Monday, July 22nd | 19 Tammuz 5779

March 30, 2017 7:48 am

New York Times Lets Slip a Secret: The Identity of the Entity Really Blockading Gaza

avatar by Ira Stoll


A truck stopped at the Rafah crossing, bordering Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Photo: wiki commons.

“Killing of a Hamas Leader Could Signal a New Conflict With Israel” is the headline over a New York Times news article.

Well, it “could,” or it could not, but the Times is speculating away nonetheless.

The more newsworthy aspect of the article concerns the steps that the Hamas-led government in Gaza is taking to try to prevent the escape of the assassin.

The Times reports:

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Gaza’s Interior Ministry has taken the extraordinary measure of closing border crossings with Egypt and Israel to anyone except for patients needing medical treatment, the families of prisoners in Israeli jails or ministers in the Palestinian government…. The authorities also closed Gaza’s small port on the Mediterranean coast, barring fishermen from setting sail, as there was speculation that the assassin, or assassins, may have escaped by sea.

Well, that will come as interesting — and new — news to New York Times readers, who are regularly being falsely told by their newspaper that Gaza is under an “Israeli blockade.”

In fact, the same two Times reporters — Majd al Waheidi and Isabel Kershner — who wrote this week’s article about the supposedly “extraordinary measure of closing border crossings” also wrote an October 2016 Times news article headlined “Israel Halts Yacht Trying to Break Its Blockade of Gaza Strip.” That article referred to “the years-old sea blockade of the Hamas-run Palestinian coastal territory enforced by the Israeli Navy.”

A Times article from February 2017 by Ian Fisher reported:

As has been the case for a decade, the strip remains encircled. Israel tightly controls most going in and out: food, building supplies, people. Two children died recently for lack of drugs or medical access, one of cancer, the other of a heart problem.

“The blockade of Gaza is something I can compare to the Middle Ages and the besieged castle that can fall at any moment,” said Dr. Fadel Ashour, a psychiatrist in Gaza since 1994….

The February Times article quoted another Gaza resident, Mona Ghalayini, as saying, “We can survive, even with the blockade.”

A May 2016 Times obituary of an anti-Israel activist reported that she had participated in “a flotilla attempting to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.”

It’s a double standard, because the Times refers to security-based border restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt as a “blockade,” but does not use that politically charged term to describe the Hamas-imposed border restrictions.

The information also raises questions about the accuracy of the previous Times reporting. If there’s enough cross-border flow out of Gaza that Hamas can decide to restrict it even beyond “patients needing medical treatment, the families of prisoners in Israeli jails or ministers in the Palestinian government,” maybe it doesn’t even exactly amount in the first place to a “blockade.” My authoritative Webster’s Second unabridged dictionary says the term means “a shutting off of a place or region by hostile troops or ships in order to prevent passage.”

Anyway, it would be nice if the Times could be relied on to report accurately and impartially about cross-border flows of people and products regardless of which government it is that is restricting the flow. Instead, the information in this particular case seems to surface almost by accident. It’s only when Hamas cuts off the flow that careful Times readers are able to find out that, contrary to previous Times reporting, there is such a flow to shut off.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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