Sunday, October 13, 2013

13-Oct-13: Gazan tunnels: what lies beneath the surface

Building materials being transported into the Gaza Strip from
Israel [Image Source: Flash 90]
Since the basic elements of the Gaza tunnel story, revealed today by Israel's army, are not disputed, let's go with the IDF's press announcement:
On October 7, IDF soldiers discovered the opening of a tunnel built by Gazan terrorists near Israeli civilian communities. The tunnel is approximately 18 meters underground and extends 1.7 kilometers. This is the third such tunnel found along the Gaza-Israel security fence in the past year... The tunnel was built with approximately 500 tons of cement and concrete. Hamas and other terror organizations in the strip invest millions of dollars and resources in order to operate a thriving network of illegal tunnels leading into Israel. Sufficient evidence suggests that terrorists methodically abuse construction materials transferred into the strip by Israel as humanitarian aid in order to build such tunnels. Brig. Gen. Mickey Edelstein, Commander of the Gaza Division: “The IDF holds the Hamas terror organization as the sole responsible body for all terror activities emanating from the Gaza Strip etc." [From the IDF Blog, today]
Hundreds of tons of cement and concrete made this tunnel possible. It was a done deal, and only a matter of time before armed and lethally-equipped men and women with murder on their minds would make their way through it. There's no double purpose to a tunnel like this one. It runs into Israel, not Egypt. It's not there to smuggle cows or cigarettes. It's a weapons-delivery system. No one is claiming otherwise.

Most people know how pathetic the lives of the people in Gaza are. No one tells the story of their suffering, their inadequate housing, the squalor of their towns, villages, shacks more often or more aggressively than the cold-blooded insiders of Hamas, and those who choose to align themselves with them - despite all the blood and gore on their hands - for 'humanitarian' reasons. Let the Gazans have cement, let them have concrete, stop the collective punishment, be more humanitarian! The drill is all too familiar to us.

Now let's get one aspect of this sorry affair clear. Hamas has the entire Gaza Strip in its tight control. People live and die there according to the will of the Hamas inner circle. And hundreds of tons of building materials get used for housing and schools and hospitals when and if the Hamas regime says so. When Hamas says that cement and concrete gets pulled aside and applied to the construction of a well-fortified tunnel for taking the war up to the homes of the Israelis, then that's what happens, and that's what happened.

At some point, someone is going to do an accounting to see which specific parties - from among the thousands of aid workers and the many dozens of NGOs active in Gaza - knew the cement and concrete were being sent to the tunnel makers. But for now, it's sufficiently shocking for the rest of us to note how the report of the tunnel is being marketed to the consumers of news around the globe.

One report, syndicated by Agence France Press, starts out this way today:
Israel on Sunday froze shipments of building materials to the Gaza Strip after discovering an alleged "terror tunnel" entering its borders from the adjoining territory, a defense official said.
"Due to security reasons, (the army) decided to stop for now the transfer of building materials into Gaza," Guy Inbar told AFP.
Inbar, spokesman for the Israeli defense ministry unit responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, did not say how long the ban would remain in force.
Last month Israel permitted delivery of cement and steel for use by the private sector into the Gaza Strip for the first time since 2007, when Israel banned their transfer as part of a larger economic blockade imposed on the Strip at the time. [AFP today]
Yes, it bothers us that the terror tunnel is written "terror tunnel". But the basic factual elements of the news are there. A tunnel, intended to serve the purposes of terror, was found. It was made from materials that Israel had allowed into Gaza. Israel, aware that more cement and concrete will surely mean more underground terror-delivery systems, stops the inflow of cement. Which self-defence force would act differently?

We snapped this semi-trailer hauling
construction steel into Gaza in September 2012
So how have AFP's customers chosen to headline that syndicated report? The same identical report in each case, but each of the editors decide on what title to give it, and therefore how to spin it:
For consumers of the Arab and Pakistani news products listed above, the clear take-away (unlike in the case of the one British paper, the Telegraph) is that Israel has yet again done something unconscionable and oppressive. One more depressing instance of editors engaging in cognitive warfare. 

Over at the BBC, they quote an Israeli activist group called Gisha today saying 
70 lorry loads of building materials for the private sector and 60 loads for humanitarian projects had been due to enter Gaza on Sunday.
Unfortunately, the editors at the BBC fail to take the next step and ask their readers to figure out why those lorry loads that had been due are now not going to cross over into Gaza.

At some point, and soon, those same editors are likely to be once again assailing the 'cruel' Israel policy that keeps making life miserable for the Gazans, and many of their readers will have neither the data nor the motivation to recognize the con job which is being pulled on them.

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