17th November, 2006
Guilty of Poor Marksmanship
Three tragic events took place on the same day early this month:
1) 82 police officer killed by terrorists in Pakistan;
2) 60 people killed in Iraq in several terror bombings;
3) 19 Palestinians killed in Beit Hanoun, Gaza by Israeli artillery.
The events in Pakistan and Iraq got their 15 minutes of fame, but the incident in Gaza was played up in the media over and over again, complete with gory pictures of blood flowing in the streets, dead babies, and mourning adults. Why this disproportional coverage on Gaza?
Good journalism requires that a story include all of the 5 W's:
Who, What, Where, When and Why.
We got very detailed coverage on the first four W's, but very little on the last one - WHY?
Some reports did mention that rocket fire had first been directed from Gaza into Southern Israel, but mentioned it at the end of the story. By that time most readers had their minds made up and didn't even reach the last paragraph. An exception was the Canadian national daily, the Globe and Mail, which provided the missing WHY!
From the article "AFTER BEIT HANOUN", dated November 10th, 2006:
What happened this week to residents in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun was a terrible tragedy. A misdirected artillery barrage claimed the lives of 18 members of an extended Palestinian family, eight of them children, and injured 54 other people. The Israeli military, which had just withdrawn from the community after a six-day offensive, must shoulder the responsibility for the accident. But Palestinian authorities must share the blame. Because they did nothing to stop teams of militants from setting up in Beit Hanoun and brazenly firing Kassam rockets at Israeli communities, they set the stage for the inevitable Israeli response.
No nation could stand by indefinitely while its citizens' lives were put at risk by wanton violence rained down on them daily for months on end. Israel had no choice but to strike back. When another batch of rockets reached the suburbs of a town even deeper inside Israel after the withdrawal of its soldiers, Israel responded with artillery. The Israelis were apparently targeting a grove where rocket fire had been spotted, but missed their mark.
Sadly, Palestinian political leaders are all too ready to make a dreadful situation worse by escalating the violence. Hamas has declared that it will return after a two-year absence to its preferred terrorist tactic of sending suicide bombers into Israel. "The armed struggle is free to resume, and the resistance will be dictated by local circumstances," Khaled Meshaal, Hamas's exiled political leader, said in Damascus. "There must be a roaring reaction so that we avenge all those victims." Other militant groups have also vowed revenge, conveniently ignoring that they could have prevented the bloodshed in the first place. What Israel was actually guilty of is poor marksmanship! It is a given in the military that at least one missile in a hundred will go astray. This is called "collateral damage" in all other wars. The Israeli try to minimize civilian casualties, but this is difficult against an enemy fighting in civilian clothing and hiding behind a civilian shield. In Lebanon, Israel could have levelled the suburbs of Beirut and all of South Lebanon where Hezbollah has their headquarters, TV stations, and supplies of military hardware.
Instead, out of consideration for civilian lives, Israel targeted only military installations. Meanwhile, the terrorists -- Hezbollah in the North, Hamas in the South -- load their rockets with thousands of ball-bearings for maximum kill and aim randomly at the Israeli towns and villages within their range. These pellets can penetrate steel guard-rails, imagine what they good do to a human body!As is usual in similar cases, a motion was presented at the UN Security Council, putting all the blame on Israel. It was vetoed by the USA, but ten of the fifteen members were ready to vote in its favour. Peace will come when the terrorists lay down their arms, accept the existence of Israel, renounce violence, and resume negotiations on the "Road Map to Peace" between two nations, living side by side, in harmony.
Shalom from Max.