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Update – 26 February 2008

Dear Advocates,

The Australian features an article today entitled ‘Gazans rally in human chain’ (online: ‘Israel braces for Gaza protest’) by Martin Chulov, reporting on the supposed 40,000 Gazans that marched to the border between Gaza and Israel to protest Israel’s blockade of Gaza. It appears as if Chulov’s article may have been filed before the event, with Haaretz reporting that despite the large numbers expected, only 5,000 people, “many of them schoolchildrenand university students” turned up. The difference in numbers seems staggering and one wonders whether the Gazan population is really as supportive of this Hamas initiative as some would have us believe.

Before the march, Israel vowed to defend its borders. In an article in Haaretz entitled ‘IDF touse “all means” to stop Gazans breaching border during mass march’, Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated, “Israel does not intervene in demonstrations inside the Gaza Strip, but it will defend its territory and will prevent a breach of its sovereign borders”.For some talking points from MFA, click here.

Fortunately, the rally appears to have been fairly peaceful. Nevertheless, what is troublesome is the fact that Hamas was ferrying women and children to the border. This article ‘Gaza protest of Israeli blockade yields disappointing turnout’ states that “Palestinian journalists said Sunday that Hamas is likely to bring school children to Erez and other potential sites of friction, who will be sent near the crossings to throw stones, as the cameras are rolling.”

Unfortunately, as JPost states, “while television cameras and telephoto lenses were pointed westward to capture the Gaza protest” Kassam rockets were again fired into Israel, severely injuring a ten year old boy. To read more, click here. The Prime Minister’s Office sent out a strong warning that “those striking at Israeli children will find themselves dealing with an Israel compelled to defend itself.”

While parts of the media continue on an almost daily basis to condemn Israel and place virtually the entire blame for conditions in Gaza, rockets continue to rain down on the civilians of Sderot relentlessly. For more information, please read this very important Executive Summary from the Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre entitled ‘Rockets from Gaza: Facts and Figures’.

The Australian Jewish News gave The Age Middle East Correspondent Ed O’Loughlin a voice this week with his column entitled ‘My Israel Reporting Explained’. The reasons given for publishing O’Loughlin’s “explanation” can be found here. Without wishing to break down O’Loughlin’s piece claim by claim at this stage, it is noteworthy that he did not file a story on accusations by Human Rights Watch of Hezbollah’s war crimes during the 2006 war because he was “on another assignment in Gaza at the time of its release”. One wonders whether it’s coincidental or whether this journalist is constantly “on another assignment” when it comes to reporting fully and fairly on events from the region.

In other news, following on from Israel’s decision to boycott the next World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia, Human Rights activist Anne Bayefskyasks why the U.S has not yet distanced itself from the conference. Click here to read more.

Best wishes,

Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
State Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507