Monday, August 18, 2014

Has the West made the next Gaza war inevitable?

Hamas’s greatest strategic asset is that large segments of the press, political class, NGO community as well as the UN will effectively side with them. That makes the next war all the more likely, and encourages more Hamas-inspired carnage
Trevor Norwitz 17 August 2014  
Ban Ki Moon is right to say that, “children killed in their sleep . . “. is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame.” No-one can be unmoved by the pictures out of Gaza: the loss of life, the carnage, the anguish and fear in the faces of women and children.
It is heart breaking. But he is wrong to blame Israel, especially in such injudicious terms. He, and many others in positions of power and influence, do a terrible disservice to humanity, to the cause of international peace and security, and to the Palestinian people (not to mention the Israeli people), by not stating unequivocally what they know to be the truth: that overwhelming responsibility for the mayhem in Gaza rests with Hamas (a part of the Palestinian national unity government).
Yes, alongside their broadsides at Israel, these leaders also sometimes note that Hamas commits war crimes and angrily “denounce” that behavior. But angrily denouncing Hamas is as useless as angrily denouncing cancer, if you are not also willing to apply the treatment that is necessary, and to address the environmental factors that feed it and encourage its growth.
Hamas’ role in Gaza’s suffering is manifest. They started this war, and prolonged it by refusing to agree to and then cynically violating cease-fires. This is a war Hamas wanted, planned and prepared for meticulously for years, diverting much of the productive capacity of Gaza towards building their sophisticated network of tunnels to kidnap and kill Israelis, and stockpiling tens of thousands of rockets to terrorize Israeli population centers.
All but the willfully blind know they use human shields, hide rockets in, and launch them near, schools, mosques, UN facilities and other civilian buildings, turn hospitals into command centers, and booby-trap homes and refugee centers.
Their lawlessness is simply a given. World leaders like Ban Ki Moon, Laurent Fabius and John Kerry rebuke them but expect nothing of them, placing all responsibility for avoiding civilian casualties – the very casualties Hamas aims to maximize – on Israel, as it battles to defend its citizens from aerial and subterranean terror attacks.
There is no point in just denouncing Hamas.  It is a terrorist organization which exists for an evil purpose – to eliminate a nation and exterminate a people – and openly embraces cruel and illegal tactics. Its members are not swayed by criticism. They do not respect life, human rights or the concept of truth. Just as one cannot reason or negotiate with cancer, one has to treat a terrorist threat directly and aggressively and eliminate or reduce the conditions that stimulate its growth.
So what are the conditions that feed and encourage Hamas and its ilk?  Having an ally like Iran to provide a steady flow of rockets and other weapons is necessary but not sufficient.
Their greatest strategic asset is the knowledge that, however outrageous their behavior, large segments of the press and political class (especially in Europe), and the “human rights” and international communities led by the United Nations will effectively side with them, directing their wrath primarily at Israel, and protecting them from total defeat, so that they can proclaim victory from the ruin and devastation they authored.
Hamas knows that, despite the consistent evidence of their mendacity, their fabrications will be widely disseminated as facts by news and human rights groups. These lies inflict enormous damage on Israel even when the truth later emerges. Any honest observer appreciates that the Israel Defense Forces exert greater efforts to minimize civilian casualties than any army in history, and actually have a civilian-to-fighter casualty ratio that is relatively low for modern warfare (despite the fact that Hamas designs its chosen battlefield specifically to maximize civilian damage).
But Hamas knows that the press will gleefully play the body-count game, as though its infographics speak to causation or moral culpability. They also know that every conflagration they provoke causes the world’s oldest hatred to bubble up again, more virulently each time. 
When Kenneth Roth, head of Human Rights Watch (HRW), arguably the world’s most powerful human rights organization, tweets that, “Tunnels used to attack or capture soldiers isn't [a human rights violation],” Hamas is encouraged to dig more tunnels.
When MP David Ward says that he would fire a rocket if he lived in Gaza, Hamas is urged to fire more rockets.When Business Secretary Vince Cable decides to suspend UK arms export licences to Israel when Hamas violates cease-fires and Israel retaliates, Hamas is incentivized to violate cease-fires.
When Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director declares it, “abhorrent that Israeli forces are . .blatantly violating the laws of war" (based solely on interviews with Gaza residents), when the United Nations Human Rights Commission orders yet another lopsided anti-Israel “fact-finding” mission, and its High Commissioner Navi Pillay offers platitudes of moral equivalence accusing “both sides” of “indiscriminate killing of civilians,” when empty-headed celebrities blabber incoherently about Israeli “massacres” and “genocide,” then Hamas knows that its diabolical tactics are working.
The blood of those Palestinian children (and Israel’s children) is on the hands of those who irresponsibly, even if unwittingly, give Hamas such support, hope and inspiration.
Israel must, and surely will, investigate those tragic incidents where civilians were killed, and take appropriate action to ensure that its rules of engagement are legal, moral, and complied with.
Hamas will do nothing in respect of its myriad flagrant war crimes, except plan to repeat them.  If only the international community held Hamas and its brethren accountable for their heinous crimes, this ongoing nightmare for Gaza could be stopped, but sadly it will not.
This war in Gaza was inevitable, just like the coming one in Lebanon, which will take place when the terrorists of Hezbollah – or their Iranian puppet-masters – find it opportune to unleash their rocket stockpile at Israeli cities again.
(Since Israel is not able to limit the flow of weapons to them – the only reason for the much maligned blockade of Gaza – Hezbollah’s arsenal is presumably far more potent than that of Hamas.)
In both cases that inevitability is the result of the abject failure of the international community – principally the United Nations and its affiliated organs – to live up to their obligations.
Not only did they prevent Israel from completing the jobs they all knew had to be done, not only did they fail to disarm Hezbollah, not only did they refuse to hold Hamas and Hezbollah accountable for the carnage they caused their respective civilian populations last time, but they and the press and “human rights” community have affirmatively encouraged those terrorist organizations by their consistent excoriation of Israel.They are repeating their past mistakes, making the next Gaza nightmare inevitable as well. 
Secretary General Moon was quite right to say “the world stands disgraced.”  But by not accurately pointing to the source of that disgrace, he is only adding to it.

