« September 2006 |
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Seale of Disapproval
The International Herald Tribune publishes Patrick Seale's one-sided diatribe against Israel. See HonestReporting's latest communique: Seale of Disapproval.
Journalists May Call Israel An Apartheid State
The UK Press Complaints Commission ruled that journalists can call Israel an apartheid state. That's how the PCC responded to a complaint filed by our colleagues at CAMERA over a two-part report by The Guardian's Chris McGreal. The paper's reader rep, Ian Mayes, further dismissed CAMERA, saying:
In general, the methods employed by Camera seem to me to go beyond a reasonable call for accountability.
This is the same PCC that saw no problem with a cartoon of Ariel Sharon devouring Palestinian babies.
Qassam Casualty Count
The Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon released Qassam casualty figures. See YNet News for more details:
The numbers indicate that during the first nine and a half months of 2006, 202 people were hurt by Qassams, more than double of the 87 from last year.
Indie's Uranium Charges
Robert Fisk finds Israel guilty before the full facts are released. See HonestReporting UK's latest communique: Indie's Uranium Charges.
Photo-Ops Are Childs Play
AP and Reuters photographers attended the same Hamas rally in Hebron and captured nearly identical images of the same masked boy holding a toy gun. The difference lies in what one caption says and the other omits:
The Reuters caption:
A masked Palestinian boy holds a toy gun during a rally in support of the Palestinian Hamas government in the West bank city of Hebron, October 27, 2006. (Stringer/Reuters)
The AP caption:
A boy wears a face mask made from an Islamic flag and holds an toy rifle with live rounds attached to it, as he poses for the photographers, during a rally of thousands of Hamas supporters in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Friday Oct. 27, 2006.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
The Boston Globe reports that Hezbollah is trying to seize more political power in Lebanon:
Now, Hezbollah and an allied Christian political party led by General Michel Aoun are demanding a government reshuffle that would give them more positions -- and would in effect give Hezbollah veto power over any legislation. They have threatened to boycott the government or try to bring it down through strikes and street demonstrations if they don't get more posts.
* In the Daily Telegraph, Tom Leonard blasts the UK license fee's support for biased BBC coverage.
* For the first time, Hamas acknowledged that one of it's own died when a smuggling tunnel collapsed. See AP/Jerusalem Post coverage.
A BBC exec told the Sunday Telegraph that the news service wouldn't rule out the possibility of a Muslim news presenter wearing a veil:
Asked specifically about the issue of a Muslim newsreader wearing a veil, he said: "The key is, if it does not hamper our primary obligation to deliver the news and information to our viewers and listeners then we would be respectful of that.
The appropriateness of what reporters wear while working isn't always clear cut. Current and previous kerfuffles involve journalists wearing a Jewish kippa, a Christian cross, a scarf, a US flag pin, sunglasses, a Chicago Bears shirt, even pajamas. Where to draw the line? Post your comments.
Seale's Shrill: Bloody Murder
In the International Herald-Tribune, Patrick Seale (pictured) looks at IDF security operations in Gaza and screams bloody murder:
The killing continues on a daily basis - by tank and sniper fire, by air and sea bombardment, and by undercover teams in civilian clothes sent into Arab territory to ambush and murder, an Israeli specialty perfected over the past several decades.
How long will the "international community" allow the slaughter to continue? The cruel repression of the occupied territories, and of Gaza in particular, is one of the most scandalous in the world today. It is the blackest stain on Israel's patchy record as a would-be democratic state....
The situation is all the more urgent because, according to reports from Israel, something bigger and still more lethal is in prospect. Fresh from the indiscriminate slaughter they unleashed on Lebanon this summer - and no doubt eager to efface the memory of that fiasco - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and the chief of staff, General Dan Halutz, are said to be about to mount a military offensive against Gaza, on a far larger scale than the bombardments and armored incursions of recent months.
Seale, lately known for hobnobbing with Hamas and Hezbollah, doesn't so much as acknowledge Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip, or that the Palestinians are responsible for Gaza's sorry state of affairs. Since 2005, more Palestinians were killed by other Palestinians than by Israel.
