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Hot and Bothered At CNN
Until recently, you couldn't get the weather forecast for Jerusalem, Israel on CNN Weather, though you could get forecasts for Arab villages that haven't existed since 1948. The issue was first blogged by IsraellyCool, and thanks to the public outcry, Israel's capital city is now listed.
This time of the year, Jerusalem weather is only hot or hotter.
BBC Already Raises the Bar on Blair
Tony Blair barely stepped down as British prime minister to become the Quartet's special envoy to the Mideast, and already, there's a discrepancy between what Blair's job description is and what the BBC would like it to be. Here's how the LA Times summed up Blair's new duties:
Blair's job will focus on narrow and technical topics rather than broader issues related to a final Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, officials said. His assignment is to increase humanitarian aid, strengthen the Palestinian economy and improve the governance of the territories.
And as the NY Times points out, Condoleezza Rice will continue to push for the bigger picture issues of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
But contrast all that with BBC bureau chief Jeremy Bowen's wishful thinking:
It is hard to believe that he would want to concentrate on things like making the Palestinian finance ministry work more effectively, and creating a legal system that means people do not have to go to their clans for justice and protection, however important all those challenges are for peoples' lives.
If he wants to make a real mark in the Middle East, Mr Blair will need to get to grips with the big, politically radioactive issues.
Bowen's list of issues includes the future of Jerusalem, creating a sovereign Palestinian state with set borders, "ending 40 years of Israeli military occupation," control of West Bank aquifiers, and solutions for Palestinian refugees and settlements — issues left to Rice. Blair's mission to help the Palestinians get their house in order is admirable, thankless and quixotic enough. Raising the bar of expectations only makes it easier for the BBC to blame Israel should Blair fail.
Say It In Reverse
Here's AP's background info on an IDF raid on Nablus yesterday:
The Nablus raid was an indication that Israel will not stop fighting militants linked to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement — even though Israel is supporting Abbas in his struggle against Hamas, the Islamic group that seized control of the Gaza Strip two weeks ago.
Reversing the thrust of Ali Daraghmeh's snippet, holds equally true. I didn't want to get sidetracked over the word "militant," so I left it in for the sake of argument:
The Nablus raid was an indication that militants linked to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement will not stop fighting Israel -- even though Israel is supporting Abbas in his struggle against Hamas, the Islamic group that seized control of the Gaza Strip two weeks ago.
Thumbs up to AP for following up on the anxieties of Gaza's Christian community after a Catholic convent and school were ransacked during Hamas' takeover.
BBC Employs Hamas Operative
Israel allowed an unidentified BBC employee -- who is also a member of Hamas -- to enter Gaza to secure (unsuccessfully as it turned out) Alan Johnston's release. The Jerusalem Post reports:
Defense officials told The Jerusalem Post that a week ago, a request came from the BBC asking that a Palestinian employee of the news company who is believed to be a close associate of senior Hamas officials be allowed to enter Gaza.
The employee, who lives in Gaza, had traveled to Egypt with his wife for medical reasons and the BBC told Israeli officials that they believed he could assist in negotiating Johnston's release.
The Shin Bet objected to the BBC request, saying that the employee was actually a member of Hamas, and perhaps even a terrorist operative....
The Palestinian entered Gaza, and after a few days informed his BBC employers that Johnston was not being held by Hamas and therefore the group had little influence over his captors, believed to be from the Army of Islam and members of the Durmush clan from the Rafah area in the southern Gaza Strip.
Since when is the BBC employing a known member of Hamas? Any others, like Fayad Abu Shamala, we should know about?
Attorney: NY Times and Washington Post Legally Complicit in Terror
Could the NY Times and Washington Post be guilty of providing material support for a terrorist organization? Find out the answer to this question at HonestReporting's latest communique: Attorney: NY Times and Washington Post Legally Complicit in Terror
Two Hostages, Two Attitudes
The Times of London raises an important point about the way Hamas has handled the Gilad Shalit and Alan Johnston kidnappings:
Hamas’s attitude to the two prisoners varies wildly. It has demanded that the Army of Islam, its former comrades-in-arms, release Johnston immediately, and has threatened to use force to free him. Those threats may have prompted the gang to up the ante by rigging the journalist with explosives.
But Hamas is deploying different tactics over Corporal Schalit, using him as a bargaining chip with Israel, an act denounced yesterday by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem as a war crime.
