The Israeli Foreign Ministry has withdrawn an animated video which made fun of the coverage of last summer’s Gaza offensive by foreign journalists. Between 8 July and 27 August, 2014 more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, along with 72 Israelis.
In the video a blonde, American-accented TV journalist is shown reporting from the Gaza Strip while Hamas militants are seen in the background.
The main message of the video appears to be that Western journalists reporting in Gaza are only critical of Israel and refrain from criticising Hamas.
The video also implies the international correspondents who covered the conflict were guilty of naive reporting.
In the video, the blonde reporter talks about the Palestinians and how “ordinary people” are just trying to live their lives, saying “no terrorists here.” As the reporter’s talks about the situation a Hamas member can be seen in launching rockets in the background.
In another shot, the journalist is seen reporting from a tunnel used by Hamas to attack Israel, describing it as “a fascinating attempt by Hamas to build a subway system which will bring Gaza’s transportation system into the 21st century.”
At the end, a narrator gives the journalist a pair of glasses and says “Maybe now you’ll see the reality of life under Hamas rule,” following which the journalist faints in shock.
The cartoon ends with the narrator saying, “Open your eyes. terrorism rules Gaza.”
The South Park-style video received reactions from members of the Foreign Press Association (FPA).
The FPA issued a statement, saying:
“At a time when Israel has serious issues to deal with in Iran and Syria, it is disconcerting that the ministry would spend its time producing a 50-second video that attempts to ridicule journalists reporting on a conflict in which 2,100 Palestinians and 72 Israelis were killed.
“Israel’s diplomatic corps wants to be taken seriously in the world,” the group said in the statement. “Posting misleading and poorly conceived videos on YouTube is inappropriate, unhelpful and undermines the ministry, which says it respects the foreign press and its freedom to work in Gaza.”
A New York Times writer condemned the cartoon as “a ludicrous spoof of western journalists.”
A spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, Emmanuel Nahshon, said the video was “poking gentle fun at the phenomenon” of Hamas allegedly using “human shields” during fighting and only “partial reporting” of this by international media.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said there had been no intention to offend anyone. It said:
“During Operation Protective Edge rockets were fired from populated areas and near public structures.
“All this was well-known and documented. But incriminating photos were published only later, with a notable delay. The claim was fear of Hamas. The video looks at this phenomenon in an amusing way.”
The video sparked reactions on Twitter.
A ludicrous new video from the Israeli Foreign Ministry depicts the Western press as naive and hopelessly biased. http://t.co/JlVRrkCurt
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) June 17, 2015
— Bea (@Bea4Palestine) June 16, 2015
The Israeli foreign ministry releases excruciating South Park-line cartoon insulting foreign journalists. http://t.co/OJyoVpscoU
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) June 15, 2015
— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) June 15, 2015
— Marty Baron (@PostBaron) June 16, 2015
— Daniel Wickham (@DanielWickham93) June 16, 2015
— Alex Nunns (@alexnunns) June 17, 2015
Israel Foreign Ministry video mocking foreign journalists lasted a week despite ongoing exclamations that there is no bad publicity.
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) June 21, 2015
Just as the video was released, UN investigators announced that they found that Israel and some Palestinian groups committed serious abuses during the 2014 conflict in Gaza.