WHICH GROUP REPRESENTS MOST PALESTINIANS?

Not Al Fatah, the Palestinian Authority or the PLO, according to this journalist, who concludes that today it is Hamas as shown by their elections.  Israel, the West and Egypt tried to negate this decision by squeezing Gaza and bombarding it, where the IOF have no troops on the ground but failed so far.  In the West Bank, Israel was able to subvert the elections through the arrest of Hamas representatives elected and through recognising unelected bodies such as the PA.  Today Al Fatah is running a Prisoners’ hunger-strike.

D.Breatnach comments: Despite the Palestinians being a mostly secular one politically, they voted in Hamas because of the corruption and collusion of Al Fatah including its shameful agreement to the Oslo Accord 1 in 1993 as part of a whole swathe of “peace (sic) processes” which swept through South Africa and Ireland in the 1990s.  Observers of the reality of Irish politics will find this article of interest and will surely see some parallels.

Dr. Khalil al Hayyah, representing Hamas at a press conference today on the question of talks with Al Fatah.
(Photo source: Mohamed Asad, MEMO)

Motasem Al Dalloul, 13th February 2017.

The main Palestinian secular movement, Fatah, which dominates the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) accused regional powers on Sunday evening of supporting its Islamic rival Hamas to carry out a coup against the umbrella body and the Palestinian Authority which it controls. The reason given is that such regional powers are trying to ease, or lift, the Israeli-led, internationally-backed, siege on the Gaza Strip.

In several official press releases, Fatah named Turkey and Qatar. They claimed that these two countries are planning to help Hamas and its supporters in the occupied Palestinian territories and diaspora to supersede the PLO and the PA.

According to Fatah spokespeople, Turkey is hosting a pro-Hamas conference for Palestinians in the diaspora, the preparations for which are going ahead without the PLO’s knowledge. However, a spokesman for the organising committee, Ziad Al-Aloul, has said several times that PLO members are among the organisers.

Fatah has also accused Turkey of supporting a military coup against the PA in the Gaza Strip, which has been under siege for more than ten years, simply because the government in Ankara sent its minister of energy and other officials to conduct a study on how they can help to solve the electricity crisis in the coastal enclave. The accusation is really unbelievable, not least because the Turkish delegation met with PA officials in the West Bank before entering the Gaza Strip. In fact, Turkey has been cooperating with the PA in the West Bank regarding a fuel grant for Gaza’s sole electricity plant.

Qatar stands accused by Fatah of the doing the same thing as Turkey, possibly because it is the only international state which has faithfully fulfilled its pledges made during the International Donor Conference held in Cairo in the wake of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on Gaza. The conference aimed to collect donations to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

Since the Cairo conference, Qatar has rebuilt thousands of homes destroyed by the Israelis during the offensive, and built thousands of new homes for the poor and homeless in Gaza. On Saturday, the latest batch of Qatari-built properties were handed over officially by a representative of the Gulf State. Mohamed Al-Emadi also announced a commitment to build a new hospital in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

These are the Turkish and Qatari acts that Fatah, which dominates the PLO, apparently regards as illegitimate efforts to help Hamas to supersede the PLO and the PA. The movement has overlooked the simple fact that every single Turkish or Qatari donation for the Palestinians in Gaza is handed over to the beneficiaries either through the PA or directly from official Turkish and Qatari bodies working in the territory.

The latest remarks by Al-Emadi have complicated the situation even more for Fatah, the PLO and the PA, which are more or less considered to be the same body. He is the man responsible for the supervision of the reconstruction projects in Gaza. Qatari representative told the IsraeliWalla website that his country has offered to pay all of the costs needed to help solve the Gaza electricity crisis, but the leader of the PA, Fatah and the PLO, President Mahmoud Abbas, rejected Qatar’s offer. Fatah denied this and said that Al-Emadi and his government are working to support Hamas in Gaza; the movement cited the $100m grant for the new hospital in Rafah as “evidence”.

All of this leads me to wonder if the PLO and PA have any legitimacy any more. I am also wondering about Hamas’s role in the Gaza Strip.

Is the PLO the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people as claimed by the UN and Arab League in 1974? The Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories and the diaspora have never recognised the PLO as any such thing. The designation arose when the late Yasser Arafat went to the UN holding an olive branch in his hand. Both of these international bodies recognise Israel, which is a state built on about 78 per cent of historic Palestine; the Palestinians have been waiting for almost 70 years to fulfil their legal right to return to their land. In 1993, the Israeli occupation state also recognised the PLO as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people after signing the now notorious Oslo Accords.