Trevor Norwitz is a lawyer in New York, teaches at Columbia Law School, and is a board member of Advancing Human Rights

Sunday, August 17, 2014

‘There is no “Palestine” in the Koran. Allah gave Israel to the Jews’

Posted on 8/15/2014 by Eliyokim Cohen

Sheikh Ahmad Adwan, who introduces himself as a Muslim scholar who lives in Jordan, said on his personal Facebook page that there is no such thing as “Palestine” in the Koran. Allah has assigned the Holy Land to the Children of Israel until the Day of Judgment (Koran, Sura 5 – “The Sura of the Table”, Verse 21), and “We made the Children of Israel the inheritors (of the land)” (Koran, Sura 26 – “The Sura of the Poets”, Verse 59).

“I say to those who distort their Lord’s book, the Koran: From where did you bring the name Palestine, you liars, you accursed, when Allah has already named it “The Holy Land” and bequeathed it to the Children of Israel until the Day of Judgment. There is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in the Koran. Your demand for the Land of Israel is a falsehood and it constitutes an attack on the Koran, on the Jews and their land. Therefore you won’t succeed, and Allah will fail you and humiliate you, because Allah is the one who will protect them (i.e. the Jews).”

The sheikh added: “The Palestinians are the killers of children, the elderly and women. They attack the Jews and then they use those (children, the elderly and women) as human shields and hide behind them, without mercy for their children as if they weren’t their own children, in order to tell the public opinion that the Jews intended to kill them. This is exactly what I saw with my own two eyes in the 70’s, when they attacked the Jordanian army, which sheltered and protected them. Instead of thanking it (the Jordanian army), they brought their children forward to (face) the Jordanian army, in order to make the world believe that the army kills their children. This is their habit and custom, their viciousness, their having hearts of stones towards their children, and their lying to public opinion, in order to get its support.”

It is worth mentioning, that the above mentioned sheikh visited Israel and met Jewish religious scholars. The “Israel in Arabic” site conducted an interview with him, in which he said that the reason for his openness towards the Jewish people “comes from my acknowledgment of their sovereignty on their land and my belief in the Koran, which told us and emphasized this in many places, like His (Allah’s) saying ”Oh People (i.e the Children of Israel), enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned unto you” (Koran, Sura 5 – “The Sura of the Table”, Verse 21), and His saying “We made the Children of Israel the inheritors (of the land)” (Koran, Sura 26 – “The Sura of the Poets”, Verse 59) and many other verses.

