If you live outside of Israel and have been watching the news coming out of Gaza on your local TV stations, you may have been wondering how come the only pictures you have been seeing are of poor Gaza children wailing and crying, or sometimes gory pictures of dead children. You will also have seen many pictures of weeping women holding their children, and maybe a few scenes of old or handicapped Gazans scrabbling through rubbish to find a bite to eat, or just sitting shell-shocked on the side of the road.
The pictures are indeed heart-breaking. But they are only one very small part of the picture.
Have you not wondered where are the pictures of Hamas fighters? The terrorists creeping down their tunnels? The brave warriors executing their own people for “collaboration” (because they objected to Hamas using them as human shields or their homes as rocket launching pads).
An excellent article at Harry’s Place, (a British blog I think) by “Saul O.” asks 40 very pertinent questions of the international media covering the Gaza conflict. Here are just a few, but read them all:
1. Have you or any of your colleagues been intimidated by Hamas?
2. Do you feel restricted in your ability to ‘say what you see’ in Gaza?
3. How do you feel about the Spanish journalist who said Hamas would kill any journalist if they filmed rocket fire?
4. Has Hamas pressured you to delete anything you have published?
10. Have you published any photos of terrorists launching rockets in Gaza? If so, are these images being turned down by your newspaper or broadcaster?
11. Have you thought of interviewing the traumatised residents of southern Israel?
12. When Israeli authorities say that most of the dead in Gaza are terrorists, and Hamas says most of the dead in Gaza are civilians, how do you differentiate?
14. Is an underage armed terrorist still counted as a terrorist or a child when killed? Or both? Do you explain to your readers how this is possible?
18. Russia Today journalist Harry Fear mentioned rocket-launching sites near his hotel. Have you noticed any terrorists or terror bases near your hotel?
24. Hamas’ command and control bunker is underneath Al Shifa hospital. Is this worth reporting? Have you asked to gain access to it, so you can interview Hamas commanders?
The other questions are all in a similar vein, and are well-worth putting to your local newspapers or media outlets. It will be interesting to see what response you get – if any.
Following are several items which clearly demonstrate either the one-sidedness of the international media or demonstrate the extent of the intimidation with which the journalists must deal in order to both report on the situation and stay alive.
Legal Insurrection brings us the story (also reported in the Harry’s Place article) of an Italian journalist who only found it safe to report that it was Hamas’s misfired rockets that killed many civilians at an UNRWA camp after he left Gaza and was far from the terrorists’ retaliation:
The Professor also has a screenshot of a tweet by a Wall Street Journal reporter who deleted the tweet shortly afterwards, presumably due to Hamas intimidation:
The LI article has many more examples of intimidation, reports and tweets that were deleted, and a Twitter conversation between various journalists and bloggers about the lack of balance in the Gaza coverage. The Professor aptly comments:
Remember how many photos of Hamas fighters and scoops about Hamas tactics we’ve seen from reporters, just like we see with regard to the IDF? Neither do I, it’s as if Hamas doesn’t exist to reporters and all the dead are civilians:
Read the whole article. (Blood pressure warning).
The Elder of Ziyon brings us a similar story, this time of a Spanish reporter, who explained that Hamas threatened to kill anyone who reported about their rocket-fire from civilians neighbourhoods:
This post by Israeli media figure Michael Grynszpan helps explain why:
I met today with a Spanish journalist who just came back from Gaza. We talked about the situation there. He was very friendly. I asked him how comes we never see on television channels reporting from Gaza any Hamas people, no gunmen, no rocket launcher, no policemen.. We only see civilians on these reports, mostly women and children.
He answered me frankly: “It’s very simple, we did see Hamas people there launching rockets, they were close to our hotel, but if ever we dared pointing our camera on them they would simply shoot at us and kill us.”
Wooh, impressive. Then I asked him “would you mind saying that on camera? I can film you explaining this…”
For some reason I cannot really understand he refused and almost ran away. I guess my camera is as dangerous as Hamas threats…
So just for you to know, the truth will never appear on the images you see on television.
