Reporting from Gaza is a tricky affair because reporters are severely punished for, well, reporting.
Melanie Phillips: A remarkable story has been published by the Associated Press. It reveals that, shortly after Sunday evening’s ceasefire between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza, Hamas — which rules Gaza but had chosen to sit out that conflict — issued a set of instructions for journalists there:
Palestinians who work with foreign journalists were first informed of the new rules earlier this week in messages sent by the Hamas-run Interior Ministry. They were ordered not to report on Gazans killed by misfired Palestinian rockets or the military capabilities of Palestinian armed groups, and were told to blame Israel for the recent escalation.
But protests by the Foreign Press Association prompted Hamas to rescind that edict, as it constitutes “a severe, unacceptable and unjustifiable restriction on the freedom of the press, as well as the safety of our colleagues in Gaza”
However, Melanie Phillips says
“.....rescinding the instruction hardly draws the sting. People in the west may not realise this, but journalists in Gaza only ever report what Hamas wants them to say. Gazan “stringers,” the local reporters upon whom western journalists rely to bring them information about what’s going on, conduct interviews with Gaza’s residents and act as western journalists’ guides and interpreters, know all too well that if they ever report what Hamas doesn’t want them to report they will be denied access or even that their lives will be in danger.”
Elder of Ziyon notes that:
“One of the criticisms of Israel when it comes to getting its side of the story out to the world is that it is just too slow, allowing the terrorists and Israel-haters plenty of time to get their version of things out and presented before the world audience. Israel just does not react quickly enough.
Not this time.
Now that Israel has demonstrated the ability to get its message across and reported in the media, what Israel needs is the ability to do this consistently.
Maybe it can even do a better job in presenting its side in the death of Abu Akleh.
Israel pushes back.
“… western media outlets stopped uncritically parroting Palestinian claims that Israel had caused the children’s deaths and started reporting the Israeli counter-claim, eventually conceding that some PIJ rockets had indeed fallen short into Gaza and probably caused Gazan casualties.”
“…..the malice of the western media towards Israel knows no bounds. But these journalists generally speak no Arabic; and no Palestinian would have told them about the missiles falling short because Hamas rules Gaza’s journalists with an iron fist. They will report nothing that conflicts with the Hamas narrative.
If there's a softening of hostility towards Israel it seems to be largely confined to the US. The BBC, though, is unlikely to budge.
One has to admire the ardour of Bowen’s Twitter and non Twitter followers who roughly fall into two camps: a) the Gullible and ill-informed, and b) Devout Arabists - for example our old friend Chris Doyle of CAABU. (See ITBB’s free-of-charge search engine.)
Licence fee payers who fund the BBC’s permanent bureau in the Gaza Strip may well be wondering why, unlike AP, the corporation did not send staff to visit the sites where those shortfall missiles had landed and whether that has anything to do with Hamas’ known practice of intimidating journalists.
“Palestinians who work with foreign journalists were first informed of the new rules earlier this week in messages sent by the Hamas-run Interior Ministry. They were ordered not to report on Gazans killed by misfired Palestinian rockets or the military capabilities of Palestinian armed groups, and were told to blame Israel for the recent escalation.”
If that is the reason why Yolande Knell and her colleagues could not “check the figures independently”, then BBC audiences should obviously be told so.
New role: I am now International Editor of BBC News. Will still do the Middle East, but after a year where I’ve spent a lot of time in Ukraine and Afghanistan, makes sense to look further afield.— Jeremy Bowen (@BowenBBC) August 11, 2022
Boo Hoo then. Bye Jeremy! Hamas is missing you already.