Home Improvement, Hezbollah Style
The Washington Times details the mind-boggling extent Hezbollah went to hide among civilians:
Long before hostilities erupted on July 12, Hezbollah construction teams had gone out and modified numerous Lebanese homes. Sometimes with, but most the time without, the homeowner's permission, workers began adding on a large, single-function room. These rooms were unique for, when completed, they lacked an essential element of all rooms -- a door. Each room was sealed shut -- but only, and immediately, after an object was placed inside.
Often homeowners and neighbors did not know what exactly was entombed within the room as the object's insertion and the subsequent sealing of the room normally took place at night -- with the object always kept under wraps....
When war erupted in southern Lebanon, designated leaders of Hezbollah combat teams received envelopes, each containing an address of one of the modified homes. The team quickly deployed to its assigned location, immediately breaking through an exterior wall of the sealed room. Each envelope contained aiming and firing instructions for the object prepositioned inside the room before it was sealed -- a surface-to-surface missile atop a launcher. After removing part of the room's roof to allow for unobstructed flight and on command, the team was to fire the missile, raining death and destruction down upon Israel's civilian population.
No wonder Hezbollah's taking the lead in rebuilding Lebanese homes.
BBC Editor: We're Out of Touch
Is the BBC's culture of political correctness cracking? The Evening Standard reports a startlingly frank confession from one of the editors:
BBC commissioning editor for documentaries Richard Klein admitted the broadcaster was out of touch with the British public, saying it was guilty of "ignoring" mainstream opinion.
Speaking to a room full of TV viewers and BBC staff, he suggested that if the current situation continued it could affect the organisation's long-term future.
Klein said: "By and large, people who work at the BBC think the same and it's not the way the audience thinks. That's not long term sustainable."
"We pride ourselves on being 'of the people', and it's pathetic....."
Klein, who made his views known at an "audience festival" organised by the BBC last week to find out what its viewers think, admitted that the BBC's liberal internal culture did not match that of the wider British public.
He said: "Most people at the BBC don't live lives like this, but these are our licence payers. It's our job to reflect and engage."
Klein's mea culpa comes on the heels of an "impartiality summit" the BBC didn't want leaked to the public.
Don't Leave Home Without It
In the Northern Star of Northern Illinois U., Alex Ketay offers the most cogent defense of Israeli restrictions on travel visas for Arab-Americans:
CNN.com's recent headline, "U.S. to Israel: Ease up on Arab-Americans," caught my eye. According to the report published on Oct. 19, the U.S. Department of State made a complaint to the Israeli government in regard to its treatment of Arab-Americans that were traveling to Palestine. While fair treatment of American citizens is a concern, how can we be sure that these people are not a security threat? The fact is we don't know, and neither does Israel.
Take, for example, the tragic case of Rachel Corrie. According to an initial report from honestreporting.com, she was an American college student and peace activist recruited by the International Solidarity Movement to actively stand against Israel's demolition of the Rafah area. Before her trip to Israel, she was already passionately anti-American and anti-Israel. In fact, one of her most notorious pictures is one of her burning an American flag.
Her trip to the Gaza Strip in March 2003 proved to be fatal. According to information found on honestreporting.com, she was crushed by an Israel Defense Forces bulldozer.
While Corrie was not an Arab, she was an American who went to Israel to actively disrupt Israeli anti-terrorist operations. Perhaps if rules were stricter, she wouldn't have met an untimely death.
UPDATE Oct. 29: The Daily Telegraph reports Israel is backing down in the face of US pressure.
The French Al-Dura court case ends in defeat for Philippe Karsenty. See HonestReporting's latest communique, French Injustice.
Kidnapped Journalist Released
Emilio Morenatti, the kidnapped AP photographer was freed by his captors.
Another Journalist Kidnapped
AP reports that one of it's photographers, Emilio Morenatti, was kidnapped in Gaza today. So far, nobody has claimed responsibility for abducting the 37-year-old Spanish national. Developing.....
The ABC of Objectivity
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. is facing up to bias in coverage. And the Australian Jewish News reports that Israel's supporters down under are cautiously optimistic.