Regarding Hamas, which swept Fatah — and thus the PLO and Ramallah-based PA — out of the Gaza Strip in 2007, having won the previous year’s elections, there has been no clear-cut evidence that it represents more than half of the Palestinians in occupied Palestine. Hamas refused to take part in the first Palestinian parliamentarian elections in 1996, when Fatah, its allies and a number of independent candidates won all the seats. However, in the following ten years, Hamas — whose roots in Gaza go back to the early 1970s and in the West Bank to the 1980s — won most of the elections for student councils and professional syndicates in both territories.

It became very clear that Hamas is the real and legitimate representative of the Palestinians in the territories in 2006, when the Islamic movement achieved an overwhelming victory in the municipal and parliamentary elections in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Fatah, the PLO and the PA, as well as Israel, the UN and the Arab League, have always refused to recognise the subsequent Hamas-led Palestinian Authority which has been the de facto government in Gaza ever since.

Supported by Israel and backed by the most effective Arab states and the international community, Fatah, the PLO and the PA have tried to topple Hamas. They could do this in the West Bank, where Israel arrested most of the democratically-elected Hamas MPs and mayors, but in Gaza, where there is no Israeli existence on the ground, Hamas could sweep Fatah out and control the Palestinian institution.

Since then, the internal political division has been dominating the Palestinian political process. Hamas and Fatah have met together several times in various countries, but they have been unable to reconcile their differences. That is why, to all intents and purposes, the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas has been under a strict Israeli, Egyptian and international siege supported tacitly by the Fatah, PLO and PA.

As a result, any national or international effort to facilitate a better life for the Palestinians in Gaza is considered to be “aggression” against Fatah, the PA and the PLO from their point of view. Such is the involvement of the secular Fatah in the stranglehold on Gaza that Qatar’s Al-Emadi, during his current visit to the Strip, said that the construction of a seaport and an airport under international observers are still proposed as solutions for the Gaza crisis should Israel, the world and Fatah agree.

According to the Assistant Professor of US and Middle East History at Syracuse University, Osama Khalil, in a four-year-old study, the PLO is a “shield and a cudgel against internal and external foes and competitors.” He added: “What remains of the PLO today — its name, its international status, and the few vestiges of its bureaucratic institutions, offices, and titles — have and continue to be used by a small, unelected, and unrepresentative clique to further their own agendas.”

It is fairly obvious to most reasonable people, therefore, that the PLO has little, if any, claim to be the “sole, legitimate representative” of the Palestinian people. Its leaders appear to be representing the interests of nobody but themselves.

Link to the article in MEMO — Middle East Monitor: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170213-is-the-plo-still-the-sole-legitimate-representative-of-the-palestinians/

 

 

COLOURS OF STRUGGLE

Diarmuid Breatnach

Information picket (with table across the road) organized by Anti-Internment Group of Ireland in September 2014 at Thomas St./ Meath St. junction, Dublin. They returned there in December and in January supported a picket in Cork, handing out leaflets on the Craigavon Two injustice.

Information picket (with table across the road) organized by Anti-Internment Group of Ireland in September 2014 at Thomas St./ Meath St. junction, Dublin.

MEP maybe Kobane Rally London

Palestinian and Kurdish flags at a Kobane solidarity rally in Trafalgar Square, London in 2014. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flag of the ICA, flown over Murphy's Imperial Hotel in 1916

The flag of the ICA, flown over Murphy’s Imperial Hotel in 1916

 

 

 

 

I’m no shade of green,

though neath such flags I’ve oft times been,

and ‘neath the Plough in Gold on Green,

and some years back

Also the black,

aye and the red-and-black;

or Palestinian red and black and white and green,

c-n-mb-irish-republic-tricolour-flags-crowd-gpo-copy

Cumann na mBan, “Irish Republic” and Tricolour flags displayed at Dublin’s GPO by Moore Street campaign supporters. (Phoro: D. Breatnach?)

Or the Basque crosses white and green upon red …..

In solidarity I have flown all those flags I’ve said

But when all’s said and done —

though hard to choose just one —

from my heart and from my head:

I choose the workers’ Red.

