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Media Misfires, Truth a Casualty

Last Tuesday evening (AEST), just hours before the latest ceasefire in the region was due to expire, terrorists in Gaza fired three Grad rockets which landed near Be’er Sheva and Netivot. Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said his organisation had no knowledge of the firing of any rockets – a claim that is incredibly hard to believe.

Hamas, ostensibly a member of Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestine Authority “unity government” is in control of Gaza. Whenever it wants to do so, Hamas is able to rein in the various terror factions and ensure they hold fire. In fact, it managed several days of the recent ceasefire without seeing any rockets fired at all.

Moreover, the fact that the three missiles were Grads, which have a longer range than most of the rockets fired from Gaza during the recent conflict is suggestive of Hamas’ involvement either directly or indirectly.

Israel responded with strikes on specific targets in Gaza.

The media in Australia the following morning responded to the resumption of fighting somewhat differently.

The Age online (Fairfax) carried the headline “Gaza ceasefire shattered as Israel retaliates”. This would normally be a rather strange way to headline the shattering of a ceasefire. After all, it was indisputable that the ceasefire was in fact broken by Palestinian terrorists firing rockets at civilian targets in southern Israel which is of course, a heinous war crime. But someone at the Age deemed it appropriate to misinform readers by ridiculously suggesting that Israeli retaliation to the firing of those rockets is what shattered the ceasefire as if its readers are so stupid as to fall for this now overused technique of deception.

The Age often uses articles from the New York Times and this telling critique from Forbes outlines the depth of the malevolence of some reporters towards Israel in that paper. Fancy, a journalist whose hero is Yasser Arafat, to report honestly on the news. The Age follows in step with this method of reporting.

But this is not a new phenomena and one recalls the Fairfax Middle East correspondent when the Second Palestinian Intifada was its peak in 2002 having his own acknowledged allegiances. That was at a time when suicide bombers were operating throughout Israel and the Age had an incredible penchant for penning  entire articles about the “cycle of violence” which was seemingly initiated and perpetuated by Israel. Occasionally, one would find a tiny footnote which might just provide some context: such as that it was all in response to some suicide bombing that killed 15 Israelis in downtown Jerusalem.

The year is now 2014 and nothing much has changed. The suicide bombers (who found it harder to enter Israel following the construction of its security barrier) have been replaced by rockets and Israeli fatalities have been lowered due mainly to the success of the Iron Dome; but it is still the same old story which is that it is not actually ever a story until Israel fights back.

With the advent of social media, it is a lot easier to highlight media failings. These days, a quick tweet or some deft work on Facebook can achieve results. Within a few hours the headline had changed to “Israel-Gaza ceasefire shattered as rockets fly”. Still not the truth but we have to be thankful for small victories.

Since the ceasefire ended, Hamas has fired over 400 more rockets aimed at Israeli civilians. In one attack yesterday, 4-year old Daniel Turgerman was killed by a mortar fired by terrorists in Gaza that landed on a car in his Kibbutz. When the Code Red sirens had sounded, Daniel’s parents rushed his two younger siblings to shelter and unfortunately did not make it in time to get Daniel. In another attack the day before, a man sustained severe wounds to the chest when a rocket landed near a children’s nursery on a Kibbutz. He managed to save a teacher and a child by pushing them into the shelter before he was injured himself.

In addition, sirens have been going off in Palestinian cities and villages such as Ramallah and Bi’lin. If Hamas rockets were to kill people in the West Bank, I wonder what side of the media’s “scoreboard” these Palestinians would be entered? Probably on the same side as the large number of Palestinian deaths from rockets misfiring, “work place accidents” and the recent spate of Hamas executions of suspected collaborators without trial, and most of which go unreported in the Age and elsewhere.

Israeli strikes have killed at least three of Hamas’ top terrorists. A fourth, the head of Hamas’ military operations, the notorious Mohammed Dief, is believed to have escaped death, but he has not shown his face either to prove he is alive. Nothing new there though, with most of the Palestinian leadership hiding underground whilst leaving their people exposed and in harm’s way with their deliberate and stated human shield policy.

On Thursday morning, Hamas threatened to fire rockets at Israel’s main airport – Ben Gurion International Airport – and ordered planes to stop landing or taking off after 6am. While it has not followed through with this threat as yet, past form shows it may be capable of it (a rocket landed in nearby Yahud a few weeks ago). To its credit, the Australian reported on this in Friday’s edition. To its discredit, the Age did not.

With the tragic deaths of 298 people last month in the Ukraine, and with a new report that was published a few days ago by News Limited about Syria possessing several hundred anti-aircraft missiles capable of bringing down low-flying commercial planes, the world should realise that Hamas and other jihadi terrorists of similar ilk are two sides of the same coin. The Age does not apparently want its readers to know this; it only seems to want to constantly repeat stories of Gaza’s victims without providing much more context to a conflict in which Hamas fighters and the thuggish hold they have on the people barely exist.

Meanwhile, it has also been confirmed that Hamas was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teens back in June. A Hamas official, Salah al-Aruri, praised the “heroic actions of the Kassam Brigades who kidnapped three settlers in Hebron”. Hamas leader Khaled Mashal has also now admitted the same thing in a recent interview.

Not surprisingly, those in the media who were reluctant to concede any Hamas involvement when Israel first raised that accusation and then subsequently were happy to suggest that Israel used it as a pretence for its attack on Hamas in Gaza (rather than the thousands of rockets that came before and after it), continues to look away. Those same journalists, such as Sheera Frenkel (who is often published in Fairfax publications) have stayed not unsurprisingly quiet over this story.

The Australian however, did cover it.

I have watched the Khaled Mashal interview which borders on the Monty Pythonesque. If it didn’t involve a terrorist organisation bent on committing genocide it would almost be comical. He declared, “We do not target civilians, and we try most of the time to aim at military targets and Israeli bases… But we admit that we have a problem. We do not have sophisticated weapons. We do not have the weapons available to our enemy … so aiming is difficult. We do promise you, though, that we will try in the future and we will warn people … We have given warnings to Israeli civilians. We promise that if we get more precise weapons, we will only target military targets.”

Spare me please!

Sadly, this madman’s words will no doubt be lapped up by his followers in the west, on the hard right and left, by the supporters of the jihadi movement and their willing media helpers who continue to perpetuate the lie that Hamas rockets are not deadly but rather simply homemade, rusty and inaccurate contraptions. But this is not 2005, this is 2014. A rocket that can reach Tel Aviv, or even as far as Haifa, is not manufactured in some backyard in Gaza. The shipments of dangerous weapons that Israel has intercepted en route to Gaza are clear evidence of the power of these weapons. They are mostly manufactured in Iran and financed by the corrupt government of Qatar.

With the ceasefire well and truly over, and rockets being fired as I type, the end to this current round of fighting seems nowhere in sight.

Emily Gian
Media & Advocacy Director
Zionist Federation of Australia