Hill Times Column Relies On Hamas Disinformation To Demonize Israel

March 31, 2024

When penning an opinion piece, the importance of rigorous fact-checking cannot be overstated, and that is especially true on such a contentious issue as the Israel-Hamas war. Neither can one conveniently ignore counter-arguments, or broader contexts.

It is not to suggest that there cannot be criticism; rather, every written piece demands that critiques be rooted in accuracy – as a matter of journalistic integrity, and to ensure that the reader is not subject to disinformation. Unfortunately, a March 21 commentary in The Hill Times entitled: “When it comes to Gaza, political insincerity is not cutting it” by Bhagwant Sandhu, contained these and other serious problems.

Sandhu, according to the commentary, is a retired director general from the federal public service, who’s also held executive positions with the governments of Ontario and British Columbia.

The first glaring issue came from this line in his op-ed: “with the death count in Gaza nearing 31,000…” Neither the writer, nor the newspaper’s editors, explained where this number came from: the Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health.

This is the same Ministry of Health that lied about how 500 people were killed at the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza last October (it was really around fifty) and who lied that the rocket was a direct hit on the hospital (it hit the parking lot) and also lied that it was an Israeli airstrike (It was an errant rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad). An honest commentary would have also pointed out that the Ministry does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its death tolls.

Recent reports have shown that the Ministry’s number is highly suspect, and inflated beyond reason.

Abraham Wyner, a professor of statistics at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, pointed out that: “Hamas also blames all deaths on Israel even if caused by Hamas’ own misfired rockets, accidental explosions, deliberate killings, or internal battles.”

The Washington Institute’s study showed the numbers are “completely unreliable” and the American Enterprise Institute expanded on the idea that the toll as given by this Hamas organ is fictitious.

Sandhu mentioned that the Trudeau government initially cut funding from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – a UN body supposedly tasked to care for Palestinian refugees and to give out aid to Palestinians. In fact, Canada only paused and then backpedaled on the promise and restored funding, but contrary to his assessment, UNRWA is not “the most credible food delivery agency for Gaza.” And that’s not really saying much at all. The agency lost credibility when Hamas routinely steals aid. UN Watch revealed that this “credible” agency supplied electricity, aid and military cover for terrorists. In a published interview, UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini acknowledged that the work of his agency is replaceable, but said that the Palestinians have refused any alternative because they know the agency is politicized. And while UNRWA workers ought to distribute aid to Gazans, more than 1,200 UNRWA employees in Gaza—representing 10% of UNRWA’s Gaza workforce—are Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives.

Sandhu further pointed out that Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, announced a $1-million government grant to investigate allegations of rape and violence allegedly perpetrated by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) against Palestinians. “We believe Palestinian women,” she posted.

Untold by Sandhu, Israel strenuously rejects these “despicable and unfounded” allegations. Israeli authorities haven’t received any complaints, but say they remain “ready to investigate any concrete claims of misconduct by its security forces when presented with credible allegations and evidence.”

While Israel adheres to international law and upholds human rights standards, the UN and other human rights organizations, moved at a glacial pace to denounce Hamas’ serial rape, mutilation and sexual violence against Israeli girls and women on October 7.

In recent days, Al Jazeera retracted its incendiary and baseless reporting claiming that Israeli soldiers raped women in a Gazan hospital. While claims of sexual violence against women, especially in times of war, must be treated with sensitivity and receive thorough investigations, we must ensure that such claims cannot be weaponized to demonize and delegitimize Israel.

Bhagwant Sandhu’s column in The Hill Times, with its reliance on Hamas disinformation, did little to inform Canadians about the Hamas-Israel war and only served to mislead Canadians.

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