On the very first day of OCL, I pointed out something that has been all but ignored by the media (but that I had mentioned earlier): Hamas declared war on Israel on December 24th, a full three days before Cast Lead.
Gaza - Ma'an - The military wing affiliated to Hamas, Al-Qassam Brigades released a statement on Thursday morning [ 2008- December 25 ] briefing the group's military activities over the first twenty four hours of an operation they called "Oil Stain" which started Wednesday morning.
According to the statement, a total of 87 shells have been fired at Israeli targets bordering the Gaza Strip including 54 mortar shells, 31 homemade projectiles which Hamas calls "Qassam", and two Soviet-made Grad missiles.
HRW [Human Rights Watch] characterizes the entire war as "Israel’s three-week-long military offensive in Gaza that began on December 27." It isn't even a war - it is simply framed as Israeli aggression. And this is in a report about Hamas rocket fire!
Goldstone's chapter headings [ in Judge Goldstone's report , adopted by the U.N. ] show this false framework as well:
III. EVENTS OCCURRING BETWEEN THE “CEASEFIRE” OF 18 JUNE 2008 BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE GAZA AUTHORITIES AND THE START OF ISRAEL’S MILITARY OPERATIONS IN GAZA ON 27 DECEMBER 2008
VI. OVERVIEW OF MILITARY OPERATIONS CONDUCTED BY ISRAEL IN GAZA BETWEEN 27 DECEMBER 2008 AND 18 JANUARY 2009 AND DATA ON CASUALTIES
Even though Hamas wants to be known as a masculine defender of Arab rights in Arabic, and it was proud to take credit for starting the war back in 2008, it has realized the immense value of the false framework provided by Goldstone and HRW and Amnesty and the mainstream media. So it has adopted that framework simply because it puts Israel at a disadvantage.
This is one of the biggest issues that Israel faces when speaking to the world. The idea of Israel as aggressor is so ingrained in the fabric of the discussion that it is not easy for even Israel's defenders to recognize it when they see it. It is especially difficult in the heat of a debate to be able to step back and challenge the questioner as to their implicit assumptions.
One fact is clear - Hamas started the war, and they bragged about it. Any narrative of the Gaza War that does not recognize that simple fact is inherently biased from the outset. No mater how prestigious the NGO or media outlet that promulgates this lie - it is still a lie, and that lie must be corrected.