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Response to Death In The Med

TV One's "Sunday" broadcast: the BBC Panorama story "Death in the Med"

Cameron Bennett's introductory remark that the programme aired as Israel's account of its boarding of ships belonging to the aid flotilla was useful as far as it went. The comment, however, went nowhere near to redressing the lack of balance in news media reporting of the Israeli military Occupation and blockade of the Palestinian people's homeland.

In what was a relatively peaceful 24 hours from 8am Saturday 28 August to 8am Sunday 29 August, two Palestinian workers were wounded when an Israeli Army position on the Green Line opened fire on the town of Beit Hanun, in Central Gaza. At dawn, Israeli armoured vehicles and bulldozers, covered by helicopter gunships and other aircraft, invaded Palestinian farms near the Al Bureij refugee camp, opening fire on houses and agricultural areas; in Qalqilya at 1:25am the Israeli Army raided the city, invading a number of houses, vandalising the interiors and taking prisoner five people. Needless to say, if Israelis had been wounded by rocket fire from Gaza or Israeli homes had been invaded and vandalised, the events would have featured prominently in our news.

At the very least, the New Zealand public deserves to hear the other side of the flotilla attack story. Barely mentioned in the broadcast were the deaths of the nine activists and the post mortems that showed five out of the nine killed had been shot in the head. Over fifty passengers suffered serious injuries.

Israel's claim that it was justified in its action because it was “at war” show how far removed Israeli state conciousness is from civilised norms. It should not need to be pointed out that international law imposes a duty to protect civilians at all times. Israel's blockade of Gaza has been declared illegal by the UN and UN Resolution 1866 calls for its immediate end – for that reason also the boarding of civilian shipping in international waters in support of the blockade was illegal.

TV and Press editors in New Zealand should be aware of the following facts:

Israel belligerently occupies Palestinian land. Palestinians do not occupy Israel.

Israel makes frequent night-time home invasions in Occupied territory. Palestinians do not invade Israeli homes.

The Israeli Army bulldozes Palestinian crops and has destroyed over half a million olive trees. Palestinians do not destroy Israeli agriculture.

The Israeli Navy frequently attacks Palestinian fishing boats at sea close to Gaza, sometimes wounding crew members and sinking boats. Palestinians do not attack Israeli fishing boats.

Israel is building a Wall, ruled illegal by the World Court, that it calls a “separation barrier”. The Wall annexes Palestinian territory and separates Palestinian communities from each other and from their farmland. Palestinians do not annex Israeli land.

This year (2010) over 240 Palestinian youngsters between the ages of 9 and 17 have been abducted by Israeli soldiers, some dragged from their homes in the middle of the night. Palestinians do not abduct Israeli children.

Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in occupied territory, describing them as “illegal” but it is Israel's presence in occupied territory that is illegal. Palestinians do not demolish Israeli homes.

The atrocious daily violations of human rights that Israel inflicts upon the Palestinian people go scarcely acknowledged in our news media. Consider the extensive coverage that would ensue if the Israeli people were to suffer any of the above cruelties. Then ask yourselves: is the New Zealand public getting good service from its news media regarding Middle East reporting?

The airing of Israeli propaganda in defence of its violations of international law is deplorable. Our news media should consider themselves obliged to report violations of human rights and international law for what they are. Instead, where Israeli actions are concerned, the news of the Middle East is at times non-existent and at others woefully inadequate.

Leslie Bravery,
for Palestine Human Rights Campaign Aotearoa/New Zealand

© Scoop Media

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