ABC Promotes Anti-Israel Critic Who Ranted Against 'Israeli Terror Machine'

On Friday's World News with Charles Gibson, ABC anchor Gibson ran a one-sided story on the lingering dangers to civilians of cluster bombs that were used by the Israeli military in Lebanon. The story, filed by correspondent Wilf Dinnick, promoted the complaints of a UN worker named Jihad Samhat without mentioning his history of vitriolic bias against Israel. As can be seen on his blog, Samhat has referred to the "Israeli terror machine" that is "sponsored by the West," accusing Israel of "barbaric aggression," the "murder of innocent civilians," and committing a "massacre" at Qana. Samhat's blog even charged that Israel "targeted and killed many innocent civilians in their attempt to escape," as if the Israeli military deliberately killed civilians. ABC did not inform viewers of Samhat's history of bias against Israel, instead bolstering him as a "former American soldier" who "works for the UN's Mine Action Center." (Transcripts follow)

The bulk of the 2 minute 38 second story was spent highlighting complaints by Samhat about the negative consequences of Israel's airstrikes, reserving only 8 seconds to convey the Israeli government's rebuttal and rationale for using the weapons. Ironically, during the same broadcast, Gibson highlighted an award bestowed upon the late Peter Jennings, who, during his reign at ABC News, had himself exhibited a long history of bias against Israel.

Gibson introduced the story on the war's "legacy" and informed viewers that the U.S. "is investigating whether Israel used [cluster bombs] improperly."

Charles Gibson: "We are going to take 'A Closer Look' tonight at a legacy of the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah. The legacy being small but powerful explosives, 'bomblets' they are called, scattered all across Southern Lebanon. They were unleashed by the cluster bombs that Israel dropped by the thousands. The U.S., which manufactured most of the bombs, is investigating whether Israel used them improperly. But no one disputes that the bombs are injuring and killing civilians right now. ABC's Wilf Dinnick is in Southern Lebanon."

Dinnick soon introduced Samhat as a "former American soldier" who "works for the UN's Mine Action Center." Dinnick: "This former American soldier is trying to collect the small bomblets before civilians stumble on them. ... Jihad Samhat is from California. He now works for the UN's Mine Action Center."

After describing the dangers of unexploded bomblets and recounting an example of a young man killed after stepping on a bomblet, Dinnick relayed that Lebanon "accuses Israel of violating international law by dropping the bombs in populated areas."

Dinnick gave an Israeli government spokesman a 5-second sound bite to defend his military's actions.

Dinnick: "Israeli officials argue they had no choice."

Mark Regev, Israeli Government Spokesman: "One of the problems of the recent conflict in Lebanon was that Hezbollah, of course, used the Lebanese population as a human shield."

Dinnick concluded with a sound bite of Samhat contending that the American public would agree with him that cluster bombs should not be used. Samhat: "I would definitely say that the population of the United States of America would agree with me that cluster munitions are a bad thing and they should not be used."

Although the story briefly alluded to the tendency of Hezbollah terrorists to locate their military targets in civilian areas, the story did not mention other facts that might have cast the Israeli military in a more favorable light or at least put the issue into greater perspective. For example, the Israeli military had a policy of dropping leaflets on civilian areas to warn them of airstrikes. Additionally, other nations -- including even NATO members during the Kosovo War , and the U.S. during the Iraq War, have also attracted criticism in their use of cluster bombs. And, while the U.S. population has not been polled directly on the subject, the U.S. Senate has already spoken on the issue by voting down, by a 70 to 30 margin, a proposal by Democrats to try to further restrict where the U.S. and Israel can use cluster bombs.

As for Samhat's history of Israel-bashing, on his blog posting dated July 31, after referring to airstrikes at Qana as a "massacre," Samhat complained about the "Israeli terror machine" that "has brought silence to dozens of civilians."

In an August 2 posting, Samhat accused Israel of "targeting civilians trying to escape." Samhat: "The IDF has informed residents of the south to evacuate however as you may already know targeted and killed many innocent civilians in there attempt to escape."

On August 3, Samhat again labelled an attack on Qana as a "massacre," and railed against Israeli Prime Minister Olmert's "aggressive, arrogant, tried, and failed foreign policy."

Samhat further attacked Israel and the U.S. for committing "murder" and "barbaric aggressions": "The more you murder and kill the innocent, the more you will be pitching people united against you.!! You are the ones who are fostering and brewing hatred, because everyone here has lost someone or something as a result of your barbaric aggressions."

He also called on Israel and America to "be fair and not greedy." Samhat: "So try something new….. It’s called reasoning and diplomacy, it’s called reaching out and RESPECT for others. It’s called being fair and not greedy!!! I believe that’s all it will take and only what will work to finally reach an everlasting PEACE."

The August 3 entries were re-written and ran as an article at peacereporter.net.

Below is a complete transript of the story from the Friday October 6 World News with Charles Gibson, followed by transcripts of relevant portions of Jihad Samhat's blog entries:

Charles Gibson: "We are going to take 'A Closer Look' tonight at a legacy of the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah. The legacy being small but powerful explosives, 'bomblets' they are called, scattered all across Southern Lebanon. They were unleashed by the cluster bombs that Israel dropped by the thousands. The U.S., which manufactured most of the bombs, is investigating whether Israel used them improperly. But no one disputes that the bombs are injuring and killing civilians right now. ABC's Wilf Dinnick is in Southern Lebanon."