Protecting the Fourth Estate
Philippe Karsenty isn't the only person having a headache with the French media and justice establishment. France's Supreme Court struck down a lower court's ruling that a commentary published by Le Monde in June, 2003 defamed Israel (read a translation of Edgar Morin's article here).
In May, 2005, a lower court ordered Le Monde to print a retraction and pay a fine of one symbolic Euro. But the Irish Times reports that the Supreme Court ruled otherwise:
Judges must analyse the incriminated text in its context," the Supreme Court verdict said. By isolating two paragraphs from a much longer article expressing the authors' opinions on a highly polemical subject, the Versailles court had violated article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as French law.
"The text in reality targeted the policy of the government of Israel against Palestinians, and not individuals or groups of individuals because of their national or ethnic origin, their race or religion . . ." the Supreme Court concluded.
The Supreme Court justices bought into an old argument advanced by Morin's supporters that the article needs to be "contextualized."
Meanwhile, France 2 TV's next defamation suit, against Pierre Lurcat, begins this week....
Today's Recommended Reading
* Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick comments on France 2 TV's defamation suit against Philippe Karsenty.
* A recent poll found that a whopping 32 percent of Palestinians would like to emigrate from the West Bank and Gaza. The Christian Science Monitor explains why:
The catalyst, the pollster says, has been Palestinian disillusionment following Hamas's half-year in government. "What the Israelis were unable to do - try to push the Palestinian out of the country - the internal strife is achieving," he says.
Even more telling, adds Said, is that the percentage surges to 44 percent among Palestinians in their 20s and 30s. Among young men, it surges beyond 50 percent.
* Reuters picked up on a campaign by Justice for Jews From Arab Countries to recognize the estimated 900,000 Jewish refugees who fled Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen since 1948. See this March, 2004 report in the San Francisco Chronicle for more background.
French Toasted Media
Is there a disconnect between media coverage of Mideast violence and ethnic violence in France? Michael Totten reacts to a sobering report in the Times of London.
See also The Augean Stables, where Ellen Horowitz ties in the Dura video trial to make a similar point:
Solomonia wonders if Lebanese fauxtography has left photojournalists in denial. Case in point: Tyler Hicks opened a discussion thread on Lightstalkers, a web site for photojournalists. See the posted comments and judge for yourself.
Should the shutterbugs be concerned about their credibility? You betcha.
Blacklisted Journalist Speaks Out
It's Almost Supernatural interviewed Paula Slier, one of several reporters, commentators and analysts blacklisted from the South African Broadcasting Corp. by news director Dr. Snuki Shikalala. See parts one and two of the Q&A. Reacting to Shikalala's free admission that he identifies with the Palestinian cause, Slier hits the nail on the head:
I think it is worrying that our public broadcaster is so strongly associated with the Palestinian struggle, but I think it would be as worrying if it was strongly associated with the actions of the State of Israel. The role of the SABC is to be impartial, to broadcast news as freely and objectively as is can, and to be vigilant about covering both sides of the conflict.
This, believe me, is not always easy, particularly regarding something as charged as the Middle East situation, but it is certainly not the role of Zikalala to start prescribing what view the public broadcaster should take re: the conflict.
UPDATE Oct. 22: Part three is now online.
Recovery's First Step: Admit the Problem
Top BBC News officials recently held what was supposed to be a secret "impartiality summit." An account of the summit leaked to the Daily Mail shows BBC News honchos admitting that their out of touch political correctness has "gone too far":
It was the day that a host of BBC executives and star presenters admitted what critics have been telling them for years: the BBC is dominated by trendy, Left-leaning liberals who are biased against Christianity and in favour of multiculturalism.
A leaked account of an 'impartiality summit' called by BBC chairman Michael Grade, is certain to lead to a new row about the BBC and its reporting on key issues, especially concerning Muslims and the war on terror....
At the secret meeting in London last month, which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, BBC executives admitted the corporation is dominated by homosexuals and people from ethnic minorities, deliberately promotes multiculturalism, is anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians.
One veteran BBC executive said: 'There was widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness.
'Unfortunately, much of it is so deeply embedded in the BBC's culture, that it is very hard to change it.'
Is it any wonder the BBC's using public money to keep the Balen Report under wraps?
