As we noted in a previous post, a passage in a Feb. 26th Telegraph report by Raziye Akkoc on the British graffiti artist known as Banksy included the following unchallenged claim:
In the less than two-minute long video [about Gaza] published on the artist’s website, Banksy refers to the “development opportunities” then adds that no cement has been allowed in to the area.
The clear implication, if you watch the Bansky video and see the claim in context, is that Israel hasn’t allowed cement into Gaza.
Here’s a still shot of the relevant frame in the video:
The Telegraph reporter didn’t challenge Bansky’s allegation that “no cement has been allowed into the area”, despite the fact that Reuters and other media outlets have reported that cement is indeed entering Gaza under an agreement struck with the UN. Thus, Telegraph readers are left with the false impression that Bansky’s claim is accurate.
After a series of emails with Telegraph editors, they agreed to add an additional sentence (in bold).
In the less than two-minute long video published on the artist’s website, Banksy refers to the “development opportunities” then adds that no cement has been allowed in to the area. However, small amounts of cement are now entering the territory under an agreement stuck by the United Nations allowing in reconstruction materials under tight restrictions.
Whilst the correction is of course welcome, the new claim that only “small amounts” of cement are entering Gaza is also a bit misleading.
As CAMERA noted recently, the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in its monthly humanitarian bulletin, reported the following:
As of 4 February, over 60,000 individuals requiring construction material for shelter repairs have been cleared to purchase materials under the temporary GRM [Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism], agreed between the Israeli and Palestinian governments and facilitated by UNSCO. Of these individuals, around 40,000 had procured construction materials by that date…A total of 56,009 tons (or roughly 1,300 truckloads) of construction materials have been imported by 14 private sector vendors, of which over 43,561 tons have been procured by individuals.
However, the pace of Gaza reconstruction is indeed, by all accounts, slower than it should be. But, again, this has little to do with Israel.
As the United Nations recently reported in its monthly humanitarian bulletin:
The frustration of the Gaza population is heightened by the slow disbursement of funds pledged by member states during the October 2014 Cairo Conference for the reconstruction of Gaza, a factor that severely handicaps the ability of humanitarian and development actors to face the enormous recovery and reconstruction workload….
Additional problems with Gaza reconstruction are related to the political rivalry between PA and Hamas. Daniel Taub, Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, noted this political infighting in an op-ed published in the Guardian:
The secretary-general of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, was in no doubt about the cost of this political dispute, telling the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper: “The internal differences and the absence of cooperation between the PA and Hamas are behind the delay in reconstructing the Gaza Strip.”
So, cement and other construction materials are indeed arriving in Gaza.
However, the degree to which Gaza reconstruction is slower than it should be is due largely to the failure of Cairo Conference member states to distribute promised funds, as well as the “absence of cooperation between the PA and Hamas”.
Of course, Banksy is a ‘radical’ political artist, not a journalist, and it’s not surprising that his video agitprop would include such a false charge against Israel. But, it’s the responsibility of putatively serious journalists in the British media to challenge claims by such propagandists, and not to mislead readers by accepting specious claims at face value.