Wilf Dinnick: "They litter the Lebanese countryside -- small as a soda can, lying in the rubble, hidden in the dirt. Cluster bombs so lethal, they can pierce armor."

Jihad Samhat, UN Mine Action Center: "These are the clusters that are in this town alone."

Dinnick: "This former American soldier is trying to collect the small bomblets before civilians stumble on them."

Samhat: "This is a strike area."

Dinnick: "Jihad Samhat is from California. He now works for the UN's Mine Action Center."

Samhat: "This specific type of cluster is an M-42, American cluster bomb."

Dinnick: "Israel dropped more than 100,000 shells filled with cluster bombs on Lebanon during the 34-day war. And most of them were made in America. More than a month after the cease-fire, they are still exploding -- triggered by the slightest touch, injuring on average, three people a day. It has become especially dangerous now that the people of Southern Lebanon have begun to return to towns like this one, where they're rebuilding homes, starting to work the orchards, and they're finding hundreds of unexploded cluster bombs. Khalil Turkiya's 24-year-old son, Ali, was picking lemons in the family orchard when he stepped on one. 'Ali survived the war,' he says, 'only to be killed last week.' The Lebanese army accuses Israel of violating international law by dropping the bombs in populated areas. Israeli officials argue they had no choice."

Mark Regev, Israeli Government Spokesman: "One of the problems of the recent conflict in Lebanon was that Hezbollah, of course, used the Lebanese population as a human shield."

Samhat: "I would definitely say that the population of the United States of America would agree with me that cluster munitions are a bad thing and they should not be used."

Dinnick: "Samhat says his team is finding and safely destroying a handful of cluster bombs every day. But the UN estimates there may be as many as one million still out there. Wilf Dinnick, ABC News, Zaoutar, Lebanon."

Below are relevant portions of Jihad Samhat's blog entries:

From August 3:

I never felt sadder than this anytime in my life, and kept asking myself on our way back to Tyre “why does the world let this go on.?”

Even after the images the night before of the Qana massacre, and the outcry for an immediate and long-lasting ceasefire the Israeli PM Ehud Olmert asked Ms. Condy Rice for another 12-14 days to finish the job.

For God sake!! Hasn’t enough innocent blood been shed? Haven’t enough lives been destroyed? Doesn’t he realize that this same aggressive, arrogant, tried, and failed foreign policy doesn’t work here? That he is creating more hatred towards him and his people.

I think its time the U.S. and Israel wake up! Your foreign policy doesn’t work! If it did there would have been peace along time ago!! We are not Japan!! You cannot bring Lebanon to its knees!!

The more you murder and kill the innocent, the more you will be pitching people united against you.!! You are the ones who are fostering and brewing hatred, because everyone here has lost someone or something as a result of your barbaric aggressions.

Stop this madness!! And really think about what you’re trying to accomplish! It CAN’T be done with FORCE!! It could NEVER be done with FORCE! You have tried again and again, and you have FAILED again and again!!!

So try something new….. It’s called reasoning and diplomacy, it’s called reaching out and RESPECT for others. It’s called being fair and not greedy!!! I believe that’s all it will take and only what will work to finally reach an everlasting PEACE.

Jihad Samhat

Let’s give PEACE a chance….!


From August 2:

The IDF has informed residents of the south to evacuate however as you may already know targeted and killed many innocent civilians in there attempt to escape. Therefore, many innocent civilians were afraid to stay in there towns and villages and afraid to leave due to the risk of being targeted.


From July 30:

Dear All,

I am writing you this with a deeper sadness then ever. Today has by far been the worst day since the start of this war. I woke up this morning to hear of another massacre in Qana (village south of Tyre), it was like de ja vu. Only ten years ago (1996) this was the place of a gross massacre which happened inside a UN peacekeepers compound which killed over one hundred-fifty civilians, still very fresh in everyone?s memories.

Now again the Israeli terror machine has brought silence to dozens of civilians. I am totally destroyed at the number of children I counted being removed from underneath the rubble of what was a civilian shelter. With my own eyes I counted twenty-seven dead children, not including the women and the elderly. I could not keep count anymore. I want to SCREAM!!! Why!!!

Is our War time President George W and his puppet Tony Blair protecting the American and British public by endorsing and sponsoring all of this murder in the name of ?Fighting Terror???? Or are they in fact laying the corner stones for more terror cells to emerge out of hate for the West and their allies.

I have included photo attachments of the massacre in Qana. I choose not to include graphic pictures of dead children and civilians. For those of you, who wish to see those graphic images, just watch Al Jazera TV or I?m sure you can find them on the net (there?s plenty).

The photos includ the destroyed house that fifty-plus (now dead) civilians were seeking shelter in and other destroyed homes in the area. Also a picture of one of the youngest survivors a four year old boy named Hasan Shalhoub lying in his hospital bed. Unfortunately his six year old sister didn?t make it.

Enough is Enough!! Speak Loud against this terror machine that is sponsored by the West.

Sincerly
Jihad Samhat

Give PEACE a Chance