Charles Krauthammer has a column in the Washington Post today. In it, he deals with whether or not the killing of the family in Gaza was down to an Israeli shell – of course, he only mentions Israeli arguments for why it couldn't have been, and makes no mention of any counter-arguments, save that they exist.
"Why would Israel deliberately shell a peaceful family on a beach?" he asks. Well, firstly, there are possible motives - for instance to attempt to influence the result of the upcoming Palestinian referendum on the 'Prisoner's Document'. But anyway, who's accusing Israel of deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians? It's just that Israel doesn't care about Palestinian "collateral damage".
Krauthammer frames the tone of the article from the first paragraph, describing how PA President Abbas describes the act as "genocide". If this is true and in context – I can' tell because he didn't provide a source – then it is, of course, ridiculous. But what Abbas says or doesn't say makes no difference to the morality of killing a civilian family, which means he only mentioned it to immediately put the reader against the side of the Palestinians.
However, the article then gets more interesting. Krauthammer says, OK, let's assume for a second that we do not know who caused the shelling (no assumption necessary - that's the reality).
Even then, Krauthammer says, we must ask ourselves, "Who is to blame if Palestinians are setting up rocket launchers to attack Israel — and placing them 400 yards from a beach crowded with Palestinian families on the Muslim Sabbath?"
The answer? "This is another example of the Palestinians' classic and cowardly human-shield tactic — attacking innocent Israeli civilians while hiding behind innocent Palestinian civilians."
Well, at least he managed to bring himself to admit the Palestinian civilians the terrorists are "hiding behind" are innocent. Because, of course, it was innocents that were killed. To understand this concept of "collateral damage" properly, let's export it to a familiar environment. Imagine a gunman, heavily armed, has run into a block of flats. Police helicopters are outside, as are cop cars and policemen and the whole works. Is it justified for the army/police force to then bomb the block of flats in an attempt to get the gunman? Are the civilian casualties acceptable "collateral damage"?
Charles Krauthammer certainly appears to think so. After all, it was the gunman's fault for hiding in the flats in the first place.
Also, note how the first sentence brands all Palestinians as terrorists - "the Palestinians' classic and cowardly human-shield tactic". Nice.