Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shedding light on the UN, Media and Operation Cast Lead

While the distaste left in my mouth by the civilian deaths in Gaza hasn't totally dissipated, there are a good deal of stories lately which not only refute some of the claims made by Hamas and the UN, they also reinforce the integrity of the IDF.

The first news is that Israel did not, in fact, attack the UN school. The damage that was done (43 killed) took place near, but not in, the facility as was initially claimed by the UN and as reported in countless news sources. That story was initially investigated by a Canadian newspaper, and only now is the UN backtracking on its claim.

The second piece is the the UN is now condemning Hamas for stealing aid supplies, including blankets and food, meant for Palestinian civilians.

"Hamas policemen stormed into an aid warehouse in Gaza City Tuesday evening and confiscated 3,500 blankets and over 400 food parcels ready for distribution to 500 families," said United Nations Relief and Works Agency spokesman Christopher Gunness.

"They were armed, they seized this, they took it by force," Gunness said, terming the incident absolutely unacceptable.

The third is the most sensitive. Last week a journalist from the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Lorenzo Cremonesi, quoted a doctor in Gaza's Shifa hospital, put the civilian death total much lower and the militant casualty number much higher.

All of these stories help reinforce Israel's position vis-a-vis its opponents and seem to present a trend in which initial reports are skewed against Israel (Qana, Jabalya, Al-Dura), only to later be found fraudulant or greatly exaggerated.

None of these stories bring the dead back to life or console the bereaved, but they illustrate the place of propaganda and media in this conflict and why, if we can't even agree on what transpired, we will continue to have incredible difficulties moving forward.

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