Al Jazeera: Gaza and the information war

My hero of the Gaza war

My war hero likes to eat at Acre’s famed Uri Burri restaurant. He thinks it’s the best fish restaurant in the world, and told me as much yesterday from the porch of the central Gaza City office building from which he has broadcast every day for the past two weeks, noon and night, almost without rest.

My war hero is Ayman Mohyeldin, the young correspondent for Al Jazeera English and the only foreign correspondent broadcasting during these awful days in a Gaza Strip closed off to the media. Al Jazeera English is not what you might think. It offers balanced, professional reporting from correspondents both in Sderot and Gaza. And Mohyeldin is the cherry on top of this journalistic cream. I wouldn’t have needed him or his broadcasts if not for the Israeli stations’ blackout of the fighting. Since discovering this wunderkind from America (his mother is from the West Bank city of Tul Karm and his father from Egypt), I have stopped frantically changing TV stations. [continued…]

Jailing journalists

The Israel Defense Forces has learned from past wars. Take the Falklands War – in 1982 the British Navy sailed thousands of kilometers to liberate, 19th century-style, the remote and scarcely populated islands, which had been seized by the Argentine Army. British war correspondents were on board, plied with Defense Ministry briefings, on which they depended to write their reports. If those reports did not meet censorship criteria, they were simply tossed out. Journalists were turned into hostages.

The IDF has not gone so far in placing limitations on the media, nor has it had to. It was enough that during most of the of war it prevented journalists from entering Gaza. Instead of direct and independent reporting, the Israeli public is receiving partial coverage that has passed through the monitoring and filtration of the military censors and IDF press officers. [continued…]

Why Israel’s war is driven by fear

Yeela Raanan says she would prefer not to know about the war in Gaza. She doesn’t want to see the pictures of dead children cut down by Israeli shells or read of the allegations of war crimes by her country’s army as it kills Palestinians by the hundreds.

But there is no escape. Raanan can hear the relentless Israeli bombardment by air, sea and land from her home, just three miles from the Gaza border. Hamas rockets keep hitting her community. And somewhere in the maelstrom of Gaza, her 20-year-old son is serving as an Israeli soldier.

“I’d rather not know. I can’t do anything about it. We didn’t see the pictures of the Palestinian kids who were killed. It’s easier not to feel,” she said. “I just turn on the news for five minutes a day and that’s it, just to see if anybody says anything about my kid.”

But when Raanan thinks about her son – whom she prefers not to name – she also thinks about Palestinian mothers and their sons in Gaza. And that’s when she finds her herself out of sync with the neighbours. “I don’t talk to the neighbours about it any more,” she said. “Hamas is violent. Hamas is stupid. I don’t like what they are. But I don’t feel angry towards them. I understand why they were elected, I understand why they act as they do.” [continued…]

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