On September 3, we noted The Guardian’s report that an unemployed Gaza man had died after setting himself alight, apparently in protest over his family’s dire living conditions.
For Harriet Sherwood, it was all too easy to lead the reader to hold Israel responsible for the young man’s plight simply by drawing attention to the Israeli blockade of Gaza. No consideration that Hamas rule over the territory could be in any way a factor in Gaza’s social and economic issues.
But it wasn’t just Hamas that Sherwood omitted. An Associated Press story fills in some of the blanks (emphasis added):
The family lived in a seaside slum in Gaza City. Of four children, two worked part time as cleaners. The father told Palestinian news service Maan his son sold bags of potato chips on the street sometimes, but he was frequently harassed by Hamas police. …
The father blamed Palestinian infighting for their family’s woes. He said he appealed to both governments, Hamas and Abbas’ Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, to help his family, but received no response.
So while the victim’s own family blamed Palestinian infighting, Harriet Sherwood, by means of omitting vital context and relevant information, allowed Guardian readers to reach their default setting – blame Israel.
And if further proof were needed as to why the Israeli blockade of Gaza is not the primary motivating force behind Palestinian self-immolation, what about another Palestinian attempt to set himself on fire, this time in the West Bank where there is, of course, no blockade.