In recent weeks, Israel has faced new threats of terrorist bombings, as Hamas organization promised to unleash 10 suicide bombers. Last week, Israeli intelligence thwarted several terrorist attempts — arresting a terrorist cell in Ramallah comprised of members of Force 17, Yasser Arafat’s elite guard.
Today, an Israeli civilian was murdered by Palestinians when his car was riddled with bullets in a drive-by shooting.
To protect against terrorism, Israel has clamped a blockade on some Palestinian towns, including Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital on the West Bank. Foreign reporters flocked to report on the hardships of Palestinian residents of Ramallah because of the closure. The following are several examples:
- The Washington Post, March 13, 2001: “University on a Troubled Road,Sharon Blockade Cuts Off College in the West Bank.” Lee Hockstader writes: “The roadblock completed the Israeli encirclement of Ramallah, just to the south, the main Palestinian city in the West Bank, and turned it into what some residents are calling an immense open-air prison housing tens of thousands of people.”
- The Los Angeles Times, March 13: “Palestinian Killed at Protest of Blockade,Mideast: Clashes erupt between Israeli troops and those opposed to the cutoff of commercially vital Ramallah.” Mary Curtius reports: “Palestinians denounced what they called the siege of Ramallah as an effort to starve them into abandoning the uprising that erupted at the end of September and has claimed more than 400 lives, most of them Palestinian.”
- The New York Times, March 13: “Sharon Blockades a Palestinian Center in the West Bank.”Joel Greenberg reports: “The Israeli Army today sealed off this city, the unofficial seat of government of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, blocking roads with trenches, mounds of earth and checkpoints backed by tanks and armored troop carriers.”
- The Guardian, March 13: “Trench war escalates on West Bank.” Suzanne Goldenberg writes: “Palestinians say the strategy is turning the West Bank into a prison and their cities into isolated cell blocks.”
These articles give emotional accounts of Palestinians who couldn’t get to school, or were delayed in visiting doctors, or were running short of food. Most stories did mention the Israeli spokesmen concern about impending terrorist attacks emanating from Ramallah.
Unfortunately, the reporters flocking to Ramallah showed anti-Israel bias by omitting the story of another blockade — the daily “Blockade of Terror” imposed by the Palestinian Authority and its constituent groups against Israeli citizens – particularly in suburban Jerusalem. Israelis traveling to doctors and hospitals are also blockaded, children who travel to schools cannot get there or cannot get home after school, and basic services and repairs are often not provided because of the danger to repairmen traveling certain roads.
Please check out the articles listed above as well as your own local newspaper’s coverage of the blockades. If you agree that these constitute biased reporting, write a letter in your own words, or cut-and-paste the critique below.
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Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.
To the Editor:
Your recent coverage of Israel’s blockade of Palestinian towns stresses the hardships placed upon the Palestinian population. However, the recent arrests of Palestinian terrorists who were planning bomb attacks against Israeli civilian targets, including members of Yasser Arafat’s own Force 17 guard, proves that the Israeli blockades were justified in order to protect innocent civilian lives, and to prevent Palestinian violence against Israel from escalating further.
Your coverage of the blockades omits another type of blockade — the “Blockade of Terror” imposed on Israeli civilians by the Palestinian Authority and its allied groups such Fatah, Tanzim and Hamas (officially classified by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization).
In suburban Jerusalem and throughout Israel — as the recent terror attacks in Netanya, Hadera, and at a Tel Aviv-area bus stop testify — Israeli citizens run the risk of sniper attacks, showers of rocks, roadside bombs, and Molotov cocktails.
On March 19, an Israeli civilian was murdered by Palestinians when his car was riddled with bullets in a drive-by shooting.
Frequently, roads have been closed for long hours because of attacks, forcing ambulances to drive routes that take four or five times longer. After a fatal sniper attack on an Israeli motorist a few weeks ago south of Jerusalem, ambulance crews came under Palestinian sniper fire as they attempted to administer first aid.
Tens of thousands of Israeli citizens have been forced to take the following measures over the last six months:
- Travel in armored bulletproof buses.
- Install shatterproof windows in their personal cars (good against stones but not bullets).
- Travel in convoys.
- Install emergency radios and global positioning system (GPS) units in their cars in order to stay in touch with Israeli security authorities.
- Find alternate routes to and from Jerusalem, which adds hours to their drives.
- Purchase bullet-proof vests for themselves and their families. (These vests can cost over $1,000. Most families cannot afford them. If they can afford one, they must decide which family member wears it when traveling.)
- Stock up on emergency medical, food and water supplies in the event of prolonged Palestinian rioting.
- Refrain from all unnecessary travel, particularly at night.
This Palestinian “Blockade of Terror” against Jews is totally indiscriminate. Snipers, bombers and drive-by shooters attack Israeli school children, mothers, and even Arab citizens of Israel.
By contrast, the Israeli blockade of Palestinian towns is defensive in nature, directed at stopping terrorists who are armed and often operating under the direction of the Palestinian Authority.
In the interest of balanced reporting, I respectfully request that equal coverage be given to the hardships and dangers that the Intifada has placed upon Jewish civilians.