Sept 2016

 

A number of the Basque flag, the Ikurrina, flying in Dublin during a solidarity protest. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

A number of the Basque flag, the Ikurrina, flying in Dublin during a solidarity protest. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

 

 

Anarcho-Sindicalist and Anarchist black flags (Photo source: Internet)

Anarcho-Sindicalist and Anarchist black flags
(Photo source: Internet)

bagladeshi-women-men-red-flags-mayday

Bangladeshis on Mayday demonstration. (Photo source: Internet)

PALESTINIAN TELLS DUBLIN MEETING ABOUT TEN YEARS OF BDS SUCCESS AGAINST ISRAEL

Diarmuid Breatnach

  A Palestinian speaker recounted ten years of success in the BDS campaign against the Israeli Zionist State and asked people to continue with it and, if possible, to step it up.

Riya Hassan addressed a crowd at the Pearse Centre in Dublin’s Pearse Street, just off Dublin City Centre, on Wednesday night. She spoke about the history of the oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli state and the ten-year history of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, explaining its origins in Palestinian society and charting its growth and successes. The three basic aims of the BDS campaign are to pressure Israel to end the colonisation and occupation of Palestinian land, to give equal rights to Arab-Palestinians citizens in the Israeli state and to agree to the right of Palestinian refugees to return home.

Riya Hassan

Riya Hassan

Section of the crowd at the public mee

Section of the crowd at the public mee

Riyah Hassan is European Coordinator of the BDS campaign, herself a Palestinian and, as she later explained when talking about the Israeli destruction of villages in the Negev, from near that area herself. Talking about the current refugee crisis in Europe, she pointed out that many of the refugees taking to sea in what she termed “death boats” (echoes of our own “coffin ships” during the Great Hunger) are in fact Palestinians. They are from refugee camps in Syria and are being made refugees for the second, third or even fourth time.

Speaking on the Palestinian refugee issue, a huge and outstanding one since 1948, Riya Hassan mentioned that their right to return home had been surrendered by the negotiators of the “peace process” at Oslo in the 1980s but that Palestinian society had not accepted this abandonment, whether in Israel, the occupied territory or in the refugee camps elsewhere.

Among a list of successes of the BDS campaign, Riya Hassan mentioned Veolia, a company which had been setting up the transport networks between settlements helping to carve up Palestine, had lost millions due to BDS – as a result, the company has pulled out of Israel (Veolia, by the way, runs the LUAS trams in Dublin). G4 Security, which runs surveillance on Israeli prisons, where there are currently well over 6,000 Palestinian prisoners, have said that they will pull out in 2017 but Riya said they should pull out now and called for pressure to be increased upon them. Another target should be our own Government, which has spent €14.7 million worth of arms and military components from Israel over the last decade (while Irish-based companies have exported €6.42m worth of military and ‘dual use’ hardware to Israel over the past five years). Riya reminded us of the complicity in murder entailed in buying equipment from the Israeli arms industry – an industry which boasts as a marketing point that its deadly equipment is “field tested”!

Among the measures of the impact of the BDS campaign on Israel and abroad, the audience were told that Netanyahu in addressing the recent AIPAC conference in the USA had given a quarter of his speech to attacking the BDS campaign and campaigners, in contrast to the early days when Zionists tended to dismiss the campaign as insignificant. More extraordinarily, perhaps, Hillary Clinton has given a promise, as part of her campaign for the Presidency of the USA, to do what she could against BDS.

Riya Hassan, BDS Europe Coordinator with Martin O'Quigley, Chairperson IPSC and who chaired the meeting

Riya Hassan, BDS Europe Coordinator with Martin O’Quigley, Chairperson IPSC and who chaired the meeting

Riya Hassan is eloquent, with excellent command of English and spoke clearly and confidently. If anything, she spoke for too long overall. It is hard for a visitor to judge what a typical Irish audience might know or what our cultural expectations are but the room was warm and after about 45 minutes one could hear some people shifting in their seats, a situation that did not improve as the talk extended well past the hour.

However, when the Chair of the meeting turned to the audience, it did not seem that anyone had missed an opportunity to ask questions or to comment and some even took several bites of the cherry.

As chair of the meeting (and of the IPSC) Martin Quigley drew the meeting to an end, he announced a boycott action of Tesco supermarkets for this Saturday and, for those in Dublin, asked them to meet at the IPSC office at 12 noon.

