With all of the fully documented, horrific terrorism engulfing the Middle East, we were fascinated by a rather long news piece, headlined “Teenager Cites Ordeal as Captive of Israelis,” prominently featured on Monday in The New York Times.
The story concerned the unverified claims of a 17-year-old Palestinian boy who alleged he was mistreated by the IDF. Ahmed Jamal Abu Raida said he was forced to sleep blindfolded and handcuffed and to search and dig for tunnels in his village near Gaza’s eastern border. Ahmed, reported the Times, “said the soldiers assumed he was connected to Hamas, insulted him and Allah, and threatened to sic a dog on him.”
However, as the Times acknowledged, “His assertions…could not be independently corroborated,” which raises the question as to why, in that case, so much space was devoted to them – particularly since the Times also reported that Ahmed’s father “held a senior position” in the Hamas-controlled government and that “the family forgot to take photographs documenting any abuse in its happiness over the youth’s return, and disposed of the clothing he was given [by Israel] upon his release.”
According to the Times, “The Israeli military confirmed that troops had suspected Ahmed of being a militant and detained him during their ground operation in Gaza, noting his father’s affiliation with Hamas.”
Putting aside the palpable reasonableness of the IDF’s assumption (to say nothing of how well the Israeli action comes off when contrasted with Hamas’s summary executions of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel), we were struck by the snarky wording employed by the Times reporters in describing the IDF’s reaction to their inquiries: “A military spokesman promised several times to provide more details, but ultimately did not deal with the substance of the allegations, saying they had ‘been referred to the appropriate authorities for examination.’ ”
One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts. There is, of course, the possibility that rogue troops violated IDF rules of engagement regarding the treatment of detainees. The Times itself noted the existence of those rules. Surely, ferreting such things out is always a complicated matter – unless, of course, the IDF were to adopt Hamas’s methods of interrogation.
At this point it should come as no surprise that the co-writer of the article, together with Fares Akram, was the Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, whose dispatches from Israel are characterized by a skepticism about Israel’s side of the story that often borders on outright hostility.