroyed by Israel during Cast Lead still lay in ruins, and people left homeless during the onslaught were still living in tents, 80% of Palestinians were requiring humanitarian aid and any boat that tries to bring them aid just get attacked by the Israeli army on the high seas all on the 21st August - I could go to talk about the refugees and land confiscation but I'll leave it there.
As for @FillyStein’s boast that "50 Gazans entered Israel for medical treatment" well so what? Isn’t that what hospitals are for to treat sick & injured people regardless of ethnicity or nationality? Or is @FillyStein saying that we should fall on our knees and praise Israeli hospitals for not being racist and treating Palestinians as well as Israelis. I would guess that right now many people from many different countries are being given treatment in British hospitals but I don’t go around the world telling everyone about it and I certainly wouldn’t post it on twitter.
@FillyStein says "hand on heart would Hamas treat injured Israelis if boot on other foot? Honestly now" Hamas do not treat injured Israelis - doctors and nurses do. If an injured Israeli was brought to a Gaza hospital I would guess that a Palestinian doctor would treat them because that’s what doctors do and it is why they enter the medical profession.
For an example of a Palestinian doctor treating Israelis look up Dr. Ezzeldin Abu al-Aish. Dr Abu al-Aish was a Palestinian living in Gaza but worked as a gynaecologist at Israel’s largest hospital, Tel Hashomer near Tel Aviv and look what Israel did to him and his family. During operation Cast lead three of his daughters were killed by Israel tank fire. He often gave reports over the telephone to Israel’s Channel 10 TV of what was happening in Gaza (Israel had banned journalists from entering to the strip). His immediate reaction to the death of his daughters was broadcast on Israeli television and can be seen here (note the reaction of the Israeli presenter who is visibly moved). His reaction to this tragedy was to write a book called ‘I Shall not Hate’ of which Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel said "This story is a necessary lesson against hatred and revenge.(1 See Below)" An investigation by the Israeli army concluded that the death of the doctors children had been a ‘mistake’, there had been no firing from his house (contrary to what the Israeli army had first claimed) and there was no Hamas arms cache at his home, Dr Abu al-Aish gave a typical response "we all make mistakes” he said “and we don't repeat them."(2)
If there is any reason why a Palestinian doctor would not treat anyone it is not because they might be an Israeli but because they don't have the resources because of Israel's closure and according to al-Jazeera the US and Israel put pressure on the Palestinian Authority not to send supplies to the Gaza strip.
@FillyStein says that "Hamas believes that sick R human shields - see Hamas leaders hiding out under Shifa...[hospital in Gaza]... during Cast Lead" This was a claim made by Yuval Diskin the head of Shin Bet the Israeli intelligence service who told the Israeli cabinet that members of Hamas were hiding in hospitals and disguising themselves as medical staff. Khaled Hassan, the director of Shifa hospital said these claims were "complete lies….if Diskin has proof he should show it." he added that members of the media and red Cross move freely around the hospital "If there were [Hamas] activists here, they would have photographed them by now". Hassan also said ""I just hope that Diskin is not attempting to lay the groundwork for an inhumane attack on hospitals. That would be complete madness." Well that is what he may have been doing; In a report entitled Rain of Fire Human Rights watch describe Israel's use of white phosphorus during Cast Lead including an attack on al-Quds hospital saying: "The [hospitals] administration building and top two floors of the main hospital building were gutted by fire caused by air-burst white phosphorus munitions. The hospital is clearly marked and there does not appear to have been fighting in that immediate area at the time"(3)
If @FillyStein really wants to know about human shields he should look at the Amnesty International report which said that the Israeli army "repeatedly took over Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip forcing families to stay in a ground-floor room while they used the rest of their house as a military base and sniper position – effectively using the families, both adults and children, as “human shields” and putting them at risk." (page 48)
Before @FillyStein accuses me of being biased or having an agenda against Israel let me say that I have spent nearly one year in Israel including six months on a kibbutz and three months working on a moshav on the Golan Heights. (Which is actually part of Syria but never mind).
If @FillyStein ever addresses another of their tweets to me I don't know if I'll bother replying. I don't mind engaging with people and having a debate but @FillyStein just repeats anything the Israeli army or government say without questioning it at all. In this persons mind all the media is biased against Israel, every government is biased against Israel, Israel is unjustly criticised when it kills Palestinians in 'self defence' but these same people remain silent when Palestinians kill Israelis. This persons own tweets (the ones not copied from other people) are pretty pathetic; a recent example - directed at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas - "I am Abbas I lie as easily as I breathe" is pretty dull and a bit childish; if I want to know what dull right wing Israeli's are saying I'll just listen to their prime minister.
(1) Not everyone was as sympathetic. At a press conference shortly after his daughters deaths Dr Abu al-Aish was saying there is no difference between Israeli’s and Palestinians and that the two people can live together. He had to stop when a man and a woman burst in to the room and shouted “Who knows what you had in your house?” implying that Dr Abu al-Aish was either hiding weapons or his home was being used by Hamas gunman, they then shout “if there hadn’t been fire coming from the house they [the Israeli army] wouldn’t have hit it” there is a video of the press conference here. The man and the woman (who says she has a son in the Israeli army) enter after 48 seconds, watch to the end to see Dr Abu al-Aish being surrounded by alot of embarrassed Israeli's.
(2) @FillyStein might like to compare Dr Abu al-Aish to the Israeli doctor Baruch Goldstein. Goldstein was a New York born orthodox jew who moved to Israel in 1983 and served as a phycisian in the Israeli army, according to some reports while he was in the army he refused to treat injured arabs. On the 25th February 1994 Dr Baruch Goldstein walked into a mosque in Hebron and opened fire with an assault rifle killing 29 Palestinians worshipping inside the mosque. (I can't imagine Dr Abu al-Aish doing anything like this). Why is this Hebron massacre significant? Because three months later on April 6th 1994 the first suicide attack was carried out in Israel, the attack in Afula killed eight people and was in retaliation for Goldstein's massacre. The next time there's a suicide attack in Israel say a little thank you to Dr Baruch Goldstein.
(3) According to Amnesty international white phosphorus "is extremely dangerous for humans as it causes deep burns through muscle and down to the bone, continuing to burn until deprived of oxygen. It can contaminate other parts of the body, or even people treating the injuries, poisoning and irreparably damaging internal organs. Burn victims suffering a relatively small percentage of burns – 10 to 20 per cent – who would normally survive, often die if the burns are from white phosphorus."(page 28) "Israeli forces made extensive use of white phosphorus, often launched from 155mm artillery shells, in residential areas, causing death and injuries to civilians. Homes, schools, medical facilities and UN buildings – all civilian objects – took direct hits."(page 27)