IPSC staff at the event

IPSC stall at the event

Riyah Hassan sets off over the next few days for Belfast and Cork before leaving our shores again and we wish go néirí an bóthair léithe!

end

POEM: THE NEW WAILING WALL

Part of Gaza after Israeli bombardment July 2014

Part of Gaza after Israeli bombardment July 2014

There’s a new Wailing Wall:
It’s in Gaza, and here mothers and fathers wail
at the bloody bodies of their children;
children wail at the bloody bodies of parents;
all wail over the bodies of friends and neighbours;
the wailing rises and the tears fall.

 

At this Wailing Wall,
we wail the mendacity of Israel and the West,
we wail the complicity of the media in the West;
while rockets, shells and bombs rained down upon us
the lies fell faster and thicker than rain,
a torrent of lies that never stopped.
To surge in flood over the bodies of our slain.
You come now with your flag of peace
tramping along the bloodstained road
and up the mountain of our bones
and the rubble of our homes
and offer us business as before
or – bombardment once more.

 

Now that the bombs have stopped,
we too stop and look around us:
our schools gutted and bloodstained,
mosques and hospitals in ruins,
so many of our buildings rubble,
or with gaping shell-holes,
in the hell-hole
you have made of Gaza.

We had so little and you destroyed so much.

 

In the days to come, more will sicken and die,
of wounds on flesh and wounds on soul,
of lack of medicine, fuel or food
as even in pause you take your toll.

 

Many are numb, some try to forget,
some try to live without forgetting,
but there is a begetting,
for in many hearts too,
your phosphorus flakes are snowing,
the embers of hate are glowing,
their machine guns and bombs are mowing
you and your children for generations to come.

 

Against your Goliath
our slingshots were of no use;
yes, God was with you –
he’s no longer Hebrew or English –
He’s American now;
you shot us down like fish
in the shooting barrel
you made of Gaza.

 

You wish us to recognise you?
Of course we recognise you –
the imprint of your boots are upon our necks;
we carry them from cradle to the grave.
But we will never agree to accept
or agree that you should keep
what you have stolen and plundered
the land you have sundered
or that you can make us second-class
citizens in our own land.

 

While we struggle to endure
and to ensure
that you never defeat us
let it be that we do not learn to treat others
as you now treat us.
What did you learn from your oppressors?
If all you learned was how to also
do so much of what they did,
then truly have the six million died in vain
and you mock their memory by invoking them.

 

Diarmuid, Feabhra 2009

 

I began to write this just as the December 2008- January 2009 bombardment of Gaza by Israel was coming to an end and rounded it off in February.  That was the one they called “Operation Cast Lead”, which killed over 1,400 Palestinians, mostly non-combatants, including 400 children and injured over 5,300 — again, mostly non-combatants.  I little thought that so few years later Israel would unleash an even worse bombardment upon the beleaguered Palestinians in Gaza, as it did in July last year, during which it killed over 2,300, again mostly non-combatants and this time nearly 500 children.  The damage to infrastructure is colossal and the Israeli-Egyptian blockade makes significant repair impossible.

I noted recently that I had published this on Facebook only so published it here on the “Rebel Breeze” blog also.

 

MASS MEDIA MANIPULATION – REPORTING ON THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT

Diarmuid Breatnach

 

Palestinian supporters and other critics of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza have long complained about the western mass media’s reporting of the conflict in Palestine. The complaints have outlined reporting slanted in the Israeli state’s favour and/or specifically against the Palestinians and their representatives.

Palestinian flag flies over the rubble of a Gaza neighbourhood after Israeli bombardment 2014 (photo Antonio Olmos)

Palestinian flag flies over the rubble of a Gaza neighbourhood after Israeli bombardment 2014 (photo Antonio Olmos)

Umberto Ecco once defined language as a system of communication through which one could tell lies. There is no doubt but that our mass media uses language. Their editors and reporters herd us as sheep are herded by trained dogs, sometimes with barks and snaps of teeth but more usually through nudges and subtle changes of posture. They direct us to the pen where we are wanted or, at the very least, away from freedom.

In order to demonstrate the techniques used I have taken an example of reporting on the conflict and analysed it. The piece chosen is far from being one of the worst pro-Israeli or anti-Palestinian pieces of journalism – it is actually quite mild and even points out the statistical imbalance in the killing of civilians by Israel’s armed forces on the one hand and by Palestinian guerrillas on the other hand. The report is by the Irish on-line newspaper The Journal and was put up by them in the middle of August 2014.