He (Adwan) added: “(The Jews) are peaceful people who love peace, who are not hostile and are not aggressors, but if they are attacked, they defend themselves while causing as little damage to the attackers as possible. It is an honor for them that Allah has chosen them over the worlds – meaning over the people and the Jinns until the Day of Judgment. I made the reasons for Allah’s choice clear in my books and pamphlets. When Allah chose them, He didn’t do so out of politeness, and He wasn’t unjust other peoples, it is just that they (the Jews) deserved this.”

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gazans must get rid of Hamas -Palestinian view

We Palestinians can no longer deny our responsibility for the death of our own people.

Bassem Eid 08.12.14 (described as a Palestinian from East Jerusalem)

 For 26 years I have been devoting my life to the mission of defending human rights. I have seen wars and terror. And yet, the past month has been one of the most difficult times in my life.
I live in East Jerusalem and witness the destruction of life around me. Highway 1 has once again turned into the line separating between east and west. The Palestinians in the capital attacked traffic lights and damaged the Light Rail and power supply lines. But I cannot accept that as a social protest – it's pure vindictiveness.

The coexistence I have been fighting for my entire life has been executed in the city square.

There is no doubt that the death and destruction Gaza has been hit by are like a tsunami. Both people are in pain, but each side denies the other side's pain, and so the pain gets worse.

And still, as a Palestinian, I must admit: I am responsible for part of what has happened. We can no longer deny our responsibility for the death of our own people.

Most of the Palestinians were against the rocket fire on Israel. They realized that the rockets would not give us anything. They called on Hamas to stop firing, knowing that it had paved the way for the death of its own people.

We knew that Hamas was digging the tunnels which would to lead to our destruction. We knew that three people live on every square meter in Gaza. And Hamas knew that an attack on Israel would lead to mass death, but it's leaders are more interested in their own victories than in the lives of their victims.

Indeed, Hamas depends on death, which gives it power and allows it to raise funds and purchase weapons. Hamas has never been interested in liberating the Palestinian people from the occupation. And Israel will never be able to destroy the infrastructures it has built. Only we, the Palestinian people, can do that.

It was the Gazan residents' responsibility to rebel against the Hamas rule. We knew what they were doing to us, but we let ourselves off easy and allowed it to happen.

Will all this death finally teach us a lesson? I hope so. The lesson is that we must get rid of Hamas and completely demilitarize Gaza. And then open the crossings.

I'm saying this as a loyal Palestinian. I'm saying this because I am concerned about my people's future.

Time to Expose the Lie that is UNRWA

Former member of Israeli Knesset Dr. Einat Wilf says that instead of helping to solve the "Palestinian refugee problem", UNRWA helps to perpetuate it.

Former MK Dr. Einat Wilf said on Tuesday that it was time to expose the lie behind UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees.

“UNRWA is advertised as the UN's humanitarian agency, the educational institutions of the neutral United Nations are mentioned, but in practice this is a Palestinian agency thinly covered by the United Nations, which is entirely dedicated to the perpetuation of the refugee problem,” Wilf, who served as an MK for the Labor and Atzmaut parties, told Arutz Sheva.

“The UN Convention placed the treatment of Arab refugees on a special agency, UNRWA, but instead of trying to deal with the refugees and resettle them, UNRWA refuses to settle them in places where they were born - in Gaza, Ramallah and Jordan - and instead leaves them asrefugees in refugee camps,” she continued.

“Every descendant of the original refugee is registered as a refugee, even though he was born in Gaza, and that is why there are currently five million refugees registered with UNRWA. Had UNRWA done its job, there would be zero refugees now, they all would be living in homes of their own,” Wilf said.

She called on the international community to stop funding UNRWA, saying, “The Palestinian tragedy is that, instead of dismantling the refugee camps and setting up regular neighborhoods, they are left as refugees with the hopes of returning to Israel.”

“It’s time to expose the lie and for Western countries to stop funding UNRWA,” said Wilf. “The United States gives them $250 million a year, and Australia, Japan and the European Union provide about a billion dollars a year. They just do not realize that their support for UNRWA willensure that there will never be a two-state solution, because the Palestinians will continue to receive legitimization of the right of return.”

UNRWA was embroiled in the recent fighting in Gaza, as Hamas was using the agency’s schools as storage sites for its rockets. Three stockpiles of rockets were discovered in UN schools during Operation Protective Edge.

After the first finding of rockets at an UNRWA school, it was reported that rather than destroying the rockets, UNRWA workers called Hamas to come remove them.