(Hat tip: Michelle Malkin)
French Failure Fisked
The French weekly, L'Express, managed to quote verbatim from the judge's ruling before the decision was publicly released. So Richard Landes fisked both the ruling and L'Express:
I remind readers that I do not have the judgment yet, so I cannot judge either the article or the Judges on the basis of any more than what’s written here. It may be that the language of this article has been cherry-picked to put Karsenty in a bad light. But harsh it is.
French Justice Fails
Nidra Poller reports from Paris that Philippe Karsenty was found liable and fined for "insulting" France-2 TV and reporter Charles Enderlin. Richard Landes comments that the verdict "somehow absolves Enderlin of all of his journalistic failings, failings that came out abundantly in court...."
UPDATE Oct. 20: See Poller's fuller report.
About Those Cluster Bombs
A Human Rights Watch report accuses Hezbollah of firing cluster bombs at civilians in northern Israel:
Hezbollah’s deployment of the Chinese-made Type-81 122mm rocket is also the first confirmed use of this particular model of cluster munition anywhere in the world. Human Rights Watch documented two Type-81 cluster strikes that took place on July 25 in the Galilee village of Mghar....
Each of the Type-81 cluster munition 122mm rockets used by Hezbollah carries 39 Type-90 or MZD submunitions. Each submunition in turn shoots out hundreds of steel spheres, about 3.5mm in diameter, with deadly force. Human Rights Watch discovered evidence of Hezbollah’s unprecedented use of this cluster munition in the course of ongoing investigations of the group’s attacks on northern Israel during the war that lasted from July 12 until August 14. Israeli authorities had until now prevented publication of details of Hezbollah cluster strikes in Israel, citing security concerns....
Police and army officials did not disclose to Human Rights Watch the estimated dud rate of the submunitions from the 113 cluster rockets that they said they had handled.
This is in addition to the ball bearings Hezbollah packed into other rockets.
Hamas TV Goes Global
Till now, Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV was only broadcast in Gaza, but this month, the station's scope will broaden to wider Arab audiences thanks to distribution agreements with Egyptian and Saudi state-owned satellite companies. In the Opinion Journal, Mark Dubowitz and Jonathan Snow call for a boycott of the station, which follows in the footsteps of Hezbollah's Al-Manar:
Al Aqsa TV routinely broadcasts Hamas leaders calling for jihad, songs of incitement to murder, and videos of Hamas gunmen. Just like Hamas newspapers, magazines, and websites, Al Aqsa programs typically feature splashy stories glorifying the actions of "martyrs" and assurances that through their sacrifices the "Zionist Entity" will be destroyed.
Children are specifically targeted. Hamas produces radio and television shows and publishes an online magazine geared at preteens. A recent issue of the magazine opens with a cartoon of a smiling child riding a rocket while the previous issue glorified suicide bombers and other "martyrs" in cartoons and poetry.
Hamas websites have been used to raise money for terrorist activities, both explicitly and under the guise of "humanitarian" aid. There have been reports, citing Israeli intelligence, that Hamas field coordinators have used Voice of Al Aqsa radio broadcasts to provide terrorists with exact coordinates and trajectories to fire Qassam rockets at Israeli targets.
Don't get us started on Al-Aqsa TV newscasts.....
When Cameramen Attack
A Reuters cameraman takes part in rock-throwing attacks against Israeli security forces. See HonestReporting's latest communique: When Cameramen Attack.
Playing For The Cameras
As if the manufactured dissent at Bil'in fence protests wasn't annoying enough, a Reuters cameraman is now remanded in prison for encouraging and directing Palestinian stone throwers. Israel National News explains:
On Tuesday, a Reuters cameraman was remanded to prison until trial for his part in rock-throwing attacks on security forces in Bil’in, where the separation fence is a constant target of protesters.
The cameraman, Imad Muhammad Intisar Boghnat, was arrested and charged as a result of violent riots in the Arab village of Bil’in, in the Modi’in region, on October 6, 2006. A videotape that the prosecution presented to the judge shows Boghnat encouraging and directing rioters in Bil’in to throw large chunks of rock at Israeli vehicles in such a way as to cause maximum damage. The accused is heard shouting, “Throw, throw!” and later, “Throw towards the little window!”
