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August 1, 2018 1:09 pm

UK Media Backgrounder on ‘Gaza-Israel Conflict’ Is Riddled with Distortions

avatar by Adam Levick

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Palestinian rioters on the Israel-Gaza Strip border, May 14, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

The Independent’s new Mideast correspondent Bel Trew penned a backgrounder on the “Gaza-Israel conflict” that’s full of distortions.

Below are some highlights from the July 27 article.

Trew asks: “Why has there been an upsurge in violence?” to which she replies:

At the heart of the latest escalation is 16 weeks of Palestinian protests that have taken place at the border fence between Gaza and Israel.

However, what’s been occurring at the border each week since March 3 can’t accurately be characterized as merely “protests.” Rather, the Great Return March has included violent riots and attacks by terrorists armed with guns, pipe bombs, machetes, and incendiary devices. Their goal was to sneak into Israel and murder civilians.

On April 6, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar appeared at one of the tents near the border and proclaimed that rioters would tear down the border fence and rip out the hearts of Israelis.

Trew then states:

Palestinians, who have suffered for over a decade under a crippling blockade, have said they are peacefully demonstrating during the Great March of Return marches, which is their right. But Israel has accused Hamas, the proscribed militant group that runs the enclave, of encouraging protesters to be violent towards their soldiers, to cut the border fence and to launch raids inside Israel.

Trew fails to mention the thousands of rocket attacks on Israeli towns since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, which resulted in Israel’s partial blockade to stem the flow of weaponry. Moreover, since the Great Return March began, hundreds of rockets have been fired at Israel by Gaza terrorists — the highest number of such attacks since 2014.

Tellingly, the word “rocket” doesn’t appear once in Trew’s nearly 1,500 word article.

Further, Hamas didn’t simply “encourage protesters” to be violent. They embedded their own fighters among the rioters and gave instructions to attack civilians if they successfully crossed the border.

Trew continues:

The Israeli army, that said its citizens near to Gaza are in danger, subsequently tightened an 11-year-old blockade on the strip, closing Kerem Shalom, the sole goods crossing between Israel and Gaza. … Israel said earlier this week that it would allow fuel and gas to be transferred via Kerem Shalom.

In fact, the Kerem Shalom crossing was never fully closed. It was always open to humanitarian-related supplies.

Trew also fails to note that Palestinians set the Kerem Shalom crossing on fire three times in recent months, causing tens of millions of dollars in damage.

Trew states:

On Friday, 20 July, Israeli Staff Sergeant Aviv Levi, 21, was killed by what the Israeli army called a “violent raid” during the protests.

The raid was clearly violent, as the Israeli soldier was killed. This isn’t merely an Israeli “claim.”

Trew continues:

It marked the first time an Israeli soldier was killed by Palestinian gunfire near Gaza since the last war in 2014 and so crossed a definitive red line. Israel said that gunmen had shot at and lobbed grenades at its soldiers. It responded by bombarding Gaza with tank and air fire, and said its forces struck 60 “military sites” run by Hamas.

But Trew doesn’t inform readers that, on the day in question, Hamas fired up to 200 rockets into Israel, causing several civilian injuries.

Trew continues:

Earlier in the month, there was the most intense exchange of fire between Gaza militants and Israel since the 2014 war — largely due to the border protests.

Again, the cause of this exchange of fire was not “protests,” but Hamas terror attacks — including rocket fire, infiltration attempts, and the launching of thousands of incendiary devices.

Trew writes:

Palestinians in Gaza, including the armed factions, say the Israeli security forces have used live ammunition against peaceful protesters, and launched devastating airstrikes on the strip, killing dozens of people.

Israel fired on terrorists, and not simply “peaceful protesters.” Hamas has acknowledged this openly.

Trew then asks “Who is responsible?” to which she explains that “both sides blame each other” before adding “Israel maintains Hamas, that it regards as a terrorist group…”

However, it isn’t only Israel that regards Hamas as a terror group. The US, EU, and other states do as well. Finally, the “both sides blame each other” phrasing used by the correspondent is one in a long list of clichés employed by journalists to avoid reaching the morally intuitive conclusion that the violent extremist group that controls Gaza is more interested in stoking conflict than the Jewish democracy that they’re trying to destroy.

Adam Levick covers the British media for CAMERA, the 65,000-member Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

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