December 17, 2007
No Qassams, No Terror, No Responsibility?
The Guardian, favourite reading of the limp wristed and Islington Socialists, gives extensive coverage to an international Palestinian donor conference taking place in Paris. Undoubtedly, Palestinians are suffering under harsh economic conditions. Predictably, in the eyes of Ian Black, Israel bears the bulk of responsibility for this:
Crucially, though, there is little evidence so far of Israel's readiness to ease restrictions on the Palestinians, vital if efforts to boost their faltering economy are to be successful....
It was the failure to implement improvements on "movement and access" that scuppered the mission of James Wolfensohn, Blair's predecessor as Quartet envoy....
And things have got much worse since Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the takeover by the Islamist movement Hamas - and the continuing blockade.
In Ian Black's world there is no Hamas-supported Palestinian terror and no Qassams continuously raining down on Sderot and surrounding communities. No mention of the latest wave of Qassams, the latest of which hit a kibbutz house injuring a three-year-old boy. No mention of a new report that reveals that more than 190,000 Israelis are within range of Qassam-type rockets in the western Negev and that an estimated 2,380 rockets have landed in that area over the past six years, half of which landed in Sderot.
Is it surprising then that movement through Gaza's borders is restricted to vital supplies only? (Black also fails to mention that Egypt has also closed its border with Gaza for security reasons.) With the Palestinian Authority having demonstrated its inability to prevent the Hamas takeover in Gaza, it is unreasonable for Israel to take control of its own security in the West Bank until the PA proves capable of getting its house in order?
In similar fashion, the BBC's Jeremy Bowen on the Radio 4 Today programme (go to 18 minutes in to listen), also attributes sole responsibility for Palestinian hardship to Israel. According to Bowen, a major reason for the economic problems are:
because of measures Israel has imposed, which it says are vital to the security of its people, that put real difficulties in the way of Palestinians moving. It's impossible, pretty much, to get out of Gaza - it's often described by Palestinians as a prison and I think that's pretty accurate; and there are areas of the West Bank... which are not much better than that.
Describing movement restrictions on places such as Nablus, Bowen fails to mention that even the PA itself has recently attempted to crack down on armed terror groups within the city, a hotbed of terrorist activity.
Regarding Gaza, if Ian Black and Jeremy Bowen wished to show some balance, perhaps they could have presented the other side of the story, as put by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her way to the Paris conference:
The responsibility for what is happening in Gaza should be put directly on the shoulders of Hamas... It is the policies of Hamas that have led to its own isolation and by implication Gaza as well... There have been efforts to make certain that humanitarian assistance is getting through... Of course we're very concerned, but let's put the blame where it should be, and that's on Hamas.
While, of course, Israeli security measures have a negative impact on Palestinians, isn't it about time that The Guardian and BBC added some much-needed context to the story and stopped absolving Palestinians from all responsibility for the situation?
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