Iranian Satellite News Nears Launch
The MSM's buzzing over Iran's plans to launch a 24-hour English language satellite news channel. Press TV goes on air July 2. Their web site -- also in English -- is already on line.
MSM, Bloggers, Played Into Terrorists' Hands?
In today's Jerusalem Post, Shelly Paz discussed with experts the MSM's wisdom of broadcasting the latest Alan Johnston video and Gilad Shalit audio:
Ben-Zedeff believes that the reporters and especially the editors of the world's mainstream media have to filter the news items they decide to publish more thoroughly to change this reality.
"When Osama Bin-Laden sent his tape to the media, a few days after his organization attacked the Twin Towers in New York, the American communications media reported on the tape but didn't use the footage. By taking this decision, they didn't let Bin-Laden achieve what he hoped to achieve. This model has to be implemented here as well."
Prof. Tamar Liebes, head of the Communications faculty at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, cited the competition between the media as well as increased globalization. These factors led to the reality that terrorists are now covered and treated in the mainstream media as legitimate "movie stars."
The same criticism applies to the bloggers (including Backspin, which embedded the Johnston video and linked to the Shalit audio). Did we play into the terrorists' hands?
ABC Media Watch Watching
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's show, Media Watch, is in the spotlight after it attacked a number of newspaper web sites and bloggers for posting anti-Semitic comments. It turns out Media Watch's hands aren't so clean either. See responses from Sydney's Daily Telegraph and blogger Tim Blair.
(Hat tip: LGF)
You Know the MSM's Warped When...
CNN calls Hamas a “political movement.”
Cpl. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier abducted by Palestinian political movement Hamas a year ago....
You know the MSM is warped when Hamas is labeled a “political movement,” while Reporters Sans Frontiers are literally called a bunch of “militants.”
Suicide Bombers: Israel the Cause
Andrew Alexander tries - and fails - to get inside the mind of a suicide bomber. See HonestReporting-UK's latest communique: Suicide Bombers: Israel the Cause.
Gilad Shalit: One Year, Still Counting
YNet News reports that Hamas has promised a "surprise," possibly a video, to mark the first anniversary of Gilad Shalit's kidnapping. Meanwhile, Israeli media reports that Cpl. Shalit is being held in a booby trapped building near Rafah.
UPDATE 3:26 p.m.: Hamas posted an audio message of Shalit on its web site saying his health is deteriorating.
Video Shows Johnston in Bomb Belt
Wearing a bomb belt, Alan Johnston appeared in another video now posted on Live Leak.
"I have been dressed in what is an explosive belt, which the kidnappers say will be detonated if there is any attempt to storm the area, and they say they are ready to turn the hide-out into what they describe as a death zone if there is an attempt to free me by force."
See AP for more background on this video.
PA Media War Turns Shrill
The guns of Gaza may have cooled, but not the Hamas-Fatah media war. AFP describes how the Palestinian airwaves are now filled with shrill name-calling and invective, courtesy TV stations allied with both sides:
Each side says the other is a foreign agent - Hamas accuses Fatah of being agents for Israel, while Fatah blasts the Islamists of working for Iran.
How many AP editors did this caption get past?
Reporter Without Borders (RSF) militants stage a protest near the Eiffel Tower in a show of solidarity with kidnapped British journalist Alan Johnston, in Paris, Wednesday, June 20, 2007. Intensive negotiations are underway toward freeing British Broadcasting Corp. journalist Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped three months ago in Gaza, a senior Hamas official said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
One mime's militant is another mime's freedom fighter....
(Hat tip: LGF)
The Obersver’s Mitchell Prothero interviewed Hamas’ top commander for Gaza, Abu Obieda about taking over Gaza:
Despite February's formation of a unity government of the two factions, Abu Obieda knew war between the two would come. He started planning even as the leaders tried to negotiate peace.
This contradicts Ahmed Yousef, an advisor to Ismail Haniyeh, who says Hamas "for 18 months tried to find ways to coexist with Fatah." If this is how Hamas negotiates "coexistence" with fellow Palestinians, what kind of treatment can Israel possibly expect?
"You Hardly Hear About It"
See It's Almost Supernatural for the South African Broadcasting Corporation's latest insanity.
BBC Trashes Fatah?
