The media often distorts the Palestinian struggle for self-determination against the occupation, and the recent Israeli bombardment of Gaza provides one such damaging example.
In one of the most serious escalations of violence seen in recent years, Israel has fired hundreds of missiles into the occupied Gaza over the weekend, leaving 19 people dead, including two pregnant women and a toddler.
Hostilities began on Friday when Israel killed two Palestinians in the besieged territory. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, groups that are fighting against Israeli occupation, fired missiles in retaliation into Israeli territory, leaving four people dead.
Israeli violence towards the people of Gaza typically manifests through regular territorial incursions, the targeted killing of protesters during weekly Friday marches, and preventing vital food and aid from entering the territory.
The most recent burst of violence coincides with the start of the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has sparked outrage among activists, as has coverage of its behaviour by international media outlets.
The New York Times ran the headline ‘Gaza Militants Fire 250 Rockets, & Israel Responds with Airstrikes’, placing the blame for starting the flare-up on Palestinians, and missing critical context, which some users saw as misleading.
This is a stunningly irresponsible and misleading headline. Israel shot dozens of unarmed Palestinian protestors in Gaza on Friday and killed 4 Palestinians, including two protesters, in Gaza before any projectiles were launched. pic.twitter.com/vue25YNRch— (((YousefMunayyer))) (@YousefMunayyer) May 5, 2019
Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian woman in Congress, chided the New York Times over perpetuating the idea that Israel is the victim, and that Palestinians are the aggressors.
When will the world stop dehumanizing our Palestinian people who just want to be free? Headlines like this & framing it in this way just feeds into the continued lack of responsibility on Israel who unjustly oppress & target Palestinian children and families. #FreePalestine https://t.co/p3X3j8WtwM— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) May 5, 2019
Other outlets were no better.
CNN also blamed the Palestinians for starting the flare-up and the outlet appeared to blame Palestinians for the death of Palestinian children. It took CNN another six paragraphs to reveal that Israeli airstrikes killed a pregnant Palestinian woman.
Interestingly, Palestinian deaths are primarily viewed as ‘retaliation’ by international media outlets, while Israeli deaths would never receive that kind coverage.
Another online user took aim at The Guardian in London, which again framed the violence as the responsibility of the Palestinians.
This headline is repulsive & the v reason @guardian’s milquetoast liberalism isn’t doing the Left any favours. Gaza is being blown to bits just before Gazans are due to start fasting. Babies & their mothers are dead. Stop trying to justify Israeli cruelty.https://t.co/srMs0IflAj— Afroze Z 🦋 (@AfrozeFZ) May 5, 2019
The Los Angeles Times was also criticised for underplaying Palestinian deaths and framing the issue as the Israeli victim versus a Palestinian aggressor.
This headline is problematic. What about the five Palestinians killed a day earlier? https://t.co/GJ9Usy4poB— Mairav Zonszein מרב זונשיין (@MairavZ) May 4, 2019
And, as if it to drive the apparent point home:
Compare and contrast.— Miqdaad Versi (@miqdaad) May 4, 2019
Al-Jazeera notes "Rockets fired from Gaza day *after* Israel kills four Palestinians"
BBC, Guardian, Mail Online headlines appear to ignore the Israeli aggression which sparked this latest set of hostilities. https://t.co/0oLe15By8e pic.twitter.com/9V2RCNtiCw
Whereas Palestinian writer Ahmed Masoud, originally from Gaza, refused to be cowed by what he sees as attempts by the Western media to ‘shame’ Palestinians by accepting Israeli occupation and killing.
Being a #Palestinian from #Gaza gives me a sense of pride, not shame as Western Media would like us to feel by portraying us as terrorists every time we are being bombed. We want a life with dignity, enough is enough #GazaUnderAttack— Ahmed Masoud (@masoud_ahmed) May 5, 2019
US President Donald Trump, one of the most openly pro-Israeli presidents in American history, was quick to offer his support to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and unusually found himself on the same side as the media he regularly attacks for being biased.
Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 6, 2019
Trump’s tweet blaming Palestinians for the situation is not out of the ordinary but part of a longstanding US policy to speak in favour of Israel and blame Palestinians for their situation.
However, a new crop of Democratic Congress members has also brought a different standpoint to US politics, which is often uncritically tilted towards Israeli political and economic interests.
How many more protesters must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends?— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 5, 2019
The status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable. Only real justice can bring about security and lasting peace.