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The media war

Guest post by DaveM

On 27th December, during its coverage of the Hamas–Israel war, Al Jazeera broadcast a live interview with Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee.

He had appeared on Al Jazeera previously, but rightly took exception to Al Jazeera’s coverage of events and put them straight on a few things.

He made a lot of important points which are rarely put forward in the Arab media.

Jazeera Achorwoman: “We return to Avichay Adraee, spokesman for the Israeli Army in Tel Aviv. You wanted to add something and you said that we cut you off and you wanted the right to reply? Go on.”

Adraee: “As I said previously, and I’ve been following the Al Jazeera broadcast since this morning and hearing you say that that Israel is using these missiles fired at us by Palestinians as some sort of pretext to launch a military campaign and air raids.

“This military campaign isn’t being done under a pretext. It’s a response to a barbaric act of war carried out by a terrorist organization that targets Israeli citizens who live in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

“There have been hundreds of missiles fired on the heads of our men, women, children, and elderly, even in the last few days

“Did anyone really think that we would not defend our citizens? How is it in any way possible that this situation in Gaza and south Israel could continue, where Israel is subjected to these att…”

Anchorwoman [interrupting]: “Why is it OK for you to defend yourselves but not OK for the other side to do that? Where’s the barabism here? One minute, please, what barbarism are you talking about, Avichay? Is there barbarism in launching missiles or in what we see here which is like something from a Hollywood film, a cruelty in which we see dozens of corpses which litter the ground?”

Adraee:
“Those corpses are from Hamas members who are shelling us. This barbarism has now become a festival of oration where people give vehement speeches threatening Israel and menacing Israeli citizens in and beyond Ashterot & Ashkelon.

[NOTE: this was broadcast on the 29th – since then, right now as I write, Al Arabiya are reporting 75 children killed so far in this war]

“And we’ve been sitting here all this time listening to all these threats.

“They’ve been doing all this all this time instead of providing for the daily needs of the Palestinians. This is the barabarism that I’m talking about.

“For every Palestinian citizen today it all goes back to one thing and one thing only. Every complaint, every suffering, every tragedy, it’s all caused by one thing and one thing only – the Hamas movement.

“And Israel has been saying, while all of this has been going on for the last few weeks, that peace requites peace. [i.e. a truce has to come from both sides. One side can’t adhere to a truce while the other side attacks it].

“But a truce while they’re raining hundreds of missiles down on us? We cannot and will not accept that.

“A return to calm after the end of this ceasefire {tahdi’a – which I’ve translated both as ceasefire and truce} [was the intention], but then Hamas ended that ceasefire.

“And today they want to return us to the zero point [i.e. destroy us] after raining missiles down on us? This will not happen. Israel will not let this happen. There is no possibility of Israel shirking from its responsibilities [protecting its citizens].

“So the responsibility for all this lies squarely on Hamas’ shoulders.

“You hit me then you cry and you’re the first to complain? I’ve said all of this previously, this is the Palestinian situation right now”.

Anchorwoman:
“What about during the ceasefire? History shows that during the ceasefire Israel didn’t offer, either for Hamas or Palestinian citizens, anything other than killing them in their dozens.

“Does Israel not yet understand that this way doesn’t accomplish any positive results, this military action which is launched on Gaza?”

Adraee:
“The prime minister, the foreign minister, defense minister, the head of the armed forces – all the representatives say that peace requires peace.

“Before, during and after this truce, and I can only give you this information here – 300 rockets and mortars have been launched at the heads of our children, women and elderly, all during this ceasefire. How is that a ceasefire?”

Anchorwoman: “Are you prepared to end the siege in exchange for a truce?”

Adraee:
“I’m not the PM or any official who makes political decisions. I speak to you from my position in the army. Our position is that we are in a continual operation. An operation which can be stopped at any time. But [Hamas] must provide suitable circumstances for this to happen, and they must understand a clear message.

“And I say to them wherever they are: ‘Whoever intends to kill you, kill them first [before they can kill you]’ This is a famous Arabic proverb.

“If Hamas thinks or is under the illusion they can continue to rain their missiles down on us, they and their leadership are deluded.

“Did they really think we wouldn’t defend our citizens from this? We will pursue these terrorists wherever they are.

“So if they store weapons in a civilian house then we will strike it because otherwise they’ll use those missiles against us.