In addition, Israel was blamed several times for shelling UNRWA schoolsthat were used as shelters. In at least one case, Israel provided evidence that rockets were being fired in the vicinity of the school.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Myth of an Israeli Siege on Gaza

There is no Israeli "siege" on the Gaza Strip. First of all, Gaza shares borders not only with Israel, but with Egypt as well. There is a 13 kilometer (8 mile) frontier between Gaza and Egypt. That country, and not Israel, controls the Rafah crossing into Gaza which has been used primarily by people travelling to and from Egypt, and from there to the rest of the world.

Most importantly, for the past four years all goods are allowed to enter Gaza from Israel, except for weapons and a short list of dual-use items which can be exploited by terrorists. The ban on weapons and the restrictions on dual-use items stem from the fact that since 2007, Gaza has been ruled by a terrorist organization, namely Hamas, whose declared aim is the destruction of Israel. They are in place solely to protect Israel's citizens from Hamas' ongoing terrorist attacks.

Not only do food, medicine, fuel and aid enter freely at all times, but in peacetime, commodities and consumer goods of every type are transferred daily from Israel to Gaza through the land crossing. The types and amounts of consumer goods are determined by Palestinian merchants and depend primarily on market forces in Gaza. For the more affluent, Gaza offers a variety of consumer opportunities, from a modestly-sized mall to upscale restaurants. Even during the latest hostilities in Gaza, an international journalist reported on shopping at one of Gaza's supermarkets, which offered "all kinds of goods." 

Given the free entry of almost all goods, it is impossible to legitimately claim that the Gaza Strip is under siege. For example, in the first five months of 2014, over 18,000 trucks carrying nearly 228,000 tons of supplies entered Gaza. Included in the deliveries were construction materials: since January, over 4,680 trucks carrying 181,000 tons of cement, wood, gravel, iron and other building supplies passed through the Kerem Shalom land crossing into Gaza.

In addition to facilitating the transfer of goods, humanitarian aid and fuels, Israel also supplies the Gaza Strip with 10 million cubic meters (2.6 billion US gallons) of water annually and more than half of its electricity.

While Israel faces a serious threat from terrorists in Gaza, it still allows the supervised movement of people into Israel. In the first five months of 2014, approximately 60,000 individuals entered Israel from the Gaza Strip. Many of these were patients and their escorts who received medical treatment in Israel and elsewhere, while large numbers of Gazan businessmen and merchants also visited Israel.  

In light of all these facts, not only is it obvious that there is no siege on Gaza, but it is also not reasonable to say that as a whole the Gaza Strip is under an Israeli blockade.

Anti-Israeli activists often cite the maritime blockade as proof of a general blockade on Gaza itself, but that is deliberately misleading.

In modern times, Gaza has relied almost exclusively on land crossings for the import of goods: it has never had the type of port capable of handling shipping containers (and only had a functioning airport for approximately three years). 

The maritime blockade is legal under international law. In 2011, a special panel convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon examined the maritime blockade. The UN Panel found both the naval blockade and its enforcement, including in international waters, to be legal. This panel of experts emphasized that all assistance to Gaza should be transferred only through the designated land crossings.

The panel also found that Israel had legitimate security concerns regarding violence by Hamas and that weapons trafficking to Gaza permitted Israel to enforce a naval blockade. Repeated attempts to smuggle dangerous weapons via the sea - including powerful long-range rockets from Iran - attest to the fact that the maritime blockade is an essential security measure.

Indeed, the dangers posed by Hamas are well-documented. It is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization, including by the European Union, Australia, Japan, Egypt and the US.

The economic plight of the Gaza Strip does not stem from a mythical siege, but from its rule by a recognized terrorist organization dedicated not to the welfare of its people, but to violence and destruction. When Israel left Gaza in 2005, its aspiration was that the Gaza Strip would become a prosperous and peaceful territory. These hopes, and concrete plans for developing Gaza, were dashed by the incessant cross-border terrorist and rocket attacks, particularly after Hamas seized control in 2007.

Furthermore, Gaza's existing resources are systematically abused by Hamas for its own nefarious goals. Enormous amounts of money are used for procuring and producing weapons, training and funding terrorists, building terror infrastructures and for the enrichment of Hamas' leaders. Almost unimaginable quantities of cement were diverted from the construction of housing, schools and hospitals to building an underground city of terror tunnels and bunkers for Hamas members.