For years, when Yasser Arafat and Fatah were running the PA, they could do no wrong in the BBC's eyes. Now the BBC writes how terrible things have been since Arafat and his cronies to return from Tunisia:
In 1994, when Yasser Arafat returned in triumph to the Gaza Strip after decades in exile, the PLO, with Fatah at its head, was on the road to national redemption. But as they returned, Arafat's men appeared to forget that there were other Palestinians already in the Palestinian territory.
Men and women who had already fought their own first intifada paid a heavy sacrifice in blood, and forced Israel to take them seriously. Move aside, the newcomers seemed to say. We are in charge now. Leave it to us.
For Gazans and West Bankers - secular and religious activists alike - this was galling. When the newcomers began to flaunt their new-found wealth, building ostentatious villas in one of the poorest places on earth, disillusion quickly set in.
We're certainly not responsible for Fatah's p.r. But we have to wonder what's really motivating the Beeb? Cozying up to a new regime? CNN took that path to nowhere. Securing Alan Johnston's release? The National Union of Journalists' boycott of Israel has accomplished nothing as the correspondent is a pawn of Palestinian power games. Maybe this has something to do with Ahmed Yousef's prolific writing? Hmmmmm.
Claiming and Denying Credit
Is Alan Johnston's release being held up by terror politics? The Jerusalem Post writes:
Fatah leaders have been urging the captors of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston to hold on to him to avoid a situation where Hamas would take credit for his release, Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas in the Gaza Strip, said Saturday.
Times sure have changed. Remember when these two terror groups used to sometimes "claim responsibility" for the same murderous attacks on Israelis?
Ahmed Yousef, an advisor to Ismail Haniyeh got op-ed space in the Washington Post to call on the West to recognize and engage the Hamas regime.
No need to fisk this. Yousef doesn't talk about Hamas' charter, the organization's cozying up to Iran, the fact that foreign aid to the PA tripled despite the embargo, or the organization's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
But the Hamas apologist is on a hot streak; yesterday, Yousef had another commentary published in the NY Times and the International Herald-Tribune. The latter paper published him opposite David Makovsky.
UPDATE June 24: According to Reuters:
Both Fred Hiatt, the Post's editorial page editor and David Shipley, the Times' deputy editorial page editor, said they would not have carried the articles had they known of the other paper's publishing plans.
Meanwhile, the Sacramento Bee, Salt Lake Tribune, and The Guardian gave Yousef a soapbox platform.
BBC Put Troops at Risk
The BBC is under fire for risking the safety of soldiers in Iraq after its web site requested people to report troop movements. The Daily Telegraph writes:
Last night the BBC confirmed the wording of the request was: "Are you in Iraq? Have you seen any troop movements? If you have any information you would like to share with the BBC, you can do so using the form below."
The BBC confirmed last night that this form of words had appeared on the website from "late morning" until early afternoon.
"It was down by 2pm," The Daily Telegraph was told.
A spokesman was unable to offer a detailed explanation of why anyone at the BBC should be seeking such information or whether any details on troop movements had been received.
He refused to identify who put the message up but said that "the journalist" responsible had been reminded that "this is not a form of words we would use".
The BBC's Vicky Taylor admitted that the wording was a mistake and apologized. Speaking of BBC apologies ....
"Terror" Only Happens to Journalists
We're happy that this LA Times staff-ed about Alan Johnston uses the word "terror" so repeatedly. But we're also struck by the paper's self-righteousness implying that "terror" happens to journalists while "militancy" happens to Israelis.
Approaching Critical Mass
Tensions between Hamas and the Dughmush clan holding Alan Johnston are approaching critical mass after clan member Munir Dughmush was shot and killed. The Jerusalem Post's Khaled Abu Toameh writes:
Following the incident, foreign journalists were advised to stay away from the Gaza Strip for fear of reprisal.
Hamas militiamen have been surrounding the homes of members of the Dughmush clan in Gaza City's Sabra neighborhood since Saturday, demanding that the clan release Johnston. Hamas has issued an ultimatum to the clan to release the BBC correspondent by next Monday or face a massive attack.
Jeremy Bowen's Dazzling Verbal Gymnastics
I felt hopeful after seeing AP and the NY Times use the "T-word" earlier today. But when Mahmoud Abbas himself called Hamas 'terrorists," BBC bureau chief Jeremy Bowen responded with a dazzling display of verbal gymnastics:
"There is no dialogue with those murderous terrorists," Mr Abbas said, referring to Hamas militants.