“The Palestinian citizens must know this very clearly – Israel’s not doing this under any pretext, Israel is defending the lives of its citizens. So the Palestinians must demand from those who rule them to defend them… ”

Anchorwoman
[interrupting]: “The numbers are clear and we will read them, Hassan?”

Anchorman: “Leena, these numbers. The Jerusalem Detachment, the military wing of Islamic Jihad before the end of the truce, compiled the results of these Israeli incursions.

“There have been 195 breaches in the Strip that led to 22 martyrs, most of whom were resistance fighters along with 62 injured including nine fishermen and farmers. There were also 38 people imprisoned.

“In the West Bank there were 1260 incursions that martyred 21 resistance fighters and citizens along with 245 injured. Most of them were injured during demonstrations against the separation wall during which the occupying forces imprisoned 1111 – all of this during the six months of what Israel calls a truce.”

Anchorwoman: “These numbers which include dozens of martyrs along with injured and those taken captive by Israeli troops. So what truce is this? With what logic can you compare the Israeli air raids which have killed hundreds with the Palestinian rockets, which you use as a pretext to launch these raids, which haven’t yet killed one Israeli. Except for today when one person has been killed.”

Adraee: “In order to clear things up I want to firstly talk about the West Bank, there was no truce there.

“These breaches of the truce which Islamic Jihad have calculated, this isn’t true because there never was a truce in the West Bank.

“The second point is that it’s Islamic Jihad that compiled those statistics you’re using. Surely you must get your information from a neutral source and not from a group which wants to continue launching missiles at us, that’s the second point.

“The third point is that you’ve mentioned there were 195 breaches in Gaza. That’s not correct.

“I say to you that 300 rockets were launched on our heads during the truce. You cannot compare this…..”

Anchorwoman: [tries to interrupt]

Adraee:
“So what you’re saying is that there were no Israelis injured from [Hamas] rockets? OK, fine, if that’s what you say.

“Then OK, fine, so what you’re saying is these Palestinian rockets are absurd and haven’t injured any Israeli and didn’t kill any Israeli.

“OK. Fine. In that case why launch them? So why do they subject themselves to this danger? This isn’t a pretext – this is a response to an attack, an act of war. An attack by terrorist group on us and we will protect the lives of our citizens.

“So if they want to get rid of any [so called] ‘pretext’ and if this is what they really want, fine, fair enough. Then stop launching missiles at us! So why aren’t they doing this?

“If as you in Jazeera are saying there’s no use in launching these missiles because they don’t kill any Israelis or injure any of us, OK then in that case stop firing them!

Anchorwoman: “We didn’t say that!”

Adraee: “You’re not talking about what’s in the interests [of the Palestinians]. There’s been no call for helping what’s in the interests and welfare of the Palestinians, they’re just depending on what’s making things worse for them. OK, fine!

“Now, wake up from your delusions! You’re getting an Israeli response [to these missile attacks]. Start thinking along new lines. Think about the future. What do you want it to be?

“Do you want to spill your blood? Do you want a future of cycles of war and violence? Then why don’t you stop these actions which don’t benefit you in any way?”

Anchorwoman: “Avichay Adraee, Israeli Military Spokesman, thank you for your participation here”.

Watching the Arabic media’s coverage of the Israel-Hamas war, the missing questions are “Who started this war and how could it have been avoided?”

Although Al Arabiya has mentioned on occasion that Hamas broke the ceasefire, there seems to me, at least publicly, to be a closing of the ranks, with the assumption that Israel is carrying out an aggression against civilians.

As these events unfold I can’t help but think back to when I was in Damascus during and after the July 2006 war against Hizbullah’s aggression.

Then Al Manar (Hizbullah’s TV station) was predominantly broadcasting two things: Israeli programmes, (subtitled in Arabic), about the Winograd report and this sort of thing:

A lot of people in Syria regarded the July 2006 war as a Hizbullah victory, and to them the Winograd report confirmed Israel’s weakness and inability to win wars. But a few realised something completely different had just taken place.

“Dave,” one told me in private, “the fact that Israel publicly released a report highlighting its failures means they’ll not make those mistakes again. To start a war with them now, you’d have to be insane”.

Yet 18 months later, that’s exactly what Hamas and their allies in Gaza did.