As the Gaza
strip enters a humanitarian crisis following months of air strikes, and atrocious
conditions, the eye of the international media appears to be else where.
The war on Lebanon grabbed the headlines throughout the summer, diverting the attention of the world away from an event with many parallels, taking place in relatively close proximity. Since 'Operation Summer Rain', the alleged response to the capture of one Israeli solider by Palestinian resistance movements, swung into full force, destruction of the infrastructure and lives continues to be inflicted upon the Gaza strip.
While the capture of the Israeli solider and the offensive launched were initially well documented by the international media, the politically relevant war on Lebanon soon overshadowed the plight of the Gazans. The Gaza strip is still afflicted by killings in their hundreds as Operation Summer Rain continues and death still reigns in the Gaza strip, but the eye of the international media has not returned.
This is not to say there is not a level of coverage in the international media, and certainly the independent and some regional media outlets have not forgotten the escalating humanitarian crisis. The infighting amongst factions has been a headline grabber, with acknowledgment that it appears the Gaza Strip is sliding into civil war. The focus of these reports is largely on the political repercussions of the flailing chances of a national unity government being formed between the elected Hamas and Fatah parties. Also recognized as a catalyst for many riots which descend into fighting are the protests by civil servants who have now not been paid for seven months due to the US and European restrictions on financial aid.
But where are the smashing news headlines? What is happening is not short of a humanitarian crisis. In less than four months, statistics just released by the 'Ambulance and Emergency' department of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, state that 290 people have died, 135 of which were children. 750 people have sustained injuries leaving them permanently disabled. In this sick madness, power cuts caused by the deliberate bombing of the electricity supply by the Israeli air force leave doctors with a near impossible task in attempting to treat the injuries and ill health. The problems of running a hospital with a barely existent electricity supply are very obvious.
While the shelling and the shooting, the lack of sanitation and access to water, the destruction of the road networks and the closures of crossings in and out of the hermitically sealed Gaza strip is desperately inhumane, there is something particularly sadistic about the need to deny the residents of Gaza a minute’s rest through the use of sonic bombs. While this is one of the least physically destructive acts, it is deeply disturbing that pure psychological damage is being inflicted on an entire population; this is mass torture.
It is no surprise, but in fact clearly the desired result of Operation Summer Rains, that the situation in Gaza has degenerated so severely. There is no logic in the claim that this action will lead to locating the captured solider, which is still deemed the reason for this monstrous offensive, and no justification in suggesting that it is worth inflicting this misery on so many thousands as a revenge or a provocation to return one solider. Let us not forget that this is a solider, actively engaged in this fight unlike many Gazan residents, who are not all terrorists or soldiers but every day, innocent citizens, only guilty of the crime of living in Gaza.
'Just another mother murdered', is the aptly titled article by Alison Weir, pointing out the lack of interest by the US media in the continuing violence in Gaza; even when reporting on events they did not even provide accurate details. People die every day, children die every day; it appears that this news is merely accepted as standard. It is just another few deaths in Gaza.
This is not to say the situation is not the same in other parts of the world which receive far less media coverage than the Palestinians. However, there is a striking hypocrisy over the coverage of Israel and Palestine; only last year we saw a media frenzy surrounding the disengagement of settlers from Gaza. This was front page news, around the world, although there were no people starving to death or being killed, as is now taking place on the same piece of land.
A second piece of spectacular hypocrisy was carried out over the coverage of the supposed catalyst for Operation Summer Rains: we read extensively about the news of Gilad Shalit being 'kidnapped' and 'abducted' but what we did not read about was the capture of two Palestinians which took place just a few days before. Even if the capture of two Palestinians was not considered a newsworthy event at the time, it would seem a highly relevant piece of background to the capture of Shalit and the events that unfolded afterwards. If we are provided with extensive explanations as to why the Israelis were provoke into both Operation Summer Rains, and the war on Lebanon, we should also receive the same explanation as to the provocation behind Palestinian operations.
Watching the events over the summer we were given the impression that Israel was had a war launched against it. The damage done to Israel throughout the Lebanon war was actually 43 civilians and 116 soldiers, the BBC reports. Over the past four months 135 children have died in Gaza, this is three times the number of civilians that died in Israel over the summer. Therefore, if causalities are any measure, the operation in Gaza should denote at least as much interest as the attacks on Israel – which received breaking news status on international news channels – if not three times as much.
The UN has totally condemned the Israeli offensive and declared it as a 'humanitarian crisis', which is 'breaking international law'. It seems only appropriate that the media stands up and does the same.