Hamas would like the world to believe that it launched its rockets at Israeli cities and towns in an attempt to "end the siege." It would like the international community to think it is acting in the interests of residents of Gaza. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

If Hamas cared about the welfare of the civilians in Gaza, it would not have started the current hostilities with its rocket barrages. It would have agreed to the Egyptian-proposed ceasefire already on 15 July (before the ground operation began), saving many lives on both sides. It would have respected the numerous humanitarian ceasefires Israel initiated for the benefit of the residents of Gaza. Most tellingly, it wouldn't have launched frequent rocket and mortar attacks on the Kerem Shalom border crossing, the main entry point into Gaza for goods and humanitarian aid.     

What Hamas truly cares about is advancing its agenda to destroy Israel. This terrorist organization seeks to end any control or supervision over what enters and exits Gaza so that it can freely import offensive weapons, including long-range rockets, explosives, military technologies, terrorist trainers, funds and supplies for its terrorist infrastructures. None of these things will help the residents of Gaza; rather, they will only serve to ignite future conflict. 

Hamas' media policy and treatment of journalists

During the operation, foreign and local correspondents followed Hamas’ policy guidelines, for the most part, and mainly reported on the suffering of the local population and other civilian aspects of the fighting.
Source: ITIC report

Hamas' media policy forged during Operation Protective Edge restricts local and foreign correspondents covering the fighting in their reports on military-combat activity or military-related information (especially regarding rocket fire and the use of civilians as human shields). During the operation, foreign and local correspondents followed Hamas' policy guidelines, for the most part, and mainly reported on the suffering of the local population and other civilian aspects of the fighting.

During the first days of Operation Protective Edge, Hamas established a policy for media reports to be implemented by local and foreign correspondents covering the fighting. Its objectives were to prevent reports that would prove Israel's claims of Hamas use of Gazan civilians as human shields, and to reinforce the propaganda theme that Israel deliberately attacked civilians and committed "war crimes." As a result, during the first days of the fighting the information bureau of the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior in Gaza issued instructions on how the social networks in the Gaza Strip were to report events (YouTube, July 10, 2014).

Instruction number five read, "Do not publicize [information about] and do not share pictures or video clips showing rocket launching sites or the movement of resistance [operatives] in Gaza." Those responsible for news pages on Facebook were told "don't use close-ups of heavily armed masked operatives, otherwise your Facebook page will be closed for incitement to violence."

Hamas issued similar instructions to correspondents in other ways. For example, the Palestinian Journalist Bloc, a media group in the Gaza Strip affiliated with Hamas,"
instructed the media and correspondents in the Gaza Strip not to photograph or publicize information about rockets fired by military-terrorist operatives belonging to the various organizations so as not to play into the hands of Israeli public diplomacy" (Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV, July 8, 2014).

The local and foreign media reports generally followed Hamas policy. They emphasized civilian suffering, the many civilian casualties and the increasing humanitarian distress, while severely criticizing Israel's conduct. On the other hand, reports of the military aspects of the fighting and the sensitive issue of the use of the civilian population as human shields received relatively scant coverage.

A foreign correspondent, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Yedioth Aharonoth's Daniel Batini (August 7, 2014) that :-

"First, Hamas said its spokesmen could only be interviewed in the courtyard of the Al-Shifa'a Hospital in Gaza City. That meant there were long lines of correspondents waiting for interviews, and as a result they watched the bleeding wounded arriving at the hospital for treatment. That [system] created exactly the impression Hamas wanted, of an immediate emergency situation and a human and humanitarian catastrophe. 

Second, Hamas never allowed foreign correspondents access to military sites attacked by Israel, whether they were bases, rocket launching sites or other targets. The organization's dead and wounded operatives were not photographed and therefore, from a media point of view, they do not exist. All that serves Hamas' objective of representing all the casualties as civilians. 

Third, it was obvious that Hamas was firing rockets from civilian areas, but Hamas operatives forbid camera teams from filming them, because they did not want to reveal the tactic or the locations of the launch sites." 

On August 11th Foreign Press Association in Israel protested Hamas methods.

The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.

The international media are not advocacy organisations and cannot be prevented from reporting by means of threats or pressure, thereby denying their readers and viewers an objective picture from the ground.

In several cases, foreign reporters working in Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media.

We are also aware that Hamas is trying to put in place a "vetting" procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists. Such a procedure is vehemently opposed by the FPA.

