Media Cheat Sheet 10/30/2011

Everything you need to know about today’s media coverage of Israel.

Today’s coverage focused on Gaza rocket fire and Israeli retaliation. Unfortunately, some journos skewed the chronology while others used non-judgmental shorthand giving the impression Israel sparked the fighting. Moshe Ami was buried in Ashkelon after succumbing to shrapnel wounds.

Gaza Heats Up

• In Ashkelon, Moshe Ami, died of injuries from yesterday’s rocket barrage. Islamic Jihad released a video of a truck-mounted multi-barrel launcher firing five rockets in rapid succession. An IDF airstrike earlier on Saturday eliminated an Islamic Jihad squad getting ready to launch more rockets. Good overall piece at Israel HaYom.

Shortly before publishing this post, Haaretz reported that an Israeli air strike hit a terror squad preparing to launch rockets at Israel “hours after the Islamic Jihad announced it had accepted an Egyptian-mediated truce . . .”

• Thumbs up to the LA Times for striking the right nuance:

Palestinian sources said five Islamic Jihad militants were killed in an initial Israeli airstrike near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, including a prominent maker of rockets. Israeli news reports said the airstrike targeted a cell responsible for launching a rocket into Israel recently.

The army said the strike was not in retaliation for an attack, but was instead a preventive action.

• Unfortunately, The Guardian describes a situation where violence just seems to occur. Don’t you hate it when this happens?

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.

AP‘s verbal gymnastics avoids blaming anyone for the latest Gaza violence:

Israel and Gaza-based Palestinian militants launched retaliatory attacks on each other on Sunday . . .

“Retaliatory attacks on each other?” Sounds like my kids fighting with each other.


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 . . .

•  Melanie Phillips (parts one and two) slams the Beeb for “airbrushing out Palestinian attacks.”

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’.

This reporting is simply disgraceful and inexcusable.

• Strange chronology in the Financial Times (click via Google  News):

The weekend escalation was triggered by an Israeli air strike on Saturday that left five members of the Islamic Jihad militant group dead. Gaza-based rocket squads responded with a barrage of rockets, mortars and missiles that killed one Israeli man in the southern city of Ashkelon, and continued into Sunday morning. At least two further Israeli air raids on Gaza left another four members of Islamic Jihad dead, Gaza medical sources said on Sunday.

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.

The FT also included this observation:

Hopes that the deal would lead to a lasting decrease in tensions and violence in and around Gaza have now been dashed.

Believe me — nobody had hopes of Bibi and Haniyeh getting together for a Kerem Shalom Kumbaya campfire. The only dashed hopes were in the FT newsroom. Aaron David Miller already articulated the real world’s  expectations.

• According to the Jerusalem Post, Palestinians worry that Israel’s attacks on Gaza are a pretext to avoid releasing 550 prisoners in phase two of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap.

• For real-time updates of Gaza developments on Twitter, follow @idfspokesperson.

Peace Process

• Mahmoud Abbas admits: Arab world was wrong to reject the 1947 partition plan. Haaretz writes:

“It was our mistake. It was an Arab mistake as a whole,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Channel 2 TV in a rare interview to the Israeli media. “But do they (the Israelis) punish us for this mistake for 64 years?”

Abbas also contended that he and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were “very, very close” to reaching a peace agreement in 2008, before the Israeli leader left office under a cloud of corruption allegations.

Yes, it was a mistake, but Abbas’s regrets won’t undo 64 years of history. And he has to take responsibility for turning down Olmert’s 2008 offer. I liked Yisrael Medad‘s reaction.

Reuters picks up on an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood delegation visited Gaza for the  first time.

Gilad Shalit Followup

• A Palestinian columnist close to Hamas says Israel should release prisoners to prevent further kidnappings. With tongue in cheek, I suggest Israel immediately start arresting more Palestinians because Hamas has inflated the value of Israeli soldiers and promises more kidnappings anyway.

Haaretz columnist Alon Idan channels his twisted inner Deborah Orr.

• Ariel Sharon’s confidante, Dov Weissglass, slams the prisoner swap. The Independent and Daily Telegraph made some hay over this.

Arab Spring

With advanced Libyan arms flooding into Gaza, El Al is advancing plans to equip airliners with a laser defense system. The Times of London has a paywall, so here’s the key snippet:

Each system includes a missile launch indicator, a thermal image camera and a laser jamming beam. It is said to be fully automatic, requiring no input from the flight deck. Developed by an Israeli defence company, the government has agreed to meet the installation cost of about £600,000 per aircraft.

The Israelis believe that smugglers broke into military storage facilities during the Libyan rebellion and stole large quantities of weapons, including Russian-made Igla surface-to-air missiles. The weapons were then allegedly sold to terrorist organisations, among them various Palestinian factions.

• Bashar Assad threatens to burn the Mideast if the West intervenes in Syria. In his first interview with a Western paper since the uprising began, Assad told the Daily Telegraph:

Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake . . . Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?

“Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region.”

For years, I’ve been told that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the region’s core problem. See the fuller version of the interview.

• Cracks in the Syrian army: Defections from Bashar Assad’s armed forces are growing. More significantly, has Assad lost control of his army?

Rest O’ the Roundup

• Your UK license fee money at work: The BBC apologized to Not A Sheep for this map because they were too lazy to include Egypt’s name on Gaza’s other side.

The map accompanied coverage of an incident along the Israel-Gaza border fence in July.

(Hat tip: IsraellyCool)

• If you love hating the Beeb, Peter Oborne slams the BBC’s ossified liberal elitism and falling journalistic standards.

• Picking up on Anat Kamm’s sentencing, AP refers to Haaretz as “the left-leaning Haaretz daily.”

• Last but not least, Israeli soccer star Yossi Benayoun is caught in the middle of an unusual dual loyalty controversy on Twitter. Walt and Mearsheimer, where are you?