Bil'in protesters know a thing or two about playing for the cameras.
(Hat tip: National Review Media Blog)
New Mufti Approves Of Suicide Attacks
The new Grand Mufti of Jerusalem told The Media Line that acts of terror, including suicide attacks, are legitimate resistance against Israel. Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein (pictured), till now considered a moderate, was appointed to the position by Mahmoud Abbas. Watch the interview:
"It is the Palestinian people's right to engage in resistance until the occupation ends. As long as the resistance is legitimate, everything related to it is also legitimate."
Asked to express his view with regard to suicide bombing, the mufti answered: "It is legitimate, of course, as long as it plays a role in the resistance."
Abbas dismissed the previous mufti in July, Sheikh Ikrema Sabri, because his views were closer to Hamas. The MSM showed limited interest in Sabri's provocative sermons. What kind of scrutiny will Western news services give Hussein?
Islamic Jihad came up with a new way of making sure it gets "credited" for rocket attacks on Israel: they label their rockets in Hebrew. Reuters explains:
A Reuters photograph taken on Monday showed an Israeli policeman lifting the remains of a rocket fired from Gaza at southern Israel, with Hebrew lettering identifying it as an Al-Quds 3, a rocket made by Islamic Jihad militants.
Abu Abdullah, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad's armed wing, said the Hebrew language label was intended both to threaten Israelis and "distinguish its rockets from those of other factions" such as Hamas, whose rockets are more widely known.
Islamic Jihad is not the only Palestinian faction to sign off in Hebrew in a bid to compete with Hamas. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing of President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, has also begun doing so.
Here's the photo:
An Israeli explosives expert holds the remains of a rocket fired from Gaza that landed near the southern Israeli town of Sderot October 16, 2006. An intense rivalry among militant groups in the Gaza Strip has taken an odd twist with some gunmen labelling rockets they fire at Israel in Hebrew to make sure they are credited with the attacks. REUTERS/Amir Cohen (ISRAEL)
So the terrorists are branding their rockets for media consumption. When did statements faxed to news agencies become passe?
BBC: Something to Hide?
The BBC fights to prevent access to the Balen Report. See the latest HonestReporting UK critique: BBC: Something to Hide?
A Black And White Agenda Against Israel
The South African Broadcasting Corp. is in hot water with revelations of reporters, commentators and analysts blacklisted from appearing on news programs. The Mail & Guardian obtained a copy of an internal SABC report on the blacklist and posted it online. Among the banned personalities is Paula Slier, a freelance journalist blacklisted for her coverage of Israel.
SABC news director MD Dr Snuki Zikalala accused Slier of “taking sides” in the Mideast conflict and dismissed her as a “white, Jewish girl.” The blacklist report elaborates on Zikalala’s instructions to ban Slier:
5.38. De Zikalala elaborated about his giving an instruction not to use Paula Slier. It is important that his justification be quoted verbatim:
“Paula Slier, I’ll give you an example. Paula Slier, why I said we should not use Paula Slier. What happened is that during the time of when Arafat passed away, when Arafat passed away Paula Slier used to work for us as a journalist and Paula Slier was much more biased towards what’s happening in Israel. It was a Jewish war and especially the Middle East. We knew exactly her bias because she once wrote an article justifying the separation of the Palestinians, which was very, very negative towards us.
From the movement where I come from we support PLO. But she supported what’s happening in Israel. And then I said to them Paula Slier we cannot use her on the Middle East issue because we know where she stands. We need somebody who’s impartial. We do have a correspondent there, I said lets use the correspondent … that person is impartial, does not take sides. Paula Slier on the Middle East issue we can bring in all the tapes that she’s written, she takes sides. I’ve got that editorial responsibility to do that. That’s why I’m employed, to do checks and balance. I said no, you can’t you can’t undermine the Palestinian struggle, you can’t. for me it’s a principle issue.”
So SABC's news director put in writing that:
* Slier is banned because she is "negative to us."
* Where Zikalala comes from, "we support the PLO."
* SABC reporters "can't undermine the Palestinian issue."
