March 3, 2008
Gaza: UK Media Reacts Against Israel
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Dear HonestReporting UK Subscriber,
The past few days of Israeli counter-terror operations in the Gaza Strip were bound to create a media frenzy and the UK press doesn't disappoint. HonestReporting has already released a Special Report explaining the context behind Israel's actions and offering talking points to use in responses to media bias. We strongly recommend reading this report to help you counter some of the anti-Israel reaction that appears in today's press.
Click here to view Special Report
Here, HR UK points out some of the worst examples:
The Guardian devotes a great deal of column inches to the Gaza story. Paying lip-service to what it terms "makeshift rockets," the paper completely avoids addressing the sheer number of missiles fired at southern Israel from Gaza or the suffering of the Israeli civilian population that has been under constant bombardment for the past several years.
To compound this, The Guardian notes the following, buried in one of its articles: "it [Hamas] has begun to launch a larger make of rockets with a longer range, enough to reach the Israeli city of Ashkelon, 11 miles away." Why has The Guardian failed to impress upon its readership the serious escalation that GRAD-type Katyusha missiles fired at a city of over 100,000 residents represents?
The 122 mm GRAD rockets are a type of standard military artillery weapon produced in the former Soviet bloc and by other states deploying non-Western arms. It is manufactured to military standards, by a conventional arms industry, and is equipped with a weapons-grade high explosive fragmentation warhead.
The Guardian then gives Azzam Tamimi op-ed space. Tamimi, an open supporter of Hamas and "martyrdom" deliberately downplays the Hamas rocket threat: "He [Olmert] might have been encouraged by the fact that, unlike Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas has no immediate regional backers and is less capable of confronting his troops. The rockets fired from Gaza are nothing compared with the missiles Hizbullah used in July 2006."
In fact, GRADS are also known as Katyushas - the same type of weapon fired at northern Israel by Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon War, possessing the same lethal capabilities. While denied by Tamimi, Hamas does have regional backers in the form of Iran and Syria, who have assisted the terrorist organisation to smuggle such upgraded weaponry into Gaza during the recent Egyptian border breach.
The Independent disgracefully and inaccurately compares Israeli operations with Serbian actions in Kosovo a decade ago that deliberately targeted civilians in what many defined as "ethnic cleansing".
In a fit of moral relativism and simplicity, the paper reduces the Gaza situation to one of mere statistics: "between 54 and 61 killed on the Palestinian side in a single day. On the other side, two dead, both soldiers. Can this be termed a fight?" The editorial continues with the extremely serious charge: "it might be thought Saturday's events in Gaza deserved to be termed a massacre."
Civilian casualties on any side of a conflict are tragic. Many headlines have concentrated on the high death toll of Palestinians during the fighting, which, sadly, has included a number of civilians. However, casualty statistics only tell part of the story:
Israel never intentionally targets civilians whereas Palestinian terrorists deliberately set out to kill innocents, celebrating hits against schools and kindergartens.
The vast majority of Palestinians killed during Israeli military operations were armed terrorists or those directly involved in firing missiles into Israeli towns and cities.
Hamas has exposed the Palestinian civilian population to risk by operating within and firing missiles from built-up areas, effectively using civilians as human shields.
The Sky News website demonstrates carelessness with language, stating that "Palestinian activists were killed in raids". The gross stupidity of this approach is aptly demonstrated on the same site's story of anti-EU protestors, also termed as "activists", climbing a crane above Parliament Square. Are these protestors really comparable with armed gunmen or rocket firing squads?
It is left to Con Coughlin, writing in The Daily Telegraph, to inject some common sense and context to the situation:
Unlike Hamas militants, who rejoice at the death of any Israeli, irrespective of whether they are civilian or military, ordinary Israelis feel much anguish over the loss of innocent Palestinian lives, as happened during the weekend's Israeli rocket attacks on suspected Hamas strongholds....
When Israel undertook its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, in the summer of 2005, the overwhelming majority of Israelis were glad to see the back of the place, grateful that their sons and daughters would no longer have to endure the brutalising experience of being an army of occupation, and they have no desire to return.
But the increasing effectiveness and improved technological capability of the rockets at Hamas's disposal has left the Israelis with no option but to intervene militarily, albeit from the safety of their helicopter gunships.
Please read HonestReporting's Special Report for more talking points and respond to the above and other examples of skewed reporting of the Gaza conflict.
Send your considered comments to:
The Guardian - email@example.com
The Independent - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sky News - email@example.com
Click here for a detailed list of UK media contact details on HR UK's website.
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