Sources of information about the Arab-Israeli conflict (2) – RTL Television and The Guardian about road 443 in Israel

This is a cross-post from Missing Peace

The Guardian in England presented an article by Rachel Shabi titled “Israel’s Apartheid Road”.
Once again the Guardian proved to be obsessed with the apartheid comparison. Shabi succeeded in twisting the facts in order to reach the inevitable conclusion that the opening of the road to Palestinians is in fact a continuation of – in her words- “segregationist policy” by Israel.
Amazingly, Dutch reporter Conny Mus of RTL 4 Television managed to scoop the Guardian this time. In a report that was broadcasted on Dutch television at May 5 he resorted to outright lies about the situation on road 443. Where Shabi defended the murders of innocent Israeli citizens on road 443, Mus didn’t even bother to mention that as the reason for the closure of the road eight years ago.
He presented the closure as an ordinary measure to punish the Palestinians.
Mus, who holds the prestigious position of Chairman of the Foreign Press Agency is relatively unknown in Israel. Over time, he has become increasingly hostile to Israel in his reports.
In this report about road 443 however, he crossed all lines and proved he is unfit to bear the title of journalist let alone to be the chairman of the FPA.

The attacks on road 443

Road 443 which only partly cuts through the West Bank has been closed to Palestinian cars from 2002. This happened after six Israeli citizens had been murdered in their cars by Palestinian terrorists, who fled to Ramallah.

  • December 22 2000 Eli Cohen (30) was murdered on road 443
  • January 15 2001 Yoella Chen (47) was shot at and killed at a gas station next to road 443
  • July 26 2001 Ronen Landau (17) was critically wounded and died later.
  • August 25 2001 Doron Sueri, Sharon and Yaniv Ben-Shalom were killed in a hail of bullets, their two baby daughters were wounded but survived the attack.

The closure of the road to Palestinian cars stopped the murders, but not the attacks. Even after the High Court decision to open the road, the attacks continued.

  • December 29 2009 an explosive device was found and neutralized next to the road
  • January 13 2010 An Israeli citizen had to be hospitalized after his car was stoned
  • March 2 2010 an IDF post next to Beit Ur a- Tahta on road 443 was shot at.
  • March 13 2010 a Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli car wounding a 9 month old Israeli baby.
  • May 17 and May 20 2010 Israeli drivers were stoned in their cars next to Beit Sira

Travel time to Ramallah

After the closure Israel built so called “fabric of life” roads connecting the Palestinian villages in the area with Ramallah. The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported on December 29 2009 about the High court decision in which the Palestinian Hassan Mafarjeh, the mayor of Beit Liqya village near the highway, said the trip to the main city in the area, Ramallah, took an hour on the dirt roads and 30 minutes on the alternate road. Using the highway would cut that to just 15 minutes, he said. A Missing Peace team that investigated the RTL and Guardian reports spoke to two Palestinian taxi drivers from the village Beit Ur a-Tahta. Both confirmed that the travel time to Ramallah was 40 minutes from Beit Ur a-Tahta. They took the MP team to Beit Sira which is next to Modi’in, from there the travel time was 45 minutes. Using the highway 443 to Ramallah taught the MP team that the travel time was some more than 20 minutes
Conny Mus however, had a different idea about the travel time to Ramallah, which he claimed was more than an hour on the alternate road. Shabi even claimed it took “hours” to reach Ramallah.
Mus also claimed that the extended travel time to Ramallah had cost Palestinian lives. His interview with a Palestinian woman contained two versions of the same story. Mus claimed an ambulance came too late to save the life of the woman’s husband. The woman however, said that she had decided to bring her husband to Ramallah herself. Shabi only mentioned that “sick patients don’t make it to hospitals on time”.
Both Mus and Shabi should have been aware of the fact that Israeli checkpoint commanders are instructed to allow emergency transports of seriously ill Palestinians to Israeli hospitals.
For example in 2009 20,000 Palestinians were transferred to Israeli hospitals for emergency treatment.

Implementation of the court order

The Guardian report mentions the preparations to implement the High court decision but bashes the IDF by stating that once again “the Israeli military – the real authority in the West Bank – has shown that, unless absolutely compelled to do so, it cannot be trusted to do the right thing in the occupied territories”. How so? Shabi has the answer : “just block the road in a different way and see if those pedantic judges shut up”.
RTL went even further and declared that the IDF didn’t care a bit about the HJC Order and blocked the implementation of it. Israeli papers however, had reported about the exact text of the court order. This is what Ha’aretz wrote on December 30 2009: The justices ruled that the military had five months to find a solution that would provide security to those using the road. The justices also ruled that there should be no interference in the judgment of the military commander in the area with regards to limiting travel on the road leading from the Ofer military base to Bitunya, which is near Ramallah (Italics added by Missing Peace)
Conny Mus, standing almost next to the -not visible- new entrance to road 443 at the village of Beit Sira, added stony-faced that “there was no prospect of opening of the road in the foreseeable future”. The Jerusalem Post reported on May 2 about the progress in the works on Road 443 and mentioned that the works had started weeks before May 2. The RTL report was made in the same period. Mus who is living in Jerusalem, must have passed parts of road 443 where the preparations for opening of the road were in full swing. This report contains only a few of the pictures (appendix 2) taken by the Missing Peace photographer on May 20 of the numerous places were work was done as a result of the HJC Order. The Jerusalem Post reported on May 2 about the progress in the works on Road 443 and mentioned that the works had started weeks before May 2.

Reporting the facts?

At the end of the RTL report the camera zoomed in on the city of Modi’in while Mus commented: “They ( Palestinians in the area) also have to accept that Jewish settlements are rapidly approaching their villages and are consuming the Palestinian lands”. No matter that Modi’in is 95 % built within the Green Line (1948 armistice line). No matter the fact that since 2002 only natural growth within the boundaries of settlements is allowed. And no matter the fact that since September 2009 new projects in existing settlements on the West Bank have been frozen.
In a recent blog Conny Mus stated that foreign journalists are responsible for reporting the facts about Israel. He was ridiculing the recent campaign by the Israeli government to improve the public diplomacy. He also explained that his viewers are wise enough to look through the Israeli propaganda.
This report shows clearly that neither RTL nor The Guardian reported the facts about the opening of road 443. The lies Conny Mus reported in his May 5 report should be enough for his removal as the chairman of the Foreign Press Association in Israel.

Appendix 1

Map of the area next to road 443. The purple lines show the “fabric of life” roads that Israel built after the closure of 443 to Palestinian cars

Appendix 2

Construction of the checkpoint near the Ramallah intersection on 443

The new exit to Beit Ur al-Fauqa and checkpoint on road 443

Construction of exit to Beit Sira near the Maccabim checkpoint on road 443. The Maccabim checkpoint was visible in the RTL report, the new exit was not.

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