Media coverage of the Israeli attack on Gaza-bound Flotilla

Posted: May 31, 2010 by undergroundfisherman in Media
Tags: , , , ,

Media coverage of every major event varies depending on where you are in the world and who you listen to. There’s little doubt that political and ideological agendas within the media play a big part in the way stories are presented to the wider world. Taking last night’s (30/31st of May) attack by Israeli forces on a flotilla of Palestinian aid ships bound for Gaza as an example, let’s look at the different angles that the media tend to take when it comes to issues such as the Israel/Palestine conflict. Hopefully by looking at every side of the story, we can piece together an idea of what exactly happened. Bear in mind this is more an exploration of journalistic styles rather than a critique of the incident.

Benjamin Netanyahu at press conference by Downing Street.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backed his troops after the flotilla incident, but it has been received with horror in many parts of the world

Reuters.com is well known as one of the most balanced of all news services, and they delivered on this once again, speaking to the Israeli side they asked how the incident escalated to such an extent that upwards 19 people have died. Apparently, the troops boarded the ships armed primarily with paintball guns, but switched to their backup of live ammo when the activists resisted. An Israeli troop who boarded the ship spoke to Reuters and said “they beat us with metal sticks and knives, there was live fire at some point against us.” In another article on the same website, entitled “Israel flotilla action criticised by friends and foes”, they discuss the possible implications it may have for politics in the region. Turkey, who have had better relations with Israel than most, have said “Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behavior.” Thousands of Turkish citizens have already took to the streets of Istanbul in protest. Reuters also takes a quote form French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, who said “I am profoundly shocked by the tragic consequences of the Israeli military operation against the Peace Flotilla for Gaza.”

MSNBC focus on the political implications of the tragedy, focusing especially on Turkey. “Turkey, which had urged Israel to allow the ships safe passage, cancelled three planned joint military exercises with Israel, and Ankara said Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan would cut short an official visit to Latin America to return home. He described a fatal Israeli commando raid on an aid ship as “state terrorism.” they go on to quote further from what Erdogan said in Chile on Monday that “Israel has shown that it does not want peace in the region and has violated international law.”

Al Jazeera who were given a terrible reputation as propagandists during the Iraq and Afghan wars, are in fact a very reputable and objective news source. They gave this early report of the incident early this morning

Fox News give the same facts as Reuters, but their choice of words is much different. They open their coverage of the incident with the headline “Israel Prime Minister gives “full support” in Gaza flotilla raid.” Speaking with Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, who said, “the organizers’ (of the flotilla) intent was violent, their method was violent and the results were unfortunately violent. Israel regrets any loss of life and did everything to avoid this outcome.”

Sky News, bemusingly, looks at the situation in some detail from a PR point of view. In a two-minute video on their website, they manage to implicate the humanitarian mission with Hamas. Einat Wilf, a member of the Israeli Knesset, said they shold not have boarded the boats because “you should not send soldiers into the PR arena. They suggest that Hamas will benefit greatly from the incident calling it “a PR coup at a time when their popularity had been under pressure.” This tenuous link to Hamas is followed up by another mention of the militia group, this time in Danny Ayalon’s official address to the media, saying it was “an armada of hate and violence in support of the Hamas terrorist organisation.” Dominic Waghorn’s report from Ashdod is one which really tries to link the flotilla with terrorism, which is something that even the most hardened  pro-Israeli cannot justify.

In an interview with Sky News, Adrian Harrison, whose daughter Alex was one of the members of the aid mission, refutes any connections to anything other than aid, saying “Alex has been working for Human Rights groups for eight years now, she was on The Spirit of Humanity, another boat which the Islaeli’s seized, thay said the cargo would be given to the Palestinians, but that never happened.” Mr Harrison was then asked questions such as whether his daughter was taking part purely for humantiarian puposes or for political ones, whether they were expecting to be intercepted by Israel, and when the last time he had seen his daughter. All of the questions were put to Mr Harrison in an attempt to suggest that the flotilla was a PR stunt to embarrass Israel and to provoke such a heavy-handed reaction. There are no links to this rather terse interview on the website, but you can find it on Sky News active at the moment.

Here’s a round-up of some of the reaction to the incident.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has officially declared three days of mourning.

“There must be an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of the crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza,” Catharine Ashton – EU Foreign Policy Chief.

“India deplores the tragic loss of life and the reports of killings and injuries to the people on the boats carrying supplies for Gaza. There can be no justification for such indiscriminate use of force” – Indian Ministry for External Affairs

“The president has expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances around this morning’s tragic events as soon as possible” – White House press release.


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