The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen has written a 'Gaza notebook' for the New Statesman. (Well, did you really think it would be for the Spectator or the Jewish Chronicle?). It is strikingly opinionated, even by his standards.
He uses it to dispute Benjamin Netanhayu's claims that Hamas uses civilians as human shields; indeed, even going so far as to paint Hamas in a rather protective-sounding light:
I saw Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, giving an interview to the BBC after Israel had killed more than 60 people in the Gaza district of Shejaiya. He said he regretted the civilian casualties in Gaza but they were the fault of Hamas. Netanyahu said Israel had warned people to get out. Some had taken the advice; others had been prevented from leaving by Hamas.
I was back in London for my son’s 11th birthday party by the time all those people were killed in Shejaiya. But my impression of Hamas is different from Netanyahu’s. I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields. I saw men from Hamas on street corners, keeping an eye on what was happening. They were local people and everyone knew them, even the young boys.
This comes despite Hamas publicly advocating the use of civilians as human shields (something Jeremy Bowen fails to acknowledge). The Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, was caught (by MEMRI) speaking on a local station recently, saying:
This attests to the character of our noble, jihad-loving people – who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood.
The policy of people confronting the Israeli warplanes with their bare chests in order to protect their homes has proven effective against the occupation… we in Hamas call upon our people to adopt this policy in order to protect the Palestinian homes.
And yet Jeremy Bowen dismisses it all, even after UNRWA found Hamas rockets in two of its Gazan schools, and despite credible reports that some civilians are deliberating ignoring Israel's warnings and that groups of civilians have actually gathered at targeted buildings in order to serve as human shields [see Channel 4's FactCheck blog].
A week in Gaza, and yet Jeremy Bowen "saw no evidence...of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields".
Presumably, the blinkers he was wearing at the time didn't help.