Monday, August 11, 2014

In the Service of Hamas

Cross posted from Adi Schwartz 6th August

Sitting in my living room for the last month and watching European and American TV coverage of the war between Hamas and Israel was a confusing experience. While sirens were going off in my residential suburb of Tel Aviv, signaling rockets coming in from Gaza, I never saw the Palestinians shooting them. In fact, I never saw on TV any armed men in Gaza, or their rifles or their launching pads – only epic scenes of rubble and destruction. And yes, lots of children and elderly women.
That’s a bit odd, given the fact that Palestinians launched some 3,000 rockets since the beginning of the war, killed more than 60 Israelis and wounded hundreds. But who shot the rockets? Who was killing Israeli soldiers? While we saw Israeli tanks maneuvering near the border, we never saw Palestinian combatants.

Foreign journalists who left Gaza this week admitted the obvious: Hamas controlled every image coming out of the Palestinian territory, not allowing photographers and reporters to document military activity, or even to show wounded Hamas men in hospitals. Adamant on winning a PR battle, the Palestinians used intimidation methods and would not allow any snapshot that could damage their image as harmless and defenseless victims.

Gabriele Barbati, an Italian reporter for the TV station TgCom24, tweeted upon leaving the Palestinian territory last week: “Out of Gaza, far from Hamas retaliation”. He then refuted the Palestinian version of an incident in which 10 children were killed on July 28th. According to Barbati’s own account, a misfired Hamas rocket – and not an Israeli bombing – was responsible for the killing, and Hamas militants “rushed and cleared debris”. While the Palestinian version that accused Israel for the killing was circulating in all major media outlets, Barbati’s account was not (in a phone conversation, he declined to elaborate on the “Hamas retaliation” he was fearing).

A Spanish journalist coming out of Gaza this week admitted in a private conversation that he saw Hamas fighters very close to the hotel where he, and many other foreign journalists, were staying. “If ever we dare pointing our camera on them,” he said, “they would simply shoot and kill us.” He refused to go on-the-record.

Another example of this overwhelming absence of realistic representation of what really went on in Gaza came from France, where the daily Libération published on July 24th a first-person account of a French-Palestinian journalist, who was intimidated by Hamas armed men and ordered to leave immediately the Palestinian territory. Of all places, his interrogation took place in a hospital, a few meters from the emergency room, affirming Israeli claims that Hamas uses hospitals and other civilian compounds. This account was taken off the French newspaper’s website a few days later, per the journalist’s request.

In 15 years of work as journalist in Israel, I met professional, honest and truth-seeking foreign reporters, who are doing their job in a difficult environment. However, many tend to hide the fact that their accounts are heavily flawed, since Hamas would not allow any other outcome. Others tend to bring with them their biases – personal, journalistic or ideological.

First, there is a basic fear for safety, working under a fundamentalist Islamic regime, which is stifling free speech. No difficult questions can be asked, and real investigative journalism is simply impossible. In the words of a senior journalist for one of Europe’s biggest newspapers, “what I can write from Tel Aviv I cannot do from Gaza”.

This can be especially true for women reporters, such as the Dutch TV journalist, Annet Röst, who told me how she was harassed in Gaza a few years ago by a large group of men. She was eventually saved by the Palestinian police.
But sometimes problems run even deeper, as the story of a Spanish correspondent in Israel, proves. Upon sending one of his stories to the newsroom, where the editor found it not sympathetic enough to the Palestinians, he was asked: “Why are you so objective?”

Consciously or not, some foreign journalists sympathize with the Palestinian side. For them, Israel is the oppressor and Hamas is the victim. With this post-colonial worldview, Israel is always at fault, and the Palestinians are always their victims, no matter what. The fact that Hamas does not recognize Israel in any border, and that its stated goal is to destroy the Jewish state, is never mentioned in their reports.

Despite many cases of misinformation in the past (such as reports of “massacres” on board the Marmara in 2010 and in Jenin in 2002), many international reporters still tend to air anti-Israeli accusations very quickly. While questioning every Israeli statement, they treat Palestinian communiqués as if they were the Bible. There is no possible way currently to know exactly how many of the Palestinian casualties are civilians, and still most reporters simply repeat Hamas’ official statements, that “most victims are women and children”. In previous cases this was proved to be wrong.

The bottom line is that what’s coming out of Gaza these days is not free press. What’s been shown is what Hamas wants the media to show – not how it operates from within residential areas, not how it stores weapons in mosques and clinics, and not the vast network of tunnels it built in order to attack Israel.

Gaza was indeed bombed by the Israeli army, and civilians were getting killed. But by not showing the true nature of Hamas’ war against Israel – with all its cowardice and cruelty – the context that could explain Israel’s actions was missing. That’s not only a disservice for Western viewers and readers, but a great service – intentional or not – for Hamas’ propaganda machine.