The belief, held by the overwhelming majority of Jewish Britons, that the UK media’s coverage of Israel fuels antisemitism, is largely based on the manner in which headlines, text and imagery in reports on Palestinian casualties imputes Israeli guilt (and malevolence) by failing to provide balance and relevant context.
A March 27th Guardian article by Mairav Zonszein (a contributor for the far-left web magazine +972) represents a prime example of this consistent journalistic failure.
In addition to the misleading headline, the accompanying text provides almost no background on the circumstances surrounding the more than 2,000 Palestinian fatalities.
Zonszein writes the following:
Israel killed more Palestinian civilians in 2014 than in any other year since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip began in 1967, a UN report has said.
Israel’s activities in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem resulted in the deaths of 2,314 Palestinians and 17,125 injuries, compared with 39 deaths and 3,964 injuries in 2013, according to the annual report (pdf) by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The conflict in Gaza in July and August was largely responsible for the dramatic increase in fatalities. It claimed the lives of 2,220 Gazans, of whom 1,492 were civilians, 605 militants and 123 unverified.
More than 11,000 people were injured and about 500,000 Palestinians were internally displaced at the height of the conflict. About 100,000 remain so.
First, the OCHA document linked to in the article acknowledges that their figures were based on information from the (Hamas-run) Gaza Health Ministry – casualty numbers, especially regarding the percentage of civilians killed, which have been refuted by multiple sources.
A report published by the Jerusalem Center Public Affairs by Lenny Ben-David cited an ongoing analysis of the summer war casualties, by a respected Israeli research center, contradicting the Hamas statistics.
On December 1, 2014, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported on its detailed, name-by-name analysis of 1,598 Palestinian fatalities in Operation Protective Edge that amounted to 75 percent of those who were killed. Of the fatalities who could be identified, about 45 percent were non-combatants, while 55 percent were combatants – nowhere near the levels of civilian losses that were discussed in the media.
Additionally, Zonszein fails to even speculate on the number of Palestinians killed by the hundreds of misfired terrorist rockets which fell within Gaza.
Moreover, Guardian readers are not told that if Hamas accepted the Egyptian-proposed ceasefire on July 15th, as Israel did, the number of Palestinians killed would have been around 200, 90% less than the total by the end of the war on Aug. 27th.
Further, Zonszein somehow managed to make reference to the summer war in Gaza without noting the continuous rocket attacks which triggered the conflict. In the three weeks leading up to the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th, terrorists in Gaza fired 250 rockets at Israeli communities.
Tellingly, the word “Hamas” does not appear anywhere in Zonszein’s article.
During the entire fifty day war, more than 4,000 rockets and mortar rounds were fired at Israel from Gaza. And, as even anti-Israel NGOs have acknowledged, rockets used by Palestinian terrorists are unguided projectiles which “are inherently indiscriminate”, and therefore “prohibited under international law”. Thus, their use “constitutes a war crime”.
In short, Palestinians in Gaza committed thousands of individual war crimes in launching rockets which could have killed thousands of Israeli non-combatants in 2014.
We of course don’t ever expect to see a Guardian headline titled ‘Palestinian terrorists attempted to kill thousands of Israeli civilians in 2014’, because, as former AP correspondent Matt Friedman argued, the media operate under the assumption that the only party that matters in covering the conflict is Israel, and thus Palestinians can only exist as passive victims of Israeli aggression.
- How the AP Whitewashed Hamas (legalinsurrection.com)