Spinning the latest assault on Gaza

November 16, 2012

As reported in the Guardian’s Middle East blog (a source for updates on the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict), the basic facts of the conflict as of Nov. 14, the first day of the conflict, were as follows:

 Israel killed Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jaabari in an airstrike on his car in Gaza. Israel followed the assassination with sustained air and naval strikes across Gaza, concentrating in the north. Hamas vowed to avenge the act.

• Israeli officials said the offensive, called “Pillar of Defense,” was meant to stop the launch of hundreds of rockets on civilian populations in southern Israel in recent months.

• At least nine Palestinians have been killed in the strikes, including women and children, according to the Palestinian envoy to the UN. That number was expected to climb, possibly significantly. Dozens of Palestinians were reported injured.

• Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, “We are still at the beginning of the event, not at the end, and we expect some complicated tests ahead.” He said that increased deterrence, as well as taking out Hamas’ rocket-launching capability, is a primary goal of the offensive.

 Egypt recalled its ambassador to Israel, condemning the attack.President Morsi called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. The Arab League announced a meeting on the crisis to take place Saturday.

• The assault is the widest offensive against Gaza since the Israeli invasion of 2008-2009, known as Cast Lead, in which at least 1,100 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died.

• At least 90 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel Wednesday.There were no reports of casualties.

 The United States pledged its support to Israel, asking that it “take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.” President Obama did not mention the conflict in an hourlong news conference today, and he was not asked by reporters about it.

And here are the facts as of November 15, the second day of the conflict:

• The Israeli assault on Gaza continued Thursday with multiple series of air and naval strikes. The strikes continued as 1 a.m. local time approached.

• The Associated Press reported that Israeli forces were moving toward the Gaza border “in prelude to possible ground offensive.”

 Separate counts put the death toll in Gaza at 18 or 19. Three Palestinians were killed in a strike this evening in Beit Hanoun, in the north. At least one of the victims was a teenager, according to Palestinian health officials.

• Three Israelis were killed when a rocket fired from Gaza hit their apartment in Kiryat Malachi. More than 300 rockets have been fired into Israel since Saturday, the IDF reports, with about 120 intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.

• Warning sirens sounded in Tel Aviv for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War as rockets were fired toward the metropolitan area. At least one rocket reportedly landed in the sea. Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak said “the other side will have to pay” for the act of aggression.

• Egyptian prime minister Hesham Qandil was to lead a delegation into Gaza Friday. Tunisia said it was sending a delegation Sunday.UN secretary general Ban ki-Moon announced plans to visit Israel and Egypt. French President Francois Hollande initiated talks with the Isreali prime minister. The United states asked Egypt and Turkey to convince Hamas to stop firing rockets.

• Addressing followers in Beirut via video feed, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called on Arab countries to open their borders to Palestinian refugees and show support for Hamas.

So the basic facts are these. (1) Israel broke an informal ceasefire with a targeted Israeli air strike that assassinated Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’s military wing. (2) Predictably, Palestinians returned fire, killing 3 Israelis. (3) Additional air and naval strikes by Israel have resulted in at least 18 Palestinians being killed and hundreds injured.

Consider now the headlines in the mainstream media:

(From CNN) Rockets pound Israel, Gaza as Netanhayu alleged “double war crime.”

(From CNN) Israeli: How would you feel if your children were constantly scared?

(From LA Times) 3 Israelis killed in rocket attack as army continues striking Gaza

(From Australian news) Hamas should stop attacks says Julia Gillard

As the disproportionate violence and death toll mounts, it will be instructive to observe the bias in the headlines of the mainstream media. Also worth paying attention to will be the number of articles that actually discuss this latest conflict within the context of Israel’s brutal 45-year occupation of the Palestinian territories.

For some intelligent and informed commentary on the the crisis, one needs to escape the mainstream media of the west and turn instead either to alternative or non-western sources such as these:

Democracy Now interview with Mohammed Omer

Al-jazeera article by Mark Levine

Russian TV interview with Norman Finkelstien

As for the alleged “double war crime” committed by the Palestinians Netanyahu’s press conference on it can be found here. He stresses that there is “no moral equivalence” between what Israel is doing and what the Palestinians are doing. And he’s absolutely right, though not for the reason he thinks.


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