Houston, We Have a Problem
The UN Human Rights Council voted to make Israel a permanent agenda item, while dropping investigations of Cuba and Belarus. So I'm scratching my head over this Houston Chronicle headline:
U.N. rights council adopts reforms
The Nutty Professor
Looking at Gaza-turned-Hamastan, Professor Saree Makdisi once again calls for a single-state solution. Mahmoud Abbas' rapidly fading influence and Hamas' penchant for settling scores makes Makdisi's commentary a tough sell. The nutty UCLA professor gets credit for persistence.
The Gray Lady Discovers Terror
The NY Times discovered "terror." And the victims are Israeli:
A green Hamas flag flies over the building, a tourist site for Hamas members and their families. Um Omran came to see where her son had been tortured. She said he was killed in 2003 by Fatah. Her husband’s brother had also been held there. He was Adnan al-Ghul, the man credited with inventing the first Qassam rocket in 2001, a weapon that Hamas has used to terrorize Israeli cities like Sderot. He was killed by the Israelis in 2004.
First AP today, now the Times. With the Palestinians literally terrorized by their own people, is the MSM starting to acknowledge the T-word?
AP Discovers Terror
AP discovers "terror." At least the word applies to Hamas and Fatah's Palestinian victims:
In the latest violence, however, the hospital became part of the conflict. Gunmen took positions on the hospital's rooftops and surrounding towers. Militants fired at each other inside the facility, terrorizing patients and doctors alike.
Air Wave Free-For-All
The Maan News Agency went so far as to demand the halting of live transmissions from Gaza. Here's the surprising reason why:
From a professional point of view, as long as there are open transmissions on air for every angry rival to say whatever he likes, the situation will remain tense and the wound will remain open. We will watch as children lose their appetite for food and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip remain hostages to what is being heard on the open TV stations, rather than what is in the public interest.
Also professionally speaking, the Palestinian minister of information must intervene and demand live transmissions are halted immediately, because they can only escalate the situation since they are conducted spontaneously and without experience.
We could faint hearing about the 'treacherous trend' on Al-Aqsa TV station (the Hamas-affiliated TV station) and the description of unverified news from the Gaza Strip described by unanonymous callers to Palestine TV (state-run Fatah-affiliated TV station).
Imagine the Headlines
Haaretz reports that Hamas fired on a group of 1,000 peaceful protesters marching through Gaza City. Tom Gross comments:
If Israelis machine-gunned protesters at a peaceful demonstration, I think we can safely say that the BBC, New York Times, and others would cover it in a major way.
(Hat tip: Soccer Dad)
IBA Wins Reprieve, But For How Long?
Looks like the Israel Broadcasting Authority's English language newscasts will remain on the air. Watch the TV or listen to the radio online. But the Jerusalem Post writes that the reprieve may be brief for political and bureaucratic reasons:
... the whole merry-go-round could start all over again as it has done in the past.
BBC's All-Out Apology
The BBC apologizes for its Israel coverage? See HonestReporting's latest commuique: BBC's All-Out Apology
Qassams struck a factory where hazardous chemicals are stored. According to YNet News, firefighters successfully contained a gas leak of caustic soda.
Benny Morris vs. Ronnie Kasrils
In the Cape Times, historian Benny Morris threw down the gauntlet to South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils. The South African Minister of Information's choice criticisms attacked not just Israel, but Judaism too. Its Almost Supernatural explains why Morris was really forced to get involved:
The irony is that Kasrils has relied heavily on selective and out-of-context quotes from Benny Morris’ work to support his anti-Israel crusade.
If you're not registered with the Cape Times, read Morris' reply here instead.
A Pawn In Peril
Gaza’s new Hamas overlords and Alan Johnston's captors are playing brinkmanship over the BBC correspondent's life. The Daily Mail writes:
No one should be fooled by the apparent humanitarian concerns voiced by Hamas.
After a week of extraordinary and terrible events in Gaza and the West Bank, Mr Johnston would now appear to be the pawn in a potentially murderous battle for advantage between two ruthless groups of Palestinian gunmen.
Money, political status, military supremacy, propaganda points and survival are what is really at stake....
The word on the streets of Gaza is that cornered by Hamas, Mumtaz Dagmoush has nothing to lose now.
Here's a roundup of Hamas/Gaza reports not to be overlooked:
* The Jerusalem Post, AP and WorldNetDaily reports 1 and 2 all spotlight Gaza's Christians living in fear. Meanwhile, the Toronto Star observes that Christian communities across the Mideast are also waning.
