Israel airstrike kills 1 Gaza militant – deconstructed

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip* [March 29, 2011] — An Israeli aircraft attacked a pair of Palestinian militants* riding on a motorcycle in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, killing one and wounding the other, the Islamic Jihad group said.

1. Although the dateline says that the story was filed from Gaza City, it is highly unlikely that it was actually written there. Most likely a reporter in Gaza phoned information to AP’s control bureau in Israel, where this story was written – probably by an Israeli journalist.

2. The writer chose to call the victims “militants.” However, another, probably more historically accurate term for Palestinian fighters against Israel would be something like “members of the Palestinian resistance.” While such phraseology might seem odd to people used to US/AP news coverage, it is actually closer to the phraseology used in other conflicts.

The Israeli military said it had “targeted and hit a terrorist squad” that had launched rockets toward southern Israel the previous day. The military said the air force carried out an additional airstrike overnight that hit a smuggling tunnel in southern Gaza.*

1. Notice that the story gives the Israeli military’s claims without any additional context.

2. For example, it doesn’t explain that the “smuggling tunnels” are used to bring in diverse goods to Gaza’s 1.5 billion men, women, and children, who have suffered from immense deprivation of medicines, building supplies, food stuffs, etc. due to Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

3. It doesn’t tell that the Israeli military is the fourth strongest military in the region, supplied with the best tanks, weaponry, and fighter jets that American tax money can buy, while Palestinian resistance fighters usually have little more than home-made rockets.

4. It doesn’t report that the “aircraft” was an unmanned drone.

5. It doesn’t report that Israeli forces have killed thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children since 2000.

Islamic Jihad said the men were on their way to a nearby mosque to pray.* The Iranian-backed* group, which has killed scores of Israelis* in rocket attacks* and suicide bombings*, vowed revenge.*

1. In a less Israeli-centric report the statement that the men were on their way to pray would have been placed far higher in the story.

2. The group may or may not be backed by Iran. This speculation has yet to be confirmed. Yet, here AP reports it as fact.

3. Notice that AP, which ignored the thousands of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, does report on the “scores” of Israelis killed by Islamic Jihad.

4. Rocket attacks have killed approximately 20 Israelis in total. Why is this fact never in AP stories?

5. The last suicide bombing by Islamic Jihad was four years ago, it killed three Israelis.

6. AP frequently reports Palestinians vowing “revenge.” It virtually never describes grieving Palestinian widows, wives, children, mothers, fathers of the fallen. Conversely, it describes all these for the far rarer Israeli victims; yet, it almost never reports their vows to kill more Palestinians.

Israel invaded Gaza, which is ruled by* the Hamas militants*, more than two years ago, in a fierce* offensive meant to end years of rocket fire*.

1. Hamas was elected in fair elections. Some Christians ran on the Hamas ticket.

2. Again, the use of the derogatory, Israeli-centric term “militant,” rather than a more normal desgination, such as “resistance movement.”

3. What AP calls a “fierce offensive,” much of the world called a massacre.

4. The rocket fire had largely stopped in the truce that began in June… Israel violated the truce three times, killing at least seven Palestinians; the rocket fire only began after that. Moreover, there is evidence that the invasion had been long planned and was merely awaiting a pretext. Finally, Israeli invasions preceded rocket attacks. The rocket launchings only began after Israeli forces had invaded and shelled Gaza, killing and maiming masses of people.

The operation inflicted heavy losses on Hamas* and brought about a period of relative quiet*, but Israel believes the group has recovered and restocked its arsenal with even more powerful weapons*.

1. Most of the victims were civilians, including hundreds of children.

2. For AP “relative quiet” means that Israelis have not died. In realilty, numerous Palestinians have been killed since that time.

3. AP says “ever more powerful weapons.” In reality, the weaponry of Palestinian resistance groups would never be called “powerful,” and largely consisted of home-made rockets launched out of the besieged, poverty stricken strip. Now some have acquired real rockets with longer range. They are still far from powerful, particularly when compared to the Israeli arsenal: nuclear weapons, F-16s, tanks, drones, etc.

Recently, there has been an escalation of violence* along the Gaza-Israel border. Both sides have indicated they do not want a repeat of the winter 2009 war* in Gaza.

1.The violence largely consists of almost daily Israeli invasions of Gazan territory and Israel declaring large swaths of farmland a “closed military zone,” creating extreme hardship for farmers whose subsistence comes from that land, and Israeli forces shooting farmers and nonviolent protesters who enter the area. Palestinian resistance fighters try to fight back, some using rockets.

There is no mention in the story that this was the the sixth member of Islamic Jihad to be killed by Israeli forces in the last ten days; no Israelis have been killed or even wounded.

2. The 2009 violence was hardly a “war.” Israeli forces killed 1400 Gazans; Gazans killed 9 Israelis (4 more were killed by Israeli “friendly fire.”)

3. There is no mention that the other victim of the Israeli strike is in critical condition.

4. There is no personal information about either victim; no mention that the one killed was 24 years old. If he had been an opponent of China or Libya, he would be reported as a hero.

5. There is no mention that a high proportion of Gaza’s residents are refugees ethnically cleansed by Israel in its 1948 war to create a Jewish-only state.

To see how this incident was reported elsewhere view Ma’an News, IMEMC, Al Jazeera, and AFP.

To see other newsworthy incidents that occurred during the same period see The Missing Headlines.

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  1. Pingback: Deconstructing the pro-Israeli reporting by the Associated Press | Dark Politricks