Media reporting of the assault on the flotilla
By SIRAJ WAHAB | ARAB NEWS 1 June 2010
DAMMAM: The people of the Western world have been given a jaded perspective on the unprovoked Israeli attack on an unarmed, six-ship relief flotilla on the high seas, some 130 km off the Gaza coast in international waters.
The assault by marauding commandos has drawn condemnation from the United Nations, the European Union and NATO-member Turkey, but US and British media outlets for the most part have opted to broadcast the Israeli government’s official line, branding the foreign nationals as terrorists.
The Israeli naval forces disrupted maritime communication from the flotilla before the combined air-and-sea assault, and less critical newsgathering organizations are settling for handouts from the Israeli government.
“They wanted to make a political statement,” Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said in a statement aired by American news media. “They wanted violence.”
A good comparison is the coverage between the British Broadcasting Corp. and Qatar-based Al-Jazeera News.
At the noon (Saudi time) bulletin BBC ran the story as its lead and continued to air Israeli version of the gruesome attack. Not just that, it gave precious airtime to the Israeli spokespersons with little interruption or questioning from the anchor. One missed Nik Gowing in the newsroom. The Israeli spokesperson and Israeli sympathizers waxed eloquent on how the organizers of the flotilla were responsible for bringing the tragedy upon themselves. There was little or no mention about the fact that the attack had taken place in international waters.
Al Jazeera English brought in everything. In its 1 p.m. bulletin, the anchor led the story by mentioning that 14 people had died in the Israeli attack on the lead ship called Mavi Marmara. It then showed dramatic footage right from the ship that was under attack. Al Jazeera’s Jamal Al-Shayyal was on board the main ship — a sharp contrast to Tia Goldenberg of The Associated Press filing her reports from the Israeli missile boat INS Kidon, which took part in the attack.
“Two people have been confirmed dead,” Al-Shayyal reported. “The organizers of the aid flotilla have now asked all passengers to go inside. Israeli commandos have descended upon the ship. The ship is still in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The Marmara has been surrounded on all sides by armed boats. We can still hear shots being fired — even after the white flag has been raised. There are all civilians on this ship. They include women, children and the elderly.”
Al-Shayyal’s reports and the dramatic shipboard footage explained it all. It was there in images. Al Jazeera then took the viewers to the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon who was reading a statement.
“We were attacked by those on board the ship. We regret the loss of life but the responsibility for this tragedy lies with the organizers of the flotilla. We told them not to enter Gaza. We told them to deliver the aid through appropriate channels. The organizers of the aid flotilla are the supporters of Al-Qaeda and Hamas. They were armed and trying to lynch our soldiers, and that is why we acted in self defense,” he said.
Al Jazeera then brought in Murat Mercan, chairman of the Turkish Parliament commission of foreign affairs. “Ayalon is a liar,” he said. “The ships were cleared by the Turkish authorities. There were no arms of board. Only people. There were so many ways of stopping the ship. Obviously, Israel wasn’t interested in merely stopping the ship. This will have consequences. No country has the right to attack any ship, armed or unarmed, in the international waters. This is a serious violation. In the coming days, you will see how Turkey will respond,” he said.
Al Jazeera took the viewers to Ayman Mohyeldin in Umm Al-Fahm which is where Sheikh Raed Salah, a prominent theologian from Palestine, came from. He was also on the ship and was shot in the head by the Israeli commandoes. He also gave a sense of the people’s feeling saying, “All the images being shown from the activists on board those ships show clearly that they were civilians and peaceful in nature, with medical supplies on board. So it will surprise many in the international community to learn what could have possibly led to this type of confrontation.”
Anita McNaught, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Istanbul, was out in the streets of Istanbul gathering people’s reactions. Turkish protestors carrying Palestinian and Hamas flags were swelling up in the town square to register their protest. “The Turks had a constructive military alliance and for many years they saw the issue of domestic terrorism as one they had to share information about,” she said. “But since the Gaza war relations have nose-dived and it would be absolutely fair to say that this attack is the lowest point.”
The best part of Al Jazeera coverage was the soundbyte from the erudite Palestinian leader Nabil Shaath. Very methodically, he called the Israeli bluff. “This is a murderous attack,” he said. “All this talk about there being arms on the ship is absolute nonsense. One is reminded of the American drugs police who sometimes plant drugs on somebody just so they can arrest him. Nobody is going to believe Israel. Such excessive use of force indicates their nefarious designs. They went in to kill, and they did.”
So far, Western news outlets seem content to take statements and press releases from the Israelis; the rest of the story remains unreported.
Posted by admin on May 31st, 2010
Gaza flotilla ship
IOA Editor: Despite critical domestic complaints to the contrary, Israeli propaganda campaign is already underway to lay the blame for the latest massacre of innocent civilians on — you guessed it — the victims themselves.
While Israel has instituted a news blackout on the number of casualties, the circumstances of their death, and the many injuries, it has been reported (on Monday, 31 May 2010) that as many as 20 civilian protesters are dead and perhaps 60 are injured.
And while not explaining just how they died, IDF propaganda officials continue to release statements to the Israeli media that Israeli commandos landing on the ships were attacked with knives and metal bars, even with guns.
Those of us who follow the actions and behavior of Israeli Occupation Forces already know that blaming the victims is an old Israeli trick.
However, as the following press conference by Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon demonstrates, Israel is surpassing its own record of irrationality and criminal irresponsibility, and its propaganda machine has now reached well beyond its previous limits of the imagination.
The IOA is will present both news and analysis of the Gaza flotilla in the coming days.
Note: Israeli press reports indicated that the Deputy Foreign Minister took questions only from Israeli journalists and refused to make statements in English.
31 May 2010, Israel National News
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon addressed the press Monday morning after the Gaza Flotilla operation. Attendance by the international media was sparse.
“I want to report this morning that the armada of hate and violence in support of the Hamas terror organization was a premeditated and outrageous provocation. The organizers are well known for their ties with global Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Hamas. They have a history of arms smuggling and deadly terror. On board the ship we found weapons – prepared in advance and used against our forces.
“The organizers’ intent was violent, their method was violent, and the results were unfortunately violent. Israel regrets any loss of life and did everything to avoid this outcome. We repeatedly called upon the organizers, and all those who associated with them, through diplomatic channels and any other means we could – to stop this provocation. The so-called humanitarian aid was not for a humanitarian purpose. Had it been for a humanitarian purpose, they would have accepted our offer to deliver all humanitarian supplies through the appropriate channels which are used on a daily basis, as we make sure that Gaza will not be short of humanitarian supplies. On a daily basis we do that.
“We asked them to send [their supplies] through the proper channels, whether it’s the UN, whether it’s the Red Cross, whether it’s our people – but to no avail. They said it’s a humanitarian campaign, but in fact what they said repeatedly is that their intent and purpose was to break the maritime blockade on Gaza. [The blockade] is very legal and justified by the terror that Hamas is applying in Gaza. Allowing these ships to go in a illegal way to Gaza would have opened a corridor of smuggling arms and terrorists to Gaza with the inevitable results of many, many thousands of civilian deaths, and violence all over the area.
“After these repeated calls were not heeded by the organizers, we told them that they will not be allowed to break the blockade. According to maritime law we have the right to do that. Unfortunately the people and organizers on the ship did not heed the calls of our forces this morning to peacefully follow them and bring a peaceful closure to this event.
“No sovereign country would tolerate such violence against civilian population, against its sovereignty, against international law. And we in Israel call today upon all relevant parties and on all relevant countries to work together in calming the situation.”