* The Daily Telegraph notes that Palestinian civil war casualties are being treated in Israeli hospitals.
* See the Washington Post, where Aaron David Miller and Robert Malley debunk the idea of "West Bank First."
* AP examines Hamas' ongoing Islamification of school curriculum.
* Mark MacKinnon of the Globe & Mail reports that Hamas planned its takeover months ago.
* Last but not least, Palestinian gunmen succeeded where websites like this did not: Yasser Arafat was finally "deprized" of his Nobel Peace award. The irony bowls over LA Times columnist Jonah Goldberg.
Backspin Unspun: Eye For "I"
Vacation's over and I'm back online catching up on news and emails. I appreciate Dov Smith of HonestReporting Canada and editor of the Headlines & Deadlines blog for keeping Backspin's fires stoked in my absence.
When I announced on June 6 that Dov would be guest-blogging, one reader's comment noted my use of first-person singular, without identifying myself. A fair question.
My name is Pesach Benson, and I'm HonestReporting's senior researcher and analyst. I joined the HR staff in 2001, began writing for Backspin in 2004, and became blog editor in 2005. Although there are no co-bloggers, I exclusively used first-person plural "we" because Backspin is the official blog of HonestReporting.
So "I" wasn't relevant--until a few days ago when I wanted to let readers know I'd be away. Bottom line: "I" may occasionally appear in future posts.
See thumbnail bios of the HR team (including yours truly).
Movie: "What Really Happened" In The Middle East
The Terrorism Awareness Project has released a powerful 10-minute documentary about the origins and continuing causes of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Watch it here.
The Terrorism Awareness Project is a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which publishes FrontPage Magazine, an online journal of news and political commentary.
Gaza: The "Blame Israel Syndrome"
Some UK media is determined to absolve Palestinians of responsibility for the brutal Hamas takeover of Gaza. Read more at HonestReporting UK's latest communique: Gaza: The "Blame Israel Syndrome"
Worth Watching: Dershowitz Debates Boycott Leader
Earlier this week, Britain's Channel 4 News hosted a brief debate between Tom Hickey, a Brighton University lecturer who proposed a British academic union boycott of Israeli universities, and Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, who is mobilizing opposition to the proposed boycott.
Watch the sparks fly here.
BBC Sorry For Calling Jerusalem Israel's Capital
"The BBC apologized this week for referring to Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and promised not to repeat 'the mistake,' following a complaint by four British organizations," reports Jpost.
Arab Media Watch, Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Friends of Al-Aksa and the Institute of Islamic Political Thought sent a joint complaint to the BBC after a presenter on its Football Focus program mentioned that Jerusalem was Israel's capital and "historic soul."
In addition to posting a correction on the BBC website, Fraser Steel, head of editorial complaints at the BBC, wrote in a letter to the complaining NGOs:
"We of course accept that the international community does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and that the BBC should not describe it as such. [Presenter] Steve Boulton and other senior managers in BBC Sport told us they very much regret the mistake and apologize for it. Senior managers will try to ensure, as you suggest, that the mistake is not repeated... I'd like to add my apologies for this most regrettable, but I'm sure accidental, factual mistake. I appreciate that the status of Jerusalem is of particular concern to Palestinians, and it is important that it is not misrepresented.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said in response:
"Jerusalem is Israel's capital. It is the right of every sovereign state to determine which city will be its capital. If this is not accepted by everyone today, I am confident it will be in the future."
Recommended Viewing: Michael Oren Describes Causes Of 1967 War
If you want to know more about what caused the 1967 Six Day War but are too lazy to read about it, watch Michael Oren's fascinating lecture, delivered at the Shalem Center's Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem, and available for free viewing online.
For those who don't remember, Oren literally wrote the book on the Six Day War, a best-seller that instantly became the definitive history of the war.
Watch Oren's presentation online here. To watch additional Shalem Center lectures online, including talks by Natan Sharansky, former IDF chief Moshe (Boogie) Ya'alon, Martin Kramer and Yossi Klein Halevi, go here.
Tom Gross: Media Underplaying Gaza Story
Are the international news media paying less attention to the violence in Gaza than they would if Israel were involved? Mideast media analyst Tom Gross thinks so, and he lists developments that many readers may not have seen on their local newscast. For example:
- Three Palestinians were shot dead in Beit Hanoun Hospital in northern Gaza. These include Fatah leader Jamal Abu al-Jedian, who was shot 41 times in his hospital bed.
