The Right to Challenge Coverage of the Middle East

The Amnesty report (Suspend military aid to Israel, Amnesty urges, 23 February) goes into great detail about the US and European sources of arms to Israel. Its research into arms supplies to Hamas is, by contrast, brief and sketchy. It says therefore that such weaponry has been acquired from “clandestine sources”. Israel’s suppliers are clearly listed, but to whom is Amnesty appealing to suspend arms transfers if it cannot discern who is supplying the Palestinian Islamists?

Amnesty also says their long-range missiles have been “purchased abroad” without further comment. While Amnesty has reproduced a table – from Jane’s Defence Weekly – of the Hamas arsenal, it does not indicate that these missiles have substantially advanced in range, number and sophistication since 2001. Yet history is not ignored when it comes to documenting arms transfer to Israel – indeed it takes up half the report. Clearly Amnesty needs to address itself to the closed world of the arms trade to Islamist groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad if it wishes to avert another tragic conflict in Gaza.

Professor Colin Shindler
Soas, University of London

Guardian 26 February 2009

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