Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Israel vs. Hamas - Keep the record straight

As we move from TV news channel to channel and from newspaper to newspaper, it's quite noticeable that Israel’s military campaign in Gaza that began Saturday December 27, 2008 has triggered global coverage, some of it is fair and complete and some skewed and misleading.

Coverage began on a good footing and the New York Times' early coverage is a good example. To be expected, BBC has begun tilting the news.

According to CAMERA:

"As in the Hezbollah War of 2006, the story is quickly shifting in some coverage to questions of disproportionate use of force by Israel with focus on relative losses by the parties. CNN’s Rick Sanchez has gone awry in this regard, saying Monday that ”300 people have been killed there in Gaza, as a result of the 17 who have been killed by rocket fire in parts of southern Israel. Now, think about that as we go through the story...”"

It's important to remember context is essential for any news story. And the need to understand Israel's actions can only be had if one considers the earlier events that brought Israel to Gaza.

"1) Israel was motivated to act militarily after eight years of bombardment by Palestinians targeting civilian towns inside Israel – not just after the recent Dec 19th collapse of a cease fire and a week of rocket attacks. Since 2001, 3984 rockets and 3, 943 mortar shells have been launched at Israel. The aim of the intervention in Gaza is self-defense – to end the bombardments of Israel, not retaliation.
"2) Israel withdrew every man, woman and child from Gaza in 2005 (even removing the dead from their graves) in hopes of advancing peace, but instead Palestinian rocket fire dramatically intensified.
"3) Israel is targeting Hamas and, as even Palestinian sources note, a substantial majority of casualties in Gaza have been Hamas members.
"4) Hamas intentionally places its rocket launchers, rocket factories, rocket caches and general armories in civilian neighborhoods. When Israel accurately hits these targets, the missiles and bombs explode in all directions, putting Palestinian civilians at dire risk of injury or death. It seems likely that many if not most of the Palestinian civilian casualties in the present conflict have been caused by secondary explosions when these Palestinian missile and weapons caches are struck. Hamas bears total responsibility for any such resulting Palestinian civilian casualties.
"5) Hamas is sworn to the destruction of Israel and has used the cease-fire to arm itself.
"6) Israel has continued to provide humanitarian aid to Gazans before and during the strife."

Reporting on the news should be factual and contextual. When it's not, there is a price to be paid by the public whose impressions and opinions are formed without full consideration.

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