The Guardian’s Week in Gaza

guardian2006The Guardian’s “A week in Gaza” – a series of articles, videos and photos on life in Gaza is published in the coming days, beginning on Monday. But a closer examination of the first report reveals problems right from the start.

  • A fisherman’s tale – lacking context:

The first in The Guardian’s series of reports focuses on the difficulties faced by Gaza’s fishermen in the face of limited fuel supplies and an Israeli naval blockade. Despite continuing terrorism emanating from the Gaza Strip, the naval blockade is is presented as a punitive Israeli measure for Hamas’s control over Gaza, not a response to Hamas terrorism.

navysmugglingThe Guardian’s reporter fails to give the real context behind the Israeli navy’s measures. For, as an aide to former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh recently admitted, Iranian-made Grad rockets are smuggled into Gaza across the Mediterranean Sea.

As The Jerusalem Post reported, Iran uses floatable devices that it drops near the waters off the Gaza coast to be picked up by Palestinian fisherman.

“They throw the weapons overboard in waterproof, sealed tubes which then float into the Gaza waters and are picked up by fishermen,” one official said. “Sometimes Navy boats intercept them and sometimes they get through.”

  • Playing the numbers game:

There is no simpler way of portraying Israeli military actions as “disproportionate” or presenting Palestinians as the victims of Israeli power than quoting casualty statistics without putting them into proper context. As part of an interview with UN official John Ging, The Guardian states:

Attacks by militants in Gaza have killed five Israeli civilians and five soldiers this year. Israeli military attacks on Gaza this year have killed at least 312 Palestinians, of whom 197 were unarmed civilians, including at least 44 children, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

While the death of any non-combatant civilian is tragic, the Guardian’s focus exclusively on the number of casualties creates an inherently skewed picture of the situation. It ignores the intention of the actions that led to the casualties: Palestinian terrorists intend to kill as many civilians as possible and the IDF intends to protect its citizens. The only reason the Israeli casualty figure is not higher is simply down to sheer luck.

For example, The Guardian (and most other media) fails to mention how a Qassam missile exploded next to a school bus carrying children only the day before in the latest Palestinian rocket barrage.

  • Hamas stealing fuel:

What The Guardian also fails to mention is the role of Hamas in actively promoting an artificial humanitarian crisis in order to put international pressure on Israel. Recent media reports indicate that not only is Hamas depriving the civilian population, it is also allocating the supplies for its own use:

A Jerusalem Post report, on 29 April, states that Hamas stole 60,000 litres of fuel from the civilian population of Gaza. This was confirmed by the head of the Palestinian Authority’s gas agency, who added that Hamas gunmen had raided the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, stealing at least 60,000 litres of fuel meant for the Gaza power station, for use in their own vehicles.

The Independent reported on 24 April on the artificial crisis caused by Hamas, which even caused the UN to suspend food aid to 650,000 refugees in the Gaza Strip after running out of fuel for its delivery vehicles. An emergency tanker sent to the Nahal Oz terminal to collect fuel was turned back by demonstrators, and was forced to return empty.  The EU condemned Hamas actions which lead to further suffering of the Palestinian population.

On 24 April, the Presidency of the EU stated that Hamas activities were obstructing and even preventing humanitarian work by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Please continue to keep an eye on The Guardian’s “A week in Gaza” series throughout this week and send your considered comments to letters@guardian.co.uk.

BOWEN’S BIRTHDAY GIFT TO ISRAEL

jeremybowensmallHonestReporting’s international site has thoroughly critiqued Jeremy Bowen’s BBC documentary “The Birth of Israel”, which can now be seen in six parts on YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Full of omissions and historical revisionism, Bowen either downplays, delegitimises or altogether ignores the legitimate roots of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel going back three millennia. Instead, the Arabs are painted as victims of Jewish power and malevolence.

Please watch this programme, use HonestReporting’s detailed critique, judge for yourself and send your considered comments to the BBC Complaints website, making sure to include the programme information (broadcast on BBC Two, May 4, 2008).

HARI SEEKS TO SMEAR HONESTREPORTING

johannhari2HonestReporting UK critiqued Johann Hari’s op-ed in the Independent, systematically exposing the many distortions, omissions and Hari’s reliance on fringe revisionist sources and individuals. We even caught Hari employing a quote that he had previously been warned was false. Despite this, he has responded not by addressing the issues raised but by attacking us:

In the US and Britain, there is a campaign to smear anybody who tries to describe the plight of the Palestinian people. It is an attempt to intimidate and silence – and to a large degree, it works….

There was little attempt to dispute the facts I offered. Instead, some of the most high profile “pro-Israel” writers and media monitoring groups – including Honest Reporting and Camera – said I am an anti-Jewish bigot akin to Joseph Goebbels and Mahmoud Ahmadinejadh, while Melanie Phillips even linked the stabbing of two Jewish people in North London to articles like mine. Vast numbers of e-mails came flooding in calling for me to be sacked.

We at HonestReporting UK are not so na?ve to believe that Israel is infallible and immune from legitimate criticism. However, Hari’s one-sided reliance upon fringe, revisionist sources and individuals deserves to be exposed along with his use of a falsified quotation to back his case.

Hari’s piece was one-sided and journalistically suspect – HonestReporting UK and our subscribers had every right to respond. Charging us with “McCarthyism” is merely a means to silence those who disagree with his own views.

We will continue to help you, our subscribers, to write considered letters to media outlets using the materials we provide, despite this latest attempt to delegitimise ours and your right to do so.

Rather than shutting down free speech as Hari would have you believe, we encourage you to contribute positively to the debate. Please make your views heard by sending e-mails to The Independent – letters@independent.co.uk and posting to the comments section of Hari’s op-ed.

Read our full response at HonestReporting’s latest communique.

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