 The piece opens by saying that “Palestinian negotiators have been considering an Egyptian proposal to end the month-long Israel-Hamas war as the latest 72-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is due to expire.”  

This first of all says that the conflict is a war which also implies some kind of equal balance in fighting forces and also a share in blame. But it is not a war between any two sides; if it can be called a war at all, it is a war by Israel only. Israel is the fourth-largest military power in the world, with an army, navy and air force equipped with some of the latest armament and surveillance equipment. The Palestinians have a number of guerrilla groups, operating as infantry and no air or naval force at all. Their “artillery” are low-level rockets and mortars which cause very little damage to Israeli civilians and even less to the Israeli armed forces (except at close quarters, if Israeli soldiers invade territory held by the guerrillas). Israel’s armament causes huge damage to Palestinian infrastructure, huge loss of civilian life and does cause some damage to the guerilla groups.

The phrasing also suggests that Hamas is the only opponent of Israel on the Palestinian side. However, Israel has been in conflict with the Palestinians since the very day it came into existence and long before Hamas appeared on the scene. Even today, there are a number of Palestinian political and military organisations that are opposed to Israel and its actions and all together they represent the whole of Palestinian society inside the occupied territories, inside the 1948 borders of the state of Israel and in the refugee camps and settlements. In the sense that one could say that there is a war going on, it is Israel waging war against the Palestinian people.

The very next paragraph in the Journal’s piece says that “Since the truce, which will expire at midnight, went into effect on Sunday, Israel has halted military operations in the coastal territory and Gaza militants have stopped firing rockets.”

We see presented here that on the one side we have “Israel” and on the other, “Gaza militants”. As in bourgeois media reporting “militants” usually has a negative connotation, this is already tending to turn the reader against the Palestinians in Gaza. On the other hand, we have “Israel” which we can interpret either as “a legitimate state” or as the Biblical “promised land of the Jews”. And that is being opposed by “militants” in Gaza. The phrasing legitimises the status of one side while de-legitimising the other.

We are also told that Israel has halted “military operations”, two words that hardly convey the sustained bombardment of Gaza’s civilian houses, schools, mosques, civil administration facilities, power plant, water treatment plant, factories, hospitals and emergency vehicles in recent weeks. It does not bring to mind the slaughter of over 2,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians and including 430 children. Not to mention the 9,567 wounded, including 2,878 children and hundreds of injured jamming the remaining ill-equipped hospital treatment centres.

Israeli "military operations" -- Shuja'iyya neighborhood of east Gaza City during a 12-hour ceasefire on July 26 2014.

Shuja’iyya neighborhood of east Gaza City during a 12-hour ceasefire on July 26 2014.

The paragraphs states that in return for the cessation of “military operations” by the Israelis, the Palestinians have “stopped firing rockets”. Actually, if this report had just gone into a little detail, how pitiful by comparison with Israeli deadly ordnance would be the Palestinian rockets! Nevertheless, it is the rockets that are recently used as propaganda excuses by Israelis (before them it was something else) to justify the unjustifiable, the terrorising and collective punishment of a largely civilian population. So it is very rare indeed that western media reports omit any mention of the rockets.

The ceasefire was meant to give the two sides time to negotiate a more sustainable truce and a roadmap for the coastal territory.”

Again, “two sides” gives the impression of some kind of equal antagonists in balance. The “roadmap” may be a vague reference to some future deal but may also be a reference to something that was much bandied about in Clinton’s time as President of the USA. This “roadmap” was supposed to lead to a two-state solution and, apart from the fact that it completely supported the supposed right of the European settlers who created the state of Israel to steal Palestinian land, has now been rendered completely inoperable.  This is due to the continuing Israeli Zionist greed for land and building of illegal settlements throughout much of what was imagined as being part of the Palestinian state. And besides, the “roadmap” did not apply to the Palestinian refugees, who were given no right to return to their land. But it is useful for zionist-friendly propaganda purposes to pretend that this “roadmpap” ‘solution’ still exists and is viable.

A member of the Palestinian delegation to Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo said today that his team was considering an Egyptian proposal, which was tabled yesterday. Egyptian mediators have been ferrying between the Palestinians and their Israeli counterparts in an attempt overcome the differences between the sides.”

