Haven’t we been here before? Palestinian terrorists launch or attempt to launch rockets from Gaza on to Israeli towns and cities and Israel responds.
So who is ultimately responsible? And which side is engaged in aggressive acts and which is carrying out defensive measures? You’d think it was obvious.
But not to some of the media covering a barrage of Palestinian missiles that killed one Israeli, injured a number of others and brought terror to the residents of Israel’s south.
Indeed, HonestReporting’s new slideshow “Defending Israel Against Claims of Excessive Force” contains many examples of the kinds of reporting repeated below.
MORE BBC BIAS
The BBC News site reported:
Five Palestinian militants have been killed in a number of Israeli air strikes on the south of the Gaza Strip.
The violence is the most serious since a major prisoner exchange deal earlier this month between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that governs in Gaza.
Melanie Phillips is on the case:
No mention of the Palestinian rocket attack on Ashdod last Wednesday. No mention of the 35 rocket attacks on Israel during the past day, nor the Israeli killed in Ashkelon. Instead, the BBC has given the false impression on its website that the Israelis initiated the attacks — and the only casualties it reported were Palestinian.
This website report was timed as ‘last updated’ at 1412 on Saturday. But even on the midnight Radio Four news bulletin just now there was still no mention of the rocket attacks on Israel over the past day, nor the murdered Israeli, nor of last Wednesday’s Grad attack – merely a vague and weaselly reference to Israel accusing the Palestinians of ‘carrying out recent rocket attacks’.
Phillips followed the progression of headlines and story updates on the BBC:
Anyone going to the BBC website a little later, however, will have seen this item, last updated at 08:38 GMT:
An Israeli man has been killed by a rocket attack from Gaza after nine Palestinian militants were killed by Israeli air strikes on the south of the Gaza Strip. ‘
This was of course quite wrong. The Israeli was murdered in Ashkelon by rocket fire from Gaza following a sequence of events which started last Wednesday with a Grad rocket attack from Gaza on Ashdod. That was followed by an Israeli strike on Gaza targeted at the Islamic Jihad cell which Israel said had carried out Wednesday’s attack and which, it said, was preparing to fire more long-range rockets. That strike in turn was used as the excuse for the barrage of rockets from Gaza yesterday which killed the Israeli in Ashkelon.
So anyone clicking on the BBC News home page and just scanning the headlines there would have received the entirely false impression that the Israeli had been killed because the Palestinians were retaliating to aggressive Israeli attacks.
According to the Financial Times:
The weekend escalation was triggered by an Israeli air strike on Saturday that left five members of the Islamic jihad militant group dead. …
The initial Israeli air strike was apparently connected to the firing of a Grad-type rocket at Israel by an Islamic jihad cell three days earlier.
Just how many rockets does it take for the FT to be convinced that Israel is within its rights to take action?
Some headlines engaged in promoting a narrative of “exchanges of fire” or “back-and-forth violence”:
- Officials: 10 killed in Gaza, Israel in back-and-forth violence – CNN
- Israel-Gaza exchange rocket and air strikes killing 10 – BBC
- Israelis, Palestinians exchange rocket fire; 11 dead – Globe and Mail
Other headlines employed the active tense to describe Israeli measures while describing Palestinian terrorists (or “militants” in media-speak) in passive terms, leaving the reader under the impression that Israel is the chief aggressor:
- Israeli airstrike kills militant in fresh Gaza violence – Washington Post
- Israeli air strikes kill nine militants – The Guardian
- Israeli air strikes kill 10 in Gaza – ABC (Australia)
- Tension high after Israeli air strikes kill nine in Gaza – Irish Times
And if an Israeli air strike targets terrorists about to launch rockets, who exactly has broken a “ceasefire”?
- Israeli airstrike breaks brief Israel-Gaza cease-fire – Christian Science Monitor
- Israeli air strike kills militant in Gaza Strip after truce announced – Daily Telegraph
THE “CYCLE OF VIOLENCE” AND FALSE MORAL EQUIVALENCE
According to The Guardian, violence just seems to occur in some sort of vacuum:
A spiralling round of Israeli air strikes and rocket fire from Gaza claimed the lives of nine Palestinian militants and one Israeli civilian on Saturday following weeks of relative calm.
And in a later article:
The weekend’s cycle of violence began when the Israeli air force targeted a group of militants in southern Gaza on Saturday, claiming the militants were preparing to launch long-range missiles into Israel.
According to CNN:
At least 10 people are dead in Gaza and southern Israel, in a wave of back-and-forth attacks between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants, according to medical and military officials.
Credit to Tim Marshall of Sky News who, in his usual informed manner, says:
Dozens of Grad missiles had been fired into Israel since last Wednesday killing one man and wounding several other civilians. About a dozen cars were destroyed and several buildings damaged. …
After Islamic Jihad fired the first salvo in this latest round of violence Israel responded with air strikes.
VIDEO: TERRORIST SQUAD PREPARING TO LAUNCH ROCKET FROM GAZA
Once again, some media have failed to note that rockets from Gaza are regularly fired into Israel. Those that land in open or non-urban areas or are successfully intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system rarely register on the media radar.
So it’s no surprise when an uninformed readership is presented with half the story that presents Israel as the aggressive force responsible for escalating violence in the region.
If your local media has engaged in this mode of reporting, make sure to take the time to send your emails and letters making it quite clear where responsibility for the violence lies – squarely with the terrorists firing rockets and Hamas, which is ultimately responsible for everything that goes on in the Gaza Strip.