Fairfax and the current situation in Gaza

March 13, 2012 by Emily Gian
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Late on Friday afternoon, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) targeted two members of the Palestinian terrorist organization the Popular Resistance Committee in the Gaza Strip…writes Emily Gian.

Emily Gian

They were senior operative Zuhir Mussah Ahmed Kaisi and collaborator Mahmud Ahmed Mahmud Hananni and were responsible for planning a terrorist attack that was to take place via Sinai in the coming days (see more).

Since then, over 140 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip and have struck major population centres in southern Israel, placing more than 1,000,000 Israeli civilians in the line of fire and under the threat of a rocket attack. 

As Palestinian terror groups (including Hamas and the PRC) continue to fire rockets, the IDF is carrying out precise attacks with the distinct aim of eliminating those firing rockets and preventing subsequent attacks. Four people in Israel have been injured as a result.

In an AP article that appeared in yesterday’s online Age it was reported that “15 Palestinian militants” had been killed in the attack. The final line of the article stated that “Palestinian officials acknowledged that several of the dead were preparing to fire rockets”. This means that these officials agree with IDF statements that “the aerial strikes were surgical and precise, with no collateral damage to innocent bystanders” (see more). 

Given the revelation that the IDF was clearly targeting those who were attacking its civilians and doing so in contravention of international humanitarian law, I found it staggering to read an article in the same publication today penned by its Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard entitled  ‘New Gaza violence dogs Middle East talks’. Here, she notes the death toll which is now 17 but ignores the fact that almost all of those killed were terrorists or “militants” as AP prefers to call them. 

Whilst no one would deny that the loss of any innocent life is regrettable, and Pollard’s report that a 12-year-old boy was killed is indeed extremely sad, by omitting to characterise the majority of the dead as war criminals bent on murdering innocent civilians on the other side, her piece paints a false picture of what is happening in the current conflict.

Interestingly, Honest Reporting asks readers to keep an eye on the media in the coming days for the following issues: 
1.     Moral equivalence
2.     The “cycle of violence”
3.     Chronological inversion
4.     A ‘disproportionate response’. 

Pollard’s commits at least three of those four journalistic sins. The AP article of the day before does the rest. Pollard’s piece also contains several inaccuracies, which need to be cleared up.

Firstly, she mentions that al-Qaissi (spelt Kaisi in Israeli media) was one of the Palestinian prisoners freed as a part of the deal to release Gilad Shalit and that defence officials say “was a terrorist leader planning an attack on the Israel-Egypt border”. In fact Kaisi was not released as part of any exchange but rather he was one of the people that boasted about abducting Gilad Shalit in the first place. By making him one of those in the exchange, she is seeking to evoke sympathy from her readers.

What Pollard has failed to mention is that this man was among the leaders “who planned, funded and directed the combined terror attack that took place on Route 12 in August 2011”. Eight people were killed as a result of this attack and forty were injured. Additionally he was involved in an attack on the Nahal Oz fuel terminal in 2008 where two Israelis were killed and he was in charge of transferring funds from Hezbollah to facilitate more terror against Israel from the Gaza Strip (see more). Not exactly the boy scout that apologists for the Palestinian terror groups would like you to think he was. Moreover, he was planning a similar attack in the coming days.

Pollard dedicates a far amount of space to quoting the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights about the dire humanitarian conditions in Gaza, claiming that many people were too scared to leave their homes to go to work or school. 

Strangely, for this there is no moral equivalence and Pollard completely ignores the 1,000,000 Israelis who spent over 48 hours with 15 seconds to run for cover. These people are being directly targeted by the Palestinian terror groups whose activities are being shielded from her readers. The map below is of no interest to people like Pollard.

Pollard then goes on to quote Prime Minister Netanyahu and comments that “without providing any details on what led to the weekend airstrikes, Mr. Netanyahu said al-Qaissi was ‘in the midst of planning another attack that was directed at our southern border with Egypt’.” 

