Gaza through a NY Times lens

Leo Rennert
NY Times Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner journeyed to Gaza to report on conditions there two years after Israel's counter-terrorism offensive, following several years of incessant rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled territory against civilian targets in Israel.  ("Gaza Mends, But Israelis See Signs Of Trouble" Dec. 17, page A6)

While Bronner gets a few things right -- Hamas tightening its grip on Gaza, persecuting members of its rival, Fatah, a booming economy thanks to generous foreign aid and growing supply shipments from Israel -- his article is flawed by some conspicuous anti-Israel spins.

First, his account of Israel's Cast Lead operation against thousands of rocket barrages aimed at Sderot and other Israeli communities near the Gaza border.  Bronner's version is that this was a "three-week war that destroyed thousands of buildings, killed about 1,300 people and largely deterred rocket fire."

Bronner's formulation -- Israel killed "1,300 people'' -- gives a false impression that Israel mounted an offensive against Gaza's entire population.  The opposite is true.  Israel went to extraordinary lengths to spare civilians -- sending warnings by telephne and leaflets to warn residents to get out of areas where terrorists were embedded -- and did its utmost to aim its attacks instead against Hamas operatives and other terror groups.

The result:  Most fatalities were Hamas operatives and members of other terror groups, as Hamas itself now has admitted.  At the time, however, the Times and other media went along with Hamas propaganda claims that most casualties were civilians.  The IDF, after a careful check to identify each casualty, reported a total of some 1,170 fatalities, including about 700 operatives from Hamas and other terror organizations.  The Times paid scant attention to the IDF figures, hewing instead to claims by the UN and human-rights groups that most of those killed were civilians.

Except that less than two months ago, Hamas turned around and informed an Arabic newspaper in London that, yes, its real tally jibed with the IDF's report -- thus confirming that the majority of fatalities were operatives from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror groups.

Bronner, however, seeks to hide the results of the IDF's focus on hitting combatants and limiting collateral civilian damage as much as possible.  In his account, Israel -- with superior firepwoer -- killed about 1,300 "people."

Ditto with Bronner's glib summation of Cast Lead destruction of "thousands of buildings" -- again without noting salient distinction between military and civilian targets.

Then, there is Bronner's take on Gaza's isolation because of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade.  While acknowledging massive supplies transferred from Israel, he asserts that "Gazans still cannot cross into Israel."

Flat wrong.

Gazans requiring special medical care are regularly admitted by the hundreds into Israel where they receive first-class treatment in Israeli hospitals, even when some of these same hospitals are targeted by rocket fire from Gaza.

Giving Israel due credit comes hard at the New York Times.
NY Times Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner journeyed to Gaza to report on conditions there two years after Israel's counter-terrorism offensive, following several years of incessant rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled territory against civilian targets in Israel.  ("Gaza Mends, But Israelis See Signs Of Trouble" Dec. 17, page A6)

While Bronner gets a few things right -- Hamas tightening its grip on Gaza, persecuting members of its rival, Fatah, a booming economy thanks to generous foreign aid and growing supply shipments from Israel -- his article is flawed by some conspicuous anti-Israel spins.

First, his account of Israel's Cast Lead operation against thousands of rocket barrages aimed at Sderot and other Israeli communities near the Gaza border.  Bronner's version is that this was a "three-week war that destroyed thousands of buildings, killed about 1,300 people and largely deterred rocket fire."

Bronner's formulation -- Israel killed "1,300 people'' -- gives a false impression that Israel mounted an offensive against Gaza's entire population.  The opposite is true.  Israel went to extraordinary lengths to spare civilians -- sending warnings by telephne and leaflets to warn residents to get out of areas where terrorists were embedded -- and did its utmost to aim its attacks instead against Hamas operatives and other terror groups.

The result:  Most fatalities were Hamas operatives and members of other terror groups, as Hamas itself now has admitted.  At the time, however, the Times and other media went along with Hamas propaganda claims that most casualties were civilians.  The IDF, after a careful check to identify each casualty, reported a total of some 1,170 fatalities, including about 700 operatives from Hamas and other terror organizations.  The Times paid scant attention to the IDF figures, hewing instead to claims by the UN and human-rights groups that most of those killed were civilians.

Except that less than two months ago, Hamas turned around and informed an Arabic newspaper in London that, yes, its real tally jibed with the IDF's report -- thus confirming that the majority of fatalities were operatives from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror groups.

Bronner, however, seeks to hide the results of the IDF's focus on hitting combatants and limiting collateral civilian damage as much as possible.  In his account, Israel -- with superior firepwoer -- killed about 1,300 "people."

Ditto with Bronner's glib summation of Cast Lead destruction of "thousands of buildings" -- again without noting salient distinction between military and civilian targets.

Then, there is Bronner's take on Gaza's isolation because of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade.  While acknowledging massive supplies transferred from Israel, he asserts that "Gazans still cannot cross into Israel."

Flat wrong.

Gazans requiring special medical care are regularly admitted by the hundreds into Israel where they receive first-class treatment in Israeli hospitals, even when some of these same hospitals are targeted by rocket fire from Gaza.

Giving Israel due credit comes hard at the New York Times.