Palestinian Marathon: Media Runs the Errors

A number of media outlets have covered the Israeli refusal to allow a Gaza marathon runner to cross into the West Bank in order to take part in a Bethlehem marathon. Cue another opportunity for the media to present Israel as the neighborhood bully whose only interest is to deliberately make the lives of Palestinians miserable.

Somewhat ironically, the Bethlehem marathon is presented under the banner of “Right to Movement,” which lends some credence to the IDF’s statement that the marathon has “political overtones.” Indeed, it is clear that the marathon’s message is to highlight restrictions on Palestinian movement – restrictions that exist in order to maintain security for Israelis in the face of the terror threat.

Arguably, Israel might very well have neutered the marathon’s political message by granting the Palestinian runner the necessary permission to exit Gaza and not giving the Palestinians a propaganda gift.

Putting this aside however, at least two of the media reports include serious errors.

Israel’s treatment of Palestinian athletes and footballers has led for Israel to be kicked out of Fifa.

The calls for Israel’s removal grew louder after two Palestinian footballers were reportedly shot in the feet at an Israeli checkpoint, preventing them from ever playing football again.

Israel has most definitely not been kicked out of world soccer’s governing body although there are currently calls for Israel’s expulsion from international competitions. Most likely this error is simply one that occurred during the editing process.

The claim that two Palestinian footballers were reportedly shot in the feet at an Israeli checkpoint, is, however, utterly false. The lies have been comprehensively debunked on the Elder of Ziyon blog and should no longer be deemed credible by the mainstream media.

Virtually all exports from Gaza are currently banned and most of the territory’s 1.7 million people are not allowed to travel abroad.

This is patently untrue. Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) states:

The export of all products has been approved for sale abroad. Since the beginning of 2012 through July 2013, over 842 tons of fruits, vegetables and spices were exported abroad from Gaza through Israel. Additionally, more than 12.2 million flowers have been exported from Gaza abroad during this period.

This certainly doesn’t sound like most exports are banned.

As for the claim that most of Gaza’s population are not allowed to travel abroad, it is true that Israel, for understandable security reasons, does not permit Gazans to fly out of Ben-Gurion Airport. However, Israel is not responsible for the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Here, the Egyptian government has implemented restrictions on Palestinian movement through the crossing that previously allowed Palestinians to travel abroad via Egypt.

Sometimes, producing news stories is treated like a sprint rather than a marathon. It’s time that some media outlets took the time to exercise due care and attention to the facts when it comes to reporting on Israel.

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