Via Israellycool (who credits Finland-based blog Tundra Tabloids) we find a Finnish journalist who did report on a Hamas rocket launch from a school – and then was angry at Israel for retweeting her tweet!
Here’s what she said in her angry response:
Don’t use me as your propaganda weapon
During the night someone launched a rocket somewhere behind the hospital. Now this sentence from my article is spreading in the pro-Israeli medias. I mentioned this in my article because I’m a professional journalist. I try to cover the events truthfully as I see them and I strongly condemn these kind of actions.
But I find it very disgusting how this one sentence was taken out context to be used as an excuse to target civilians in Gaza. My story became quickly a tool of propaganda. The people sharing this story are not even trying to understand the situation as a whole. They are just looking for excuses to Israeli actions in Gaza.
I refuse to be part of this kind of propaganda.
Well, my dear, I’m afraid you made yourself part of this propaganda by agreeing to Hamas’s terms. Or maybe she was a willing tool, as Israellycool remarks:
By posting this ugly screed, Zidan has confirmed something else: there are journalists deliberately skewering the truth and adopting the Hamas narrative.
Maybe she’s got a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome, despite coming from Finland, not Sweden.
And finally, here’s a Palestinian reporter almost frightened out of her wits by a nearby rocket launch:
As is now clear to anyone with eyes in their heads and willing to engage their brains, Hamas are intimidating journalists to present only one side of the story, the side that puts them in a good light (or keeps them invisible) while Israel, if it is shown at all, is depicted only by tanks, planes, soldiers and maybe a few Tel Aviv residents taking shelter in a stairwell during a rocket attack, and not looking particularly traumatized.
Elder of Ziyon accuses the media outlets of culpability in this misrepresentation, despite the intimidation by Hamas:
What can responsible media organizations do to counter the threats by Gaza terror groups?
If they were responsible, for every report from Gaza, the anchor introducing the segment should say:
“Our viewers should be aware that the Hamas leadership in Gaza and terror groups operating there threaten journalists both implicitly and explicitly. We care for the safety of our reporters and staff and are not requiring that their reports be as even-handed as we would like.”
They would also take pains to have their reporters in Gaza be replaced with new ones every week or so, and have the old ones go in front of the cameras and then report what they really saw, and how they were intimidated and manipulated.
Because without doing that, the media is losing what little trust they still have in their reporting.
Another option would be simply to refuse to report from Gaza until they are allowed free and unfettered, and unintimidated access. And certainly their viewers ought to be informed of the situation.
The JTA challenged the New York Times on their lack of pictures of Hamas fighters -and got a surprising response:
Here’s what Eileen Murphy, the Times’ vice president for corporate communications, says:
Our photo editor went through all of our pictures recently and out of many hundreds, she found 2 very distant poor quality images that were captioned Hamas fighters by our photographer on the ground. It is very difficult to identify Hamas because they don’t have uniforms or any visible insignia; our photographer hasn’t even seen anyone carrying a gun.
I would add that we would not withhold photos of Hamas militants. We eagerly pursue photographs from both sides of the conflict, but we are limited by what our photographers have access to.But here’s what I don’t get: With the hundreds of journalists there, including numerous photojournalists with experience covering bloody conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, Iraq and Afghanistan, how is it that they aren’t able to get any images of Palestinians fighting the Israelis? We know these images exist — unless you believe the Israel Defense Forces is fabricating its footage of Palestinian fighters using ambulances to transport rockets, firing from hospitals and mosques, and launching rockets at Israel.…
Here’s what Times photographer Sergey Ponomarev, who is in Gaza, recently told the paper’s Lens Blog about his routine covering the conflict:
You leave early in the morning to see the houses destroyed the night before. Then you go to funerals, then to the hospital because more injured people arrive, and in the evening you go back to see more destroyed houses.
It was the same thing every day, just switching between Rafah and Khan Younis.
Maybe it’s time to switch it up a little?
The Jerusalem Post covers this issue of intimidation of journalists when they write about Hamas’ use of human shields, amongst other subjects:
The international press in Gaza has hardly reported on how Hamas has operated in this round of fighting, and photos or video of Hamas fighters from recent weeks are rare.