Pollard should know there is plenty of information out there about what Kaisi has done in the past and therefore what he was capable of doing in the future. If she did any research on him, there is no sign of it in the half a picture she paints for her readers.

Pollard then mentions the blockade again, without mentioning that despite the rocket barrage, the Kerem Shalom crossing was open for the delivery of 200 truckloads of goods from Israel into Gaza (see more).

Pollard is a lot more comfortable repeating the lie that Israel is completely isolating the Gaza Strip without providing any context to why certain goods are prohibited. She manages to concede, but only in brackets that “some are allowed to travel into Israel for medical treatment and the Rafa crossing into Egypt is open for limited travel”. This afterthought of a sentence provides critical information that Pollard would rather ignore completely. One, that the Israelis provide medical treatment for ailing Palestinians, and two, that the Rafa crossing is only open for a limited time, but again, no context provided as to why Palestinians cannot move freely between Gaza and Egypt. As for the material which the terrorists are firing at Israeli homes, schools and places of worship, Pollard is apparently not comfortable about connecting the dots between them and the reason for the Israeli embargo.

The Israeli press is now reporting that Egypt is trying to broker a cease-fire. One can only hope that it comes quickly and brings an end to the madness. In the meantime, I do not like your chances of reading about it fairly in our local press.

Emily Gian is the Israel Advocacy Analyst at the Zionist Council of Victoria and a PhD Candidate in Israeli Literature at the University of Melbourne


3 Responses to “Fairfax and the current situation in Gaza”
  1. Rita says:

    I give up if “testing” is the only post that gets through.


  2. Liat Nagar says:

    Yep, that’s the way of it. I despair almost, but am too angry internally to allow myself to succumb to it. I rang SBS television in Sydney for their report on this subject on World News last night. Not only was the film showed edited to make sure we had close-ups of distraught faces of head-scarved Gaza women but also the hiding, terrified child by a building and the tear-stained cheeks of another – this is not to say I am hardened to the plight of children: I am not. It’s what’s being done with the plight of children I’m objecting to, as well as the fact that we don’t get to see the plight of Israeli children and women. Oh, and the woman reporter for SBS on the ground towards the end of this report, she said, “It’s clear that what triggered this event is the Israeli killing of militants Kaisi and Hananni.’ Full stop. That’s it – no context, explaining the background of these two – clear and simple: implication? the carnage is Israel’s fault.
    Getting back to The Age, Ruth Pollard is more professional than her predecessor (an Age journalist with a Greek name I’ve currently forgotten, first name Jason) insofar as actual reporting is concerned because he hardly ventured out to report anything of substance and obviously couldn’t get his head around where he was, but unfortunately it seems she’s afflicted with the same belief in Arab mythology that prevails across the board.

    An active and aggressive body should be formed in this country, with direct ties to spokespeople in Israel, to cogently and specifically present the Israel reality and countermand every report that is unbalanced and tainted with unprofessional bias. This should be consistently unrelenting so that in the end what people receive and hopefully absorb, is that this now gives you a whole story to consider, not half a story, capped by a Palestinian given the last say (as per last night’s SBS report) and rubbing in the old adage of “we shall continue – Israel is an occupying force – we shall continue regardless’. Do the reporters, or the viewers and readers, care why there is an ‘occupying force’, why it’s necessary for Israel to enforce security measures? No … because there’s never a last word ringing out in regard to that, never even a mention. This is what has to change.

  3. Gabrielle says:

    I agree the reporting was completely superficial and totally biased. But the reporting on SBS TV and ABC radio national on Sunday and Monday nights were even worse.

    They said Israelis have launched an attack and killed: numbers started from 26, a day later dropped to 17 or 20.

    At the end of the segment some said that rockets have been fired into Israel but no numbers quoted or said scores of rockets. They did not say that the rockets were aimed at major towns in Israel.

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