While it is true that Egypt has been “brokering talks”, that state is hardly an innocent bystander. Egypt has kept the Rafah Crossing, the only official exit point from Gaza not entirely controlled by Israel, closed or constricted. Egypt has also worked to destroy the tunnels which the people of Gaza used to smuggle in those items of daily life and, no doubt the arms they need, which Egypt is preventing from getting through the Rafah Crossing. The Egyptian state could nullify much of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, merely by opening their crossing into Gaza for normal traffic 24 hours a day.

The Egyptian armed forces, the real power in that country, are clients of the USA – another power which is hardly innocent but which on occasion tries to present itself as impartial in the conflict, despite its massive funding of the state of Israel. But those are not facts that the western media wish to disclose about the USA, Egypt or the conflict in Palestine.  

Another thing, notice that while Egypt is “brokering”, it is “ferrying” between the Palestinian and Israeli negotiators.  Clearly the antagonists are not face-to-face.  If we think about that at all, as readers we are left with a feeling that maybe each side hates the other so much that they can’t bear to be in the same room.  Or we might even think that Hamas, since it doesn’t recognise the right of Israel to exist, might not deign to speak to them directly.  But actually, the reverse is true — as throughout most of its history, Israel is refusing to speak to the Palestinians directly. But no point telling the readers about that, is there? Who knows what they might come to think of such an attitude and behaviour of the Israeli state?

The Egyptian proposal calls for easing parts of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, bringing some relief to the territory, according to Palestinian officials in the talks. But it leaves the key areas of disagreement, including Hamas’ demand for a full lifting of the blockade and Israeli calls for Hamas to disarm, to later negotiations.”

This is a bald enough statement which seems neutral but notice the unchallenged call for Hamas to disarm. From a state that is granted legitimacy to an insurgent force often painted as illegitimate, such a call seems reasonable. It has been and continues to be the basis for “peace (i.e. pacification) processes” throughout the world. But is there a call for Israel to disarm? Of course not. Yet it is the most heavily-armed power in the Middle East, the only one in possession of a nuclear arsenal and the one which has most often attacked its neighbours (not to mention the Palestinians).  And the piece above leaves us to draw the conclusion that the lifting of the Israeli blockade may require Hamas disarming — a fair exchange. And a reasonable reason, if Hamas does not comply, for Israel to continue its blockade on the whole population of Gaza.

The Palestinian negotiator said he had some reservations about the proposal and would try to improve it. “We would like to see more cross-border freedom, and also to have the question of a Gaza seaport and airport discussed,” he said.

Note no reason is given for the Palestinian wishes – they seem trivial almost and no reason not to agree to a truce. “Cross-border freedom” might seem like being free to go on shopping trips or holidays abroad. “Gaza seaport and airport” likewise may facilitate daytrips and holidays, or tourist traffic or imports of luxuries. Maybe even exports of craftwork, or olives from remaining trees not destroyed by Israel. Such phrases and word do not give us a picture of over 1,816,300 people locked into a piece of land of 5,046 square kilometres (13,069 square miles), under permanent hostile control and sporadic bombardment and invasion, short of clean water and with other water polluted, destroyed infrastructure, destroyed hospitals, schools, mosques and churches, ruined industries and agriculture, infrequent power supply for lighting and heating, hardly any transport, a polluted coast and Israeli attacks on fishermen.

During the existence of the USSR and its satellite states, the western media regularly attacked them for their restrictions on most of their citizens’ travel beyond their borders. They never did then — nor do they now – inform their readers of the much stricter Israeli control on travel by Palestinians, not only beyond Israel’s 1948 borders but also beyond the borders of Palestine occupied by Israel in the years since. In fact, even travel within the occupied territories is extremely difficult for Palestinians.

The next four sentences of the Journal’s piece are unproblematic enough as far as reporting goes although it could have commented on why lifting the blockade on Gaza might have been of such concern to Hamas and to the people of Gaza:

An Israeli government spokesman had no comment on the negotiations.

In recorded remarks broadcast on Hamas radio, Ismail Haniyeh, the top Hamas leader in the region, said that “achieving a permanent truce can come only through lifting the blockade on Gaza”.

Amid the ceasefire, an Associated Press video journalist and a freelance Palestinian translator working with him were killed today when ordnance left over from the war exploded as they covered a story about the conflict’s aftermath.