The reason became apparent this week as several journalists reported being threatened and even expelled from Gaza for highlighting that the terrorist organization used civilian sites to attack Israel.
The French newspaper Liberation published an article last week which detailed how Hamas interrogated French-Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abu Dagga and threatened to throw him out of Gaza – all at Shifa. The article was later removed at Abu Dagga’s request.
They interrogated Abu Dagga and insisted that he worked for the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, even though he said he worked for French media and an Algerian radio station. He was instructed to immediately leave Gaza without his papers.
Pro-Palestinian activists and journalists, including Fadi Arouri from Al-Ayyam, reported on Wednesday that RT (formerly Russia Today) correspondent Harry Fear was told to leave Gaza after he tweeted that Hamas fired rockets into Israel from near his hotel.
In another tweet from last week, Fear called Al-Wafa Hospital “the hospital with human shields.”
These expulsions only work when Hamas allows journalists to leave Gaza. Last week, Huffington Post Middle East correspondent Sophia Jones tweeted: “The Israeli side of the border with Gaza was briefly open today, but Hamas did not let journalists leave Gaza.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said the Israeli government is aware of the phenomenon but does not know how widespread it is.
He said that, while he does not expect reporters to put themselves directly in the line of fire, danger “comes with the turf” for conflict reporters, and “it is inconceivable that there is zero visual footage of Hamas, as if they don’t exist.”
Bassam Tawil at the Gatestone Institute explains how the media is helping Hamas literally get away with murder in their biased reporting:
Of course, the Hamas spokesmen, to attract the attention of the media, pretend that they are visiting the wounded in the hospital, but in reality, these Hamas spokesmen have been staying inside the hospital, bearing in mind — even certain — that Israel would not target such a sensitive site.
What is disturbing is that foreign journalists did not bother (or dare) to ask any of the Hamas leaders and self-proclaimed spokesmen whether they were hiding inside the hospital, regardless of what the answer would doubtless be. They apparently did not even ask themselves this question. .
One foreign journalist explained that asking such a question would have “endangered my life.” Another admitted over coffee that he and his colleagues were too scared to report news that would anger Hamas and other radical groups.
“We know that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields,” the reporter, who asked not to be identified, said. “But why would you report this when you are sitting in the middle of the Gaza Strip, surrounded by Hamas gunmen?”
Besides the human shields story, there is another item that the international media also choose to ignore: the extrajudicial execution of Palestinian “collaborators” during the past two weeks.
Palestinian sources have confirmed that Hamas has executed at least 13 Palestinians on suspicion of “collaboration” with Israel. None of the suspects was brought to trial, and the executions were reportedly carried out in the most brutal manner, with torture that included severe beating and breaking arms and legs.
Foreign journalists working in the Gaza Strip have complied with Hamas’s demands and continue to avoid stories or photos that expose the Islamist movement’s cynical exploitation of innocent civilians during the war. The media has once again taken sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this one, it is the media that is helping Hamas get away with war crimes.
One more case of one-sided reporting: UNRWA says 250,000 Gazans are displaced. Excuse my hard-hearted cynicism, but while I’m sorry for them (just a little bit), I find it astonishing that no one has expressed any sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have been displaced by this war, and for the hundreds of thousands who do not have safe rooms or bomb shelters and are forced to sleep in stairwells, like in the picture to the left (h/t Mum).
And if anyone should complain that the poor Gazans have nowhere to go to because their homes have been destroyed, I have two responses:
- They shouldn’t have voted to let Hamas take power, and they should not have let Hamas shoot from their homes;
There are many Israeli homes and businesses that have been destroyed. A further great number of Israeli homes are uninhabitable for the foreseeable future until we can be certain that there are no more terror tunnels through which terrorists could pop up under people’s beds or in kibbutz dining rooms or children’s nurseries.
So cry me a river. Gaza’s residents made their stinking bed. Let them lie in it. I’ll reserve my sympathies for the real victims of this war, the invisible victims, the Israelis.