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Gaza reporting: the importance of balance and timing

Gaza reporting: the importance of balance and timing

By Leslie Bravery | Palestine Human Rights Campaign | 15 March 2014

The New Zealand Herald (14 March) published two stories of violence over Gaza with the headlines 'Israeli warplanes strike back in Gaza' and 'Rockets strike Israel, jeopardising truce talk'. Those headlines and the general tone of reporting gave the impression that the Israeli military action was simply a response to unprovoked Palestinian aggression. The actual record of the balance and timing of violence over the Gaza Strip reveals a different reality.

This month, before the actions reported in those stories, there were no Palestinian missile attacks on Israel for the first four days, whereas Israel attacked Gaza on each of the first three. These attacks included Israeli drone strikes that killed two Palestinians in Beit Hanun and wounded twochildren – one of them critically. In those first three days, Israeli artillery fired upon North Beit Lahiya, Abasan al-Kabira and Khuza’a. In addition,the Israeli Navy opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off Beit Lahiya and al-Sudaniya. On 5 March, Palestinian missiles were fired towards the Green Line but over the ensuing five days, until 10 March, there were no Palestinian missiles fired, while on 8 and 10 March, the Israeli Navy again opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off Beit Lahiya. Also on 10 March, under cover of shelling from Israeli tanks, the Israeli Army shot its way onto Khaza’a village farmland and bulldozed crops. On 11 March, Palestinian missiles were fired in two separate actions after Israeli drone strikes inEast Rafah had killed three persons and injured another. That evening, the Israel Navy opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats, hijacking one of them and taking prisoner two crew members.
The February record of the balance and timing of violence (see reveals an even greater asymmetry in both aggression and numbers of victims. Palestinian missiles were fired on six days in that month and, according to the Israeli Army, caused no death, injury or damage.At the same time, there were Israeli attacks on 19 days and the Israeli Navy enforced economically-damaging fishing restrictions on Palestinian fishing boats on every day of the month. Also in February there were three Israeli air-strikes on the Gaza Strip, 41 Israeli Army attacks, 54Palestinians wounded (including seven children). Five people were critically injured and three of those critically injured were children. The Israeli Army also killed two Palestinians in Gaza, including a mentally-handicapped woman.

It should also be remembered that Palestinian missile violence is not solely prompted by events in Gaza. Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem affects all Palestinians. Since the United Nations has declared 2014 to be the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People it would be timely to begin investing greater balance and fairness in the presentation of news from the region.


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