Monday, October 09, 2006

9-Oct-06: One More Death, Four Different Viewpoints

Other than the fact that a Palestinian Arab died today as a result of shots fired by Israeli service personnel at a crossover point near Shechem (Nablus), almost everything connected with the death of a man called Mohammad Sa'adah today is in dispute.

It's instructive - for those of us who care about the role played by the media - to see how different agencies deal with those disputed issues. We'll start with the BBC:

Two Palestinians killed by Israel
The Israeli army has killed two Palestinians in separate incidents in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Palestinian medics said a 14-year-old boy was killed in northern Gaza. Israel said it killed a Palestinian retrieving a rocket launcher. In the second incident, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian they said was trying to stab them at a checkpoint close to the West Bank city of Nablus. But Palestinian witnesses said the 20-year-old victim was unarmed.
As usual, the BBC gives us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. A 20 year-old Palestinian who the Israelis say was trying to stab them, killed by the Israelis. How awful. Yet another innocent death to add to the toll. Another needless death chalked up to those trigger-happy Israelis.

Next a Palestinian agency known for its highly partisan coverage of news from an exclusively Arab viewpoint for consumption in non-Arab news markets:

Army kills Nablus resident at Huwwara checkpoint south of the city
Ghassan Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies - Monday, 09 October 2006, 16:50
Mohammad Sa'adah, 22, was shot and killed on Monday afternoon by Israeli soldiers stationed at the Huwwara military checkpoint south of the West Bank city of Nablus. Soldiers did not release the body of Sa'adah for some time then gave his body over to a Palestinian ambulance that took him to Rafidia Hospital in the city. Sa'adah is a redident of Tall village near the city of Nablus. Local sources said that Israeli soldiers are holding scores of Palestinian civilians at the Huwwara checkpoint and the nearby Beit Iba checkpoint. Soldiers closed the two checkpoints after the incident. The Israeli army claimed that Sa'adah ran towards the soldiers at the checkpoint and tried to attack them with a knife. Soldiers then opened fire at him and killed him. Eyewitnesses at the checkpoint said that the Sa'adah ran towards a car at the checkpoint when he was shot by a number of soldiers. They said that he was not holding a knife as the soldiers claimed. However, soldiers insisted that they found the knife in his clothes after killing him while searching the body.
So the Pal-Arab version knows about an attempted attack and about a knife. Strange that the BBC failed to pick that up. Move on now to the version of Haaretz, a serious daily from Israel that holds a left viewpoint on most things.

Report: IDF kills assailant near Nablus
Also Monday, IDF soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian at the Hawara checkpoint outside of Nablus. The IDF said the man ran toward a soldiers and tried to attack them with a knife at which point they opened fire and killed him. Palestinian witnesses said the man, Mohammed Saadeh, 20, a Palestinian policeman, ran toward a car at the checkpoint when he was shot by three soldiers. They said they did not see him holding the knife, a small paring knife, but that soldiers later found it in his pocket.
That's interesting. The innocent Pal-Arab is a policeman in the service of the Palestinian Authority. To us, that seems like a relevant piece of information, particularly when the Americans, with enthusiastic support from Europe, are looking to substantially boost the size of Mahmoud Abbas's personal security force and the ranks of the PA police. Is it possible that the BBC could have overlooked this?

Finally, this from Yedioth Aharonot, an Israeli tabloid:

Nablus: Soldier kills Palestinian after stab attempt
Stabbing attack thwarted: Soldiers at Hawara checkpoint shoot, kill Palestinian who tried to assault troops with knife
Efrat Weiss (Published: 10.09.06, 18:17)
A Palestinian man was shot and killed on Monday in the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus after attempting to stab IDF soldiers who were manning the checkpoint. The man raised the suspicion of the soldiers and then attempted to attack them. One soldier shot the man at his lower extremities and wounded him. He died shortly thereafter. A preliminary investigation revealed that the man approached two soldiers who were inspecting vehicles at the checkpoint who were leaving Nablus. At some point the soldiers became suspicious of the man, and after questioning him regarding his actions, the man took out a knife and assaulted one of the soldiers, knife in hand. The Hawara checkpoint experiences an incident or an attempt to attack soldiers on daily basis. In addition, the soldiers thwarted attempts to transfer weapons through the checkpoint.
It's a small story. Among all the bloodshed and misery, just another death. And as most of us know, there's plainly no such thing as objective reporting when it comes to highly contentious issues like the Arab/Israel conflict and the jihadist war against the world.

But there are still some among us who aspire to seeing news media who understand the meaning of impartial. Give us the facts, we say, and let us make up our own minds.

It would be interesting to know whether the BBC's large Israel-based staff thinks it belongs to the school of impartial reporting. Israelis like us who consume its reportage daily, albeit from a standpoint of criticism, believe the BBC does not even come close. For ourselves, it's hard to say this is because of their reporters in the field. Most of those we've met (not all) seem serious and professional, especially when compared with reporters for lesser media orgs. That only leaves us to wonder about what must be happening in far-off Bush House where - presumably - they have a much clearer and wiser view of matters than we lesser mortals out here in the sub-tropics.

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