Thursday 18 June 2015

"From the decrepit heart of a half-destroyed city in a besieged and blockaded enclave..."

Today's From Our Own Correspondent featured another report from Gaza. 

This one came courtesy of the BBC's Roger Hearing.

Katie Adie's introduction ran as follows: 
It's nearly a year now since Israeli forces launched air and ground attacks on Gaza, in response, they said, to a series a rocket attacks launched from inside the Palestinian territory. More than 2,000 people were killed in the conflict and many homes and business properties in Gaza were damaged or destroyed. Rebuilding started some after a ceasefire was announced last August but progress has been slow. A blockade on the territory, imposed by Israel, has delayed the arrival of construction materials. Roger Hearing has been to see how one business has carried on, despite the difficulties.
We were introduced to a plucky Gazan businessman, Ashraf, who (in Roger Hearing's account) brings joy to the children of Gaza with his wonderful ice creams.

These are giggling children who play amid "the apocalyptic destruction you do see in parts of [Gaza City] from last year's war", children who don't know the kind of "safe normality" usually associated with long beaches and ice creams. 

Ashraf is proud of his shiny Italian gelato machines, but the suspicious Israelis made it hard for him when he tried to import them, thinking they might have "some other more threatening purpose". [Given the amount of weaponry that gets smuggled into Gaza from Iran and other places, who can blame them? - well, Roger Hearing, it seems.]

Some of the parts from those machines probably came through tunnels:
It's likely at least some of the machines were hauled through the tunnels under the border with Egypt, until that smuggling operation was closed down a few months back. Now that's a strange image: young men in pitch darkness sweating to drag huge boxes through rickety holes in the sand, and all so that Gazans could eat fine ice cream.
[If those tunnels had any sinister connotations - Hamas terror attacks, smuggling of missile parts, etc, Roger certainly wasn't saying].

Ashraf's 1950s American-style cafe looks colourful and bright, and he's right to be proud of it, said Roger [jauntily] "but [changing to a much less jaunty voice] grey and grim reality is never far away":
Almost directly opposite, across the road, is the wreckage of an apartment block demolished by an Israeli missile last August.
It took out all the cafe's windows, but [jaunty voice fully resumed] plucky Ashraf's cafe was soon re-opened.

And what about Hamas, "the hardline Islamists who run the Gaza Strip"? Well [jaunty voice continuing], they may ban men from wearing low-slung jeans [how nasty is that?], said Roger, but Ghazi Hamad, deputy foreign minister for Hamas, says Ashraf's American-style ice creams are "very nice" [which makes Ghazi Hamad sound rather nice].

All of this was building toward Roger Hearing's grand peroration, delivered with all the theatricality of a BBC reporter/presenter:
And I have to say - and this is one of the oddest things:  From the decrepit heart of a half-destroyed city in a besieged and blockaded enclave, sometimes described as the biggest open air prison in the world, comes the best ice cream I've ever tasted!
This report was almost a self-caricature of a biased BBC report from Gaza, wasn't it?


  1. In answer to your question: yes!

    It was missing only the lone teddy bear in the rubble.

  2. I hope none of the parts of that ice cream machine were made in Israel......

    BBC groupthink: Gaza is larger than North Korea, and more of a prison. Netanyahu is worse than the Kim dynasty.

  3. "Rubble, rubble... my Pulitzer for more rubble!"

    (Apols to Dick 3)

  4. " they said" , says it all really !

    1. Quite. It's always interesting to think what our response would be if we had rockets being fired at our cities from 20 or 50 miles away in say France, from a pocket of territory controlled by a gang of ideologues who are sworn to the destruction of the UK...

    2. And what if one of the biggest foreign broadcasters implied that we were lying about it ? !!

    3. Kate Adie laid a strong, sceptical emphasis on that "they said" too, Grant. It was something no listener could have failed to pick up on.

  5. The BBC have allowed themselves to be completely conned by Hamas's abuse of their own people. Hamas uses the people there as merely a propaganda tool for visitors to see their poverty instead of helping them. And they do have the means to do so!. See
    EoZ blog: "I wrote earlier this week that Gaza's Shujaiyeh neighborhood is being kept filled with rubble - and its residents kept homeless - because of the propaganda value of having foreign dignitaries and journalists go through the neighbourhood and seeing the destruction. …even though tens of thousands of families have been fully supplied with construction materials to rebuild, seemingly no one in Shujaiyeh is rebuilding, and nine months after the war the rubble is still in place - despite the fact that rubble is worth money for entrepreneurs who can recycle it.”



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