Sunday, March 24, 2013

24-Mar-13: Six children seriously hurt in Gaza. So where is the news reporting?

Rafah: It's in the news often, and usually with plenty of
photos to go with the reports. Not this time. [Image Source]
From the Bethlehem-based, European-funded Ma'an News Agency, Friday:
6 children injured in Gaza explosion | GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Six children were injured in an explosion in the Gaza Strip on Friday, a medical official said. Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that six children aged 6 to 10 were moderately wounded when an unknown device exploded in Rafah. One child suffered serious injuries to his hand.
Seems like a good time to remind readers about the two rockets that were fired at Israel on Thursday March 20 but (to adopt the euphemism that is sometimes applied on those rare occasions when such shooting-themselves-in-the-leg-yet-again moments happen in  Gaza) "fell short". We wrote about this here: "21-Mar-13: Rockets fired at Israelis as media focuses attention elsewhere".

The number of foreign journalists based in Gaza is not great (Ma'an does have offices and staff there). Which causes us to wonder how to interpret the silence of the BBC, normally quite proud of the independence and professional quality of its Gaza team, and particularly Gaza-based Jon Donnison in the face of this report of six Gazan Palestinian Arab children being 'moderately wounded' according to Ma'an. (We can see no report anywhere on the BBC's web presence about the maiming of six children in Gaza, but if we're wrong, we would appreciate hearing about it.) 

The same question might also be put to the people at the Washington Post. That great paper's then-ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, was asked to respond to the controversy over its publication (along with most of the world's serious newspapers) on the WP's front page of a photo of Jihad Masharawi, who works for the BBC's Arabic service in Gaza, holding his dead baby son in November 2012. Pexton explained this was because the editors at the Washington Post felt it “went straight to the heart, this sobbing man who just lost his baby son.” (At the Warped Mirror blog, they point out that "Of course, the rocket was fired with the intention to create such a scene in Israel".)

So what is there about six maimed Gazan children that fails to go straight to the heart of professional news-people?

Might it be the realization that this is another instance of Arab-on-Arab victimization? Yet another humiliating and senseless "fell short" disaster? 

Just three days ago we posted here that 
We have written several times [for instance "18-Nov-12: Fell short? Not just the Hamas rockets but the ethics of the journalists covering them"; "24-Dec-12: Fell short? Not HRW"; "9-Mar-13: The viral power of a lying image and the editors who make it all happen"] about those "fell short" rockets. The unwillingness of reporters and their editors to acknowledge how often this happens is extraordinary. It's a subject that deserves some analysis.
Since we actually do not know (and do not claim to know) what caused six children to be badly hurt in the explosion of that 'unknown device', we should point out, as Times of Israel did last night, that 
Gaza based terror organizations have been known to use residential areas in order to stockpile arms, raising the possibility that the current blast was due to a weapons malfunction.
Whatever the cause, the near-total absence of reporting is something that deserves to be noted, as well as the continued terrorization and victimization of children.

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