- Hamas gunmen attacked the home of a Fatah security official with mortars and grenades. Not finding him at home, they instead executed his 14-year-old son and three women inside.
- Two Palestinians who worked for a UN agency in Gaza have been executed, a UN spokesman said.
Bad Day for Names
It seems no one can get names right today.
First, the Associated Press referred to newly-elected Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak as "former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert."
Then, Ynet referred to newly-elected Israeli President Shimon Peres as "Shimon President." We think that's catchy, and we hope it sticks.
Palestinian Terrorists: Abusing Freedom of the Press
Terrorists launch attack across the Israel-Gaza border in a vehicle disguised as a TV truck. See the latest HonestReporting communique: Palestinian Terrorists: Abusing Freedom of the Press
UK Minister: British Media Not Anti-Israel
Are British media fair when it comes to talking about Israel? According to British Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell, media in the UK are "more balanced" than Israeli critics claim. Rammell told Jpost that while Britons do "not always" get a fair picture, "we've got a media in Britain that is open, that does try to present in most cases, not all, all sides of the argument."
Rammell, who expressed the British government's opposition to the University and Colleges Union (UCU) boycott initiative against Israel, remarked that "virtually every editorial in a [British] newspaper in the last two weeks has condemned the union in very, very robust terms."
To learn more about British media coverage of Israel, vist HonestReporting UK.
Finkelstein: A Fraudulent "Academic"
The Independent and Guardian report on the denial of tenure for Norman Finkelstein. Read more at HonestReporting UK's latest communique: Finkelstein: A Fraudulent "Academic"
BBC: Masters of Understatement
The BBC reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is "shocked and dismayed" by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent comments about Israel. The official Iranian news agency recently quoted Ahmadinejad as saying:
"The hegemony of the occupier regime [Israel] had collapsed, and the Lebanese nation pushed the button to begin counting the days until the destruction of the Zionist regime. God willing, in the near future we will witness the destruction of the corrupt occupier regime."
Most interesting about this report is how the BBC describes Ahmadinejad's genocidal language:
"The Iranian leader is a outspoken critic of Israel and has said the Holocaust of European Jewry is a myth."
Ahmadinejad has labeled Israel "a disgraceful stain on the Islamic world," called for it to be "eliminated from the pages of history," predicted it will be "wiped out," and hosted a "World Without Zionism" conference to drive the point home. At a meeting of Muslim leaders last year, he declared that the "main solution" to the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah is "the elimination of the Zionist regime."
"Outspoken critic" indeed. If he keeps this up, the Beeb might have to upgrade him to "opinionated castigator."
TV Terror Truck
Almost a year since the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, a repeat attempt by Palestinian terrorists during an assault on an IDF position at the Kissufim crossing between Gaza and Israel on Saturday strangely failed to make international headlines. It did, however, raise alarm bells amongst the international (and Palestinian) press due to the gunmen's use of a vehicle disguised as a television truck to stage their assault. As the JPost reports:
In Saturday's attack, four gunmen drove a white jeep with press markings in English and Arabic up to the Gaza-Israel border, penetrated the border fence and assaulted a guard tower in what Islamic Jihad and the army said was a failed attempt to capture an Israeli soldier. IDF troops killed one gunman, while the others escaped.
The attackers, from Islamic Jihad and the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, abandoned the jeep. AP photographs show a white armored vehicle of a type used by reporters, its windshield pocked by bullet holes, bearing red markings reading "TV" and "Press."
The FPA [Foreign Press Association] in its statement declared that it condemns the use of a vehicle marked with TV insignia in an attack against IDF positions in Kissufim.
"Armored vehicles marked with TV are an invaluable protection for genuine journalists working in hostile environments," the statement said. "The FPA has long campaigned for the continued availability of armored vehicles for its members, despite official opposition in some quarters. The abuse of this recognized protection for the working journalist is a grave development and we condemn those that carried it out. Such an incident will reduce the protection offered by marked vehicles."
The FPA pledged to continue to campaign for the legitimate use of these vehicles for its members, a job which it believes has been made more complicated by Saturday's incident.
The foreign media faces enormous dangers reporting from the Palestinian areas (as Alan Johnston found out to his cost) in stark contrast to Israel, which allows freedom of movement for journalists, often to its own detriment. It looks like Palestinian terrorist groups are fully prepared to take advantage of Israel's respect for freedom of the press.