How much the value of a (Palestinian) life By William Bowles

6 January 2004

In a ten-day period, there were over 70 individual violent actions against Palestinians by Israeli Occupation Forces resulting in deaths and woundings of innocent civilians, destruction of property, confiscations and deportations. Where was the coverage in the Western Media?

How much do you think a Palestinian’s life is worth? Well if you were to judge it by Western press coverage of the occupation of Palestine, as near to zero as is possible. A survey of ten days of the Independent’s news coverage (supposedly sympathetic to the Palestinians) of the Palestine/Israel conflict (27/12/03 – 06/01/04) is extremely revealing:

27/12/03 – 1 (p.13)
28/12/03 – No info
29/12/03 – Zero
30/12/03 – Zero
31/12/03 – Zero
01/01/04 – 2 stories
02/01/04 – Zero
03/01/04 – Zero
04/01/04 – No info
05/01/05 – 1 (p. 22)
06/01/04 – 1 (p. 26)

A total of just five news stories over a period of ten days. I missed two days, so we’ll give the Indie the benefit of the doubt and add two more stories that maybe I missed, making a total of seven for the ten-day period. More importantly however, is that analysis of the stories reveals that the content did not cover the on-going murder, destruction and deportations being carried out on a daily basis by the occupation forces. In other words, it no way reflected the scale of the atrocities being committed or the centrality of halting Israeli occupation and suppression of the Palestinian people to achieving justice and democracy for all the people of the Middle East.

The short story on Dec 27 was headlined “Hamas to be exempt from Israeli retaliation strikes” a story that proved to be wrong as a couple of days later IOF forces attacked and killed two Hamas officials.

“Israeli soldier arrested over ‘sniper’ shooting of unarmed British peace protester” involved the shooting of a British citizen, clearly a more valuable life than than many Palestinians killed. The second story was about the Golan Heights settlements.

The one on Jan 5 was more substantive and headlined “Israeli colonel resigns over army’s ‘immoral’ actions” in the occupied territories and carried the reasons why he had resigned the trigger being however, the shooting of Israeli civilians by IOF soldiers.

The story on Jan 6 was headlined “Attacks must stop or we will break from Palestinians, vows Sharon”. However, over the eleven day period, there was not a single story on the daily shootings and oppression of the Palestinian people carried out as part of the official state terrorist policy of the government of Israel.

Israeli Actions in the Occupied Territories over the same period 27/12/03 – 06/01/04) not covered by the Independent (extracted from comprehensive news sources that are freely and easily available to the British media. See sources at the end of the article).

There were a total of around 70 violent and repressive actions over this same period that went largely unreported in the Western media involving shootings, rapes, denial of medical treatment, deportations, demolitions of houses and a mosque, forcible ‘sale’ of Palestinian land, expansion of settlements supposedly to be dismantled, foreign visitors deported including a Swedish MP. I have itemised many of them (but by no means all) below.

27/12/03
IOF Kills Palestinian in Nablus, Wounds Girl in Khan Younis and Jewish Settlers Reconstruct Outpost in Hebron
International Press Center 12/27/2003

Fresh IOF Invasion, Half the Population of Balata Camp Herded in Open Air
International Press Center 12/27/2003

One Palestinian Dies of Wounds, IOF Injures Five Children in Khan Younis
International Press Center 12/27/2003

Soldiers Used Live Ammunition against Peace