Sunday, July 02, 2006


More on Gaza

Scott Wilson, the Washington Post’s man-on-the-scene covering the Israeli – Palestinian conflicts, has got to become aware that words have meaning…especially when you’re reporting on a situation as visible as what is going on in Gaza right now Israel Strikes at Hamas Anew.

I recently commented on what I considered a rather amateurish bit of Scott Wilson reporting on the situation (Israel's measured response). Today’s article represents a better effort – meaning it contains no transcripts more suited to the Lifetime Channel than the ‘A’ Section of the Post. But he includes a passage that I think highlights much of the problems with the overall reporting of what’s happening in that part of the world:

“Although the Israeli government makes little distinction between the military and political wings of Hamas, the groups leaders say they are powerless over militia commanders, who last month broke a 15-month informal truce amid Israeli artillery shelling and airstrikes that killed more than a dozen Palestinian civilians.”

“…amid Israeli artillery shelling and airstrikes that killed more than a dozen Palestinian civilians.”? I’m guessing he’s referring to the mortar blasts of June 9th that killed numerous Palestinian beachgoers including most of one family. The footage of the young girl over her dead father was a staple of TV news. But since then, the Israelis have done a pretty good job of laying out the evidence showing that whatever blasts happened there weren’t of Israeli origin: lgf: Gaza Beach Bombing: Another Pallywood Hoax?

Of course, Mr. Wilson could just as easily wrote that the “15-month informal truce” was broken amid reports that “around 20 people have been killed in clashes between Hamas and Abbas loyalists in Gaza in the past month”. Hamas seeks cease-fire with Israel. 15/06/2006. ABC News Online

This information has been out there for some time now and it is simply inexcusable for someone of Mr. Wilson’s stature and with his access to information to blithely continue to throw out such context-less statements.  

Further, anyone reading that statement without knowing somewhat of the events leading up to the broken “truce” might think that Mr. Wilson was actually soft pedaling Israel’s culpability in the breakdown of the “truce”. After all, one can hardly blame Hamas for responding “amid Israeli artillery shelling and airstrikes that killed more than a dozen Palestinian civilians.”

Let’s review some pertinent facts (Hamas ends truce after Gaza attacks):

The explosion occurred near an area that Israel has been bombarding with artillery shells each day in a bid to frighten off militants who use the area to launch missiles at Israel.
Hamas' truce was not recognised by Israel. It was frequently broken by other factions, notably Islamic Jihad, which killed 10 people with a suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv two months ago. Since the Palestinian ceasefire was announced in March last year, 48 Israelis and at least 360 Palestinians have died in the conflict. The collapse of the ceasefire coincides with mounting tension between Hamas and the former ruling party, Fatah. Fatah's leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, will seek to hold a referendum on July 26 on the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.” (emphasis added)

The fact that perhaps it wasn’t Hamas throwing out the rocket attacks on Israel was probably of little comfort to the Israelis in the rockets’ paths. This is not to single out the Post; just about all major press outlets offhandedly throw out the terms of “Hamas” and “Fatah” without noting that they are not necessarily synonymous with the Palestinians. And when it is Palestinians who are attacking Israelis, party affiliation doesn’t make the attack any more or less severe.

We will, no doubt, continue to read about the trials and tribulations of a 'moderate' Abbas, the 'moderate' Fatah movement (Fun fact according to CNN: “Arafat co-founded the moderate Fatah Palestinian group in 1956”), and the peace seeking Hamas (note the headline and first line of this ABC story). And I will continue to react with a jaundiced eye toward such nonsense.

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