Italian national Simone Camilli, 35, and Ali Shehda Abu Afash, 36, died when an unexploded missile believed to have been dropped in an Israeli airstrike blew up as Gazan police engineers worked to neutralise it in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya.

However, the report could have gone on to tell us that the explosion also killed the four Gaza police engineers trying to neutralise the explosives and that another four people, including AP photographer Hatem Moussa, were badly injured.  Unimportant details?  News that might make us think worse of the Israeli armed forces?  Or sympathise with courageous Palestinian police and at-risk civilians? 

But it is not long before the more suspect reporting reemerges:

The war began on July 8 with Israel’s air campaign against Gaza’s Hamas rulers, whom Israel blamed for the kidnapping and murder in June of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Nine days later, Israel sent in ground troops to destroy Hamas’ underground cross-border tunnels constructed for attacks inside Israel.

Here Hamas are presented as “rulers”, as distinct and opposed to – once again – the state of Israel, conferring legitimacy on one party to the conflict, the aggressor, while subtly suggesting that the other antagonist is anything but legitimate and perhaps even despotic.

But the paragraph goes beyond that and suggests that Israel has a legitimate claim that Hamas kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers. The three were in fact kidnapped and murdered and, although Israel wrongly accused Hamas of responsibility, its intelligence organisation Shin Bet later admitted that it no longer believed that. It may have been some other smaller Palestinian group or even individual members that carried it out but it was not the Hamas organisation nor its leadership. But this paragraph leaves us with the impression that Hamas’ culpability was a reasonable supposition by Israel and a reasonable cause of it going to war against Gaza.

The paragraph goes on to accept Israel’s public rationale for the bombardment and invasion, viz. “to destroy Hamas cross-border tunnels for attacks inside Israel”. Israel first quoted the deaths of the three teenagers as their reason for attack and now it is the “Hamas tunnels”. So if the stated reasons change, doesn’t that suggest that they are suspect, not to be relied on, with maybe the real reason unspoken? No comment from the media.  Where are the tunnels?  Which “border” are they crossing (putting aside for the moment the fact that Israel has never defined its borders)?  Where are they attacking “inside Israel”?  When was the most recent Hamas attack “inside Israel”?  If this is a reference to the paltry rockets Hamas has fired, Israel has never claimed that these were fired at it from “inside Israel”.  If it is not a reference to the rockets, then to what?  We are not told but instead left with a feeling that Israel’s concerns could somehow be legitimate.

The fighting has so far killed more than 1,900 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, Palestinian and UN officials say. On the Israeli side, 67 people have died, all but three of them soldiers.

This is an unadorned statement of the shocking facts and we could not fault this paragraph.

But how about the very next sentence?

The latest outbreak of fighting is the third between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since Hamas took over control of the densely-populated territory in 2007.”

Here we have a repeat of that formulation which we saw earlier: the conflict, we are being asked to see, is between the ‘legitimate’ state of Israel on the one hand and “Palestinian militants” on the other.  And it is “fighting” between the two sides, rather than the truth: the attack of Israel’s military force upon the population of Gaza and the Palestinian guerrilla forces’ attempts to reply with their meagre resources.

Also, we are told that “Hamas took over control” of Gaza in 2007. In an invasion, perhaps? A coup d’etat? The fact, uncomfortable for the western media, is that it was in a democratic general election while Israel and western agents poured out anti-Hamas propaganda. And Hamas won not just in Gaza, incidentally – but in the West Bank too, although others are currently in power there. Are we told that Israeli political parties in government “took over control” of Israel? Of course not.

Continuing, the report states thatHamas has been consistently pushing for an end of an Israeli Gaza blockade, which Israel says is necessary to prevent the group from gaining access to weapons and munitions it deploys against Israelis.”

In this sentence, we learn that Hamas wants an end to Israel’s blockade but not why. We are not told that it is so that they can have sufficient fuel for heating and transport, food, medicine, clean water, industrial and building materials, teaching and learning materials, spare parts, etc, etc. Nor are we told that Gaza could then actually export products and gain some self-sufficiency. Nor are we told that Israel is illegally holding monies, such as tax revenues, that belong to Gaza. But we ARE told why Israel wants the blockade — “to prevent the group from gaining access to weapons and munitions it deploys against Israelis.” Well, there you are – that’s only reasonable, surely? !!

end.