— by Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin
Over the course of one week, The Philadelphia Inquirer ran 10 photos depicting attacks and damage in Gaza, and none depicting the effect of thousands of Hamas rockets on civilians in Israel, or any Hamas militants.
Between Sunday, July 27, and Saturday, August 2, The Inquirer did not miss a day:
- 1. “Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over the Gaza Strip…”;
- 2. “A cameraman records a scene as smoke rises from an Israeli air strike in Gaza City…”;
- 3. “Used artillery shells litter the ground [next to an Israeli tank]…”, and
4. “An Israeli soldier on a tank at the border…”;Wednesday:5. above a bold, upper-cased, above-the-fold A1 headline, “GAZA EXPLODES,” a 5×8-inch color shot of smoke and flames over mid-rise apartments, “Smoke and fire rise from an Israeli air strike over Gaza City…”,
6. just below the fold on page A1, “Two boys survey rubble from a damaged apartment building in Gaza City…”, and
7. above a continuation headline, “Israelis pummel Gaza, Hamas” on page A4, “Below a blown-out window in a damaged apartment building in Gaza City, the Hamas-affiliated Al Aqsa television station lies in ruins…”;Thursday:8. “Gazans inspect damage to houses from a fallen minaret,” above the headline “Israel broke international law, U.N. says”;Friday:9. “Smoke rises after an Israeli strike on Gaza City…”;Saturday:10.“Women sit on the rubble of their home in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip…”
The Inquirer also found space for two photos (Wednesday and Saturday) of anti-Israel “West Bank” protests, but no space for photos depicting Israeli civilians being terrorized, despite the Iron Dome system, by endless rockets aimed at them.
Israel had plenty of “photo opportunities” for papers like The Inquirer during this week:
- Israeli children sitting in shelter,
- Israeli homes destroyed by rockets launched from Gaza,
- Israeli mothers cradling children stopped at the side of the road during a rocket attack,
- Israeli bus passengers crouched behind a behind a plexiglass bus stop stand meant to protect a few people from rainfall.
And what about any Hamas militants and fighters, who shot thousands of rockets into Israel and forced Gazan civilians to shield them and their weapons? Was none of this newsworthy? None of it was demanded by balanced reporting in a week of 10 photos showing damage in Gaza?
This rocketing is not a new response to Israel’s incursion into Gaza last month. Years ago, The Inquirer’s foreign affairs columnist, Trudy Rubin, told readers about the schoolyard game that little Israeli kids play in the endlessly-rocket-battered Israeli town of Sderot: “They shout ‘Color Red! Color Red!’ And then they go hide.”
Papers like The Inquirer would not have achieved reportorial balance by just pairing these photos of Israeli civilians with photos of Gazans.
The IDF makes unprecedented efforts, and gives unprecedented warnings, to try to minimize damage to civilians from whose midst Hamas fires rockets at Israel. Hamas’s very targets are Israeli civilians. The irrefutable proof of this is Israel’s use of the Iron Dome. Israel has not deployed this highly-effective protection over its army bases and airfields, but over its cities, to protect its civilians. That Israeli civilian casualties have been incredibly low is not because Hamas has not been trying to kill them.
No country on earth able to defend its civilians from cross-border rocketing would have waited a tiny fraction of the time Israel had waited before crossing that border to stop it. But not rockets sent the IDF into Gaza this time.
The specter of ruthless sworn enemies ascending en masse out of the ground in civilian areas, dressed in IDF uniforms, to murder and kidnap Israelis — Israel has amassed evidence of just such a plot, including blowing up kindergartens, to have been hatched during next month’s Jewish high holidays — overrode everything.
In was in just pursuit of the light at the end — demolishing — of those tunnels, which Hamas, at enormous cost and energy, has thoroughly and professionally dug under the border reaching kilometers into Israel, that drove the IDF into Gaza in July. No country could live with such tunnels under its borders.
Here are some revealing statistics that the media fails to report, let alone acknowledge, on Operation Protective Edge:
- According to the IDF blog of 8-5-14, in the three weeks leading up to July 8, Gaza terrorists fired 250 rockets capable of reaching Israel’s largest population centers and endangering 3.5 million Israelis.
- More than half a million Israelis had less than 60 seconds to find shelter after hearing a rocket siren; tens of thousands had only 15 seconds.
- Hamas fired 3360 rockets from Gaza: 2303 hit Israel, 115 hit populated areas in Israel, 475 hit Gaza; 584 were intercepted by the Iron Dome.
- Thirty-two offensive tunnels were destroyed, many of which dug deep and encroaching into Israel, lined with weapons, handcuffs and tranquilizers (for kidnapping), and fortified with concrete and cement.
- The IDF struck 4,762 terror targets: 1,678 rocket launching facilities, 191 weapons facilities, and 977 command centers. Many of these were in or around civilian residences, hospitals, schools, U.N. facilities and mosques, and were precision, surgical strikes.
- More than 750 terrorists were killed: a statistic rarely mentioned in the media when reporting on the total number (1800) killed in Gaza, making it appear these were all civilians.
- Most telling of all: despite Hamas’ incessant attacks, including on the Kerem Shalom border-crossing, the IDF continued to transfer thousands of supply trucks into Gaza during the conflict between July 8 and August 5, including 1,856 trucks carrying 40,550 tons of supplies into Gaza, 37,178 tons of foods, 1,694 tons humanitarian goods, and 1,029 tons of medicine and medical supplies.
Moreover, Israel continued to supply power to Gaza even after a Hamas rocket hit a power station in Israel that was supplying it power. What other country on earth would provide power and such supplies to a sworn enemy who started a war against it?
The recently-captured Hamas manual on urban warfare is proof positive that Hamas engaged in a sick, twisted ideology that promulgated the use of its civilians as human shields, and that it benefits when civilian homes and structures are destroyed, while recognizing that the IDF would minimize its attacks knowing civilians were present. Hamas exploited its civilian infrastructure and abused its civilians for terrorism purposes, constituting substantial war crimes.
And yet, the world is silently watching Christianity being cruelly eradicated from the Middle East and Africa, and a self-declared Islamic caliphate rampaging ruthlessly and somewhat successfully through Iraq and Syria, but is singularly consumed with condemning the terrorist-rocket-battered, terrorist-tunneled-under Israel for striking back at the tormenting terrorists.
If Jews are defending and fighting back against Islamic-based and initiated attacks, that is scrutinized and dissected against the militarily-successful and powerful Israelis, not condemning the outrageous war crimes that caused the conflict. Yet everywhere else around the world where Muslims are attacking and killing their own, and the minorities in their midst, the media gives that a pass. This can only be described as anti-Semitism at its rank worst.
The land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria (“the West Bank”), and “East” Jerusalem, has been the Jewish people’s homeland for 3,000 years. During that time, that land has seen three homeland states: Judah, Judaea and modern Israel — all of them Jewish. Jews have lived in this land, and in the broader Middle East, during all of that time. Palestinian Arabs have not ruled Jerusalem or Judea and Samaria for one day in history.
Finally, the post-Ottoman-Empire 1922 San Remo treaty enshrined the Palestine Mandate as the homeland for the Jews, yet still gave 78% of that land to the Arabs, which became the state of Jordan.
Israel is a fact, and the Arab and Muslim inability to recognize this, for religious or political reasons, is the obstacle to any peaceful co-existence.
Lee Bender is the co-president, and Jerome Verlin is co-vice president of the Zionist Organization of America — Greater Philadelphia District. They are the co-authors of the book, “Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z.”