Zikalala's agenda speaks for itself. Any news director with such an overt bias against Israel is just as capable of skewing other areas of coverage, as revealed by the Mail & Guardian.
(Hat tip: It’s Almost Supernatural)
Bird's Eye View
A new web site, Size Of Israel, puts the country's size and strategic depth into proper perspective. The site’s launch dovetails nicely with Ross Culiner’s account of an eye-opening helicopter ride over Israel.
Free Info or Info-Free?
Why is the BBC spending thousands of pounds in license fee money to block the public release of the Balen Report, an internal document examining the news service's Mideast coverage? The Sunday Telegraph writes:
The corporation is mounting a landmark High Court action to prevent the release of The Balen Report under the Freedom of Information Act, despite the fact that BBC reporters often use the Act to pursue their journalism.
The action will increase suspicions that the report, which is believed to run to 20,000 words, includes evidence of anti-Israeli bias in news programming.
HonestReporting's request for a copy of the report under the Freedom of Information Act was turned down, with the BBC writing to us and other interested parties:
The review, written in 2004 by Malcolm Balen a senior BBC journalist, is currently used by senior editors in BBC News to inform coverage of the Middle East. In our view, the Act does not apply to this document because the BBC holds this document and other Output Reviews for the purposes of "journalism, art or literature." Schedule 1 of the Act provides that the legislation only applies to information held for other purposes.
At least one of the BBC staff addressed the conundrum with some frankness. Martin Rosenbaum of Open Secrets, a blog about FOI issues, writes:
But what is interesting from the FOI perspective is that this is the latest in a series of Tribunal decisions which have overruled the Information Commissioner in the direction of being more favourable to the disclosure of information. This pattern was not widely expected prior to FOI coming into force, when it was generally predicted to be the other way around.
And now that people have started asking me whether I am a functional journalist or a strategic journalist, I have decided the safest thing to do is just look puzzled. That seems to work so far.
Immoral Nuclear Relativism
Sky News runs a feature on Israel's purported nuclear capabilities following North Korea's nuclear test. Is there any comparison between Israel and North Korea? Also, a photographer explains how the NYTimes changed his photo caption to create a false image during the Lebanon conflict. See HonestReporting's latest communique.
Blog On Break
We're on leave for the week of Sukkot, but we'll be back and blogging away on Oct. 15. We're struck by the thought of thousands Israelis in Haifa and the Galilee moving into booths after spending weeks in a bomb shelters this past summer.
No Excuses For Terror
David Aaronovitch and the BBC both come out with some worthwhile Mideast videos. See the latest HonestReporting UK critique: No Excuses For Terror.
It's the Qassams, Stupid
Someone please tell The Independent and John Dugard that the Palestinians continued firing Qassam rockets from Gaza after last year's disengagement.
'The Moment of Truth'
According to YNet News, Hamas is arming for a showdown with Fatah in the West Bank:
Hamas officials told Ynet that hundreds of automatic rifles have been smuggled into the West Bank to bolster the group's military presence there....
Efforts of rearmament are being overseen from Damascus by Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal who believes the group should be prepared for "the moment of truth" should President Abbas dare to dissolve parliament and declare new elections.
UPDATE Oct. 5: According to Reuters, Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah aren't twiddling thumbs either.
This oxymoronic headline indicates that the BBC is a wee bit confused by the Palestinian civil war:
Militants threaten Hamas leaders
CBC Success: You Made the Difference
HonestReporting-Canada scored some points with the CBC. After alerting readers to a one-sided interview with Lebanese terrorist Samir Quntar, readers responded. The results? The CBC followed up with an 11-minute report focusing on Smadar Haran Kaiser, the woman whose family Samir Qantar murdered. Watch the CBC's followup.
A 'Tetchy' Civil War
The weekend's big news is the civil war in Gaza. The Jerusalem Post reports street clashes, as well as Al-Aqsa Brigades threats to kill Hamas leaders. Though it is too soon to say whether the Western media will decry collateral damage to children and other criticisms reserved for Israel, the Daily Telegraph offered an alternative spin to the violence that has left nine dead and dozens injured:
The tension was made worse by the strictures of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, which Palestinians observe with strict fasting during daylight hours that makes many people particularly tetchy.