The alleged “standards” of journalism have failed me. They have failed the Israelis, and they have failed the Palestinian people. By now, most students have heard about the recent battle between Israel and Hamas. However, most students are extremely ignorant to the situation in its entirety, and I cannot blame them — I blame the news sources. I blame The New York Times. I blame CNN. I blame Fox News. If you received your information from these media outlets or the hundreds of other mainstream sources, you would think the situation suddenly escalated two weeks ago, if indeed, it had not just appeared out of thin air the day before, when Israel began its latest military operation, “Pillar of Defense.” None of these sources had the integrity to delve deeper into the situation and outline the relevant facts on the ground.
I have yet to read one article that begins with the true foundation of the conflict: Terrorist rockets launched from Hamas-controlled Gaza at Israeli civilians over the past several years. I have yet to read one article that states the fact that the United States and the European Union have blacklisted Hamas as a terrorist organization. And further, for comparability’s sake, Hamas is Israel’s al-Qaida. Its stated aim is the genocide of the state of Israel. In the last 10 years, Hamas has indiscriminately launched over 12,000 rockets at Israelis living in southern Israel.
This past year alone, Israel has received over 1,100 rockets. That is an average of 100 rockets per month and 3 rockets every day. This past year there have been numerous occasions when Hamas has fired a barrage of rockets toward Israel in a short period of time, forcing southern Israel to come to a standstill. Children could not go to school, parents could not go to work, and movie theaters were closed. The weekend before Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas once again sent over 130 rockets aimed at Israeli civilians in just 72 hours. Their targets are civilians, as can be seen from their indiscriminant firing at numerous Israeli cities: Ashdod, Sderot, Ashkelon, Beer Sheva, Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, to name just a few. Civilians are not accidental victims. Remember, this was before Israel launched its operation earlier in November. After absorbing 130 rockets too many, Israel finally took measures to protect the lives of her innocent civilians. That is when Israel began her operation to strategically target terrorists and their supply of rockets. As Israeli President Shimon Peres said, “There is no nation that loves peace and hates bloodshed like Israel. Our enemies are not the people of Gaza. Our enemies are not the Muslim people. Our enemies are the terrorists who operate without reason and without thought.”
Hamas, for months, has been stockpiling Iranian-made weapons for a looming attack on Israel. With Iranian long-range missiles, over 4 million Israelis are in the range of Hamas rocket fire. That is 4 million people who must run into bomb shelters at the sounds of a siren, 4 million people who cannot go outside without knowing where the nearest bomb shelter is. Could you imagine living like that? If you heard the shriek of a siren, where is the nearest place you would run? The Hans? The basement of MacAlister?
Please do not misunderstand me — I do not revel at the loss of innocent life, whether it is an Israeli or Palestinian life (and unfortunately, lives have been lost on both sides of the conflict). And neither does Israel. In Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel has strategically hit launching pad sites and weapon supply houses in Gaza. They do not want to take the lives of innocent bystanders, unlike Hamas, which targets innocent bystanders. Another fact the news outlets will not tell you is that Hamas launches its rockets from civilian areas. Just last week, an aerial photo was published showing one launching pad in Gaza that was on the same block as a mosque, a gas station and a hospital. If Hamas truly wanted to protect its citizens, it would not subject the Palestinian people to such danger. The omission of this fact is only hurting the Palestinian people; it is a crime against the reporting of truth. Palestinians deserve better than Hamas. Israel, on the other hand, sought all possible ways to minimize civilian casualties from dropping leaflets on civilian areas warning them to flee before a targeted air strike to advertising on Hamas TV channels to stay away from Hamas operatives.
And if you refuse to believe me, you can look to the U.S. State Department for confirmation. After the situation quickly escalated, a statement came out:
“We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence. There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately. We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.”
And lastly, but arguably most importantly, not a single news source highlighted the fact that Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Israel expelled every Jewish settlement in hopes for peace. The Palestinians of Gaza were given their own land; there has been no Israeli military or civilian presence there for seven years. The question then becomes: Why were rockets being fired at Israel from Gaza?
It’s time the news outlets expose the truth because it certainly is doing the public a great injustice. Painting one side as an oppressor and the other as a victim is an oversimplification and simply insulting to the American people as well as those involved in the conflict. The bias skews the conflict and only aggravates the situation.
Shoshana Weiss is a Business Administration major at Drexel University. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org