VG in the Middle East – now also writing about Israeli school kids who must study in shelters

VG is to be praised for a series of articles they have published in recent days, covering Israel from a different perspective than the usual “aggressor” or “child murderer”. Today, they have published an article featuring the lives of Israeli school children who live near the Gaza strip and who routinely must sit their classes in shelters, seeking refuge from rockets thrown indiscriminately at them by Gaza terrorists.

A brief summary (and summaries never are accurate):

The VG team has visited a community in Southern Israel, near the Gaza border. They have visited schools that in their entirety have been converted into shelters to protect the kids from rockets.  During the recent outbreak more than 200 rockets were fired at Israel. Shelters have also been erected near bus stops and give people about 5 to 15 seconds to seek refuge from incoming rockets.

The VG team has interviewed a parent who says that the kids are safer at school than at home, the kids feel safe there, but he add that they try to bring up their kids as normally as possible. The kids have been trained since they were small how to react when the alarm sounds; when they were small he used to throw socks at them in order to teach them so seek shelter from grenades. Now, he add proudly, the kids know exactly what to do. He says it is hard to keep kids happy when the alarm sounds every 10 seconds, but that moving is not an alternative, we have no other country: אין לי ארץ אחרת

An Israeli officer says that the precarious peace brokered by Egypt is very shaky and that it is only a matter of time before violence flares up again. A ground operation might then be on the cards.

There is one glaring mistake in the article however, the VG journalists repeat a claim that a Palestinian school boy was killed and several other teenagers injured in one Israeli attack on Gaza. This story has been exposed as untrue.

A mere 12 days ago did I publish material that refuted this claim, the VG journalists could have done better to check their sources for these fabrications:

Killed in an open area
The news agency NTB, which feeds the  Norwegian media with news from the conflict area, published Monday morning an article entitled “Three killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza Strip.”  The NTB wrote:
Among those killed is a Palestinian 15-year-old, in the north of the Gaza Strip, medical workers said Monday morning. The boy was on his way to school along with several other teenagers and was in an open area, according to a Palestinian source. Six other pupils have been hurt.
NTB repeated the claim that the 15-year-old was killed by Israel, also on Monday afternoon. The Palestinian source, whom the NTB uncritically cites, draws a picture of a premeditated Israeli air attack on peaceful Palestinian children on their way to school. The source was a spokesman in the Palestinian health care services, Adham Abu Selmiya, according to the AFP.

IDF version suppressed
The Norwegian news agency does not mention with a word that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) denies that there was an air strike in the area during that time. The previous Israeli air operations in the area was several hours earlier, at night, according to IDF.

Independent investigation suppressed
NTB also withholds what independent journalists in the area have found out about the episode. A correspondent for the news agency AFP confirmed early Monday morning that there was no sign of an air attack in which the explosion took place.
– There was no evidence on the ground to indicate that a missile caused the explosion. The most likely cause of his death is [that] some explosives that he carried with him [were triggered], the AFP writes. The boy lost his legs in the explosion and his body was covered with shrapnel injuries.
Six other school children were injured by the explosion, two of them seriously. In NTB version, and in the mind of Norwegian newspaper readers, these were the victim of a brutal military power. In reality, it seems that they have suffered injuries because one of their comrades carried explosives with him on the way to school.

On balance though, it is good that VG makes the effort to improve its coverage, that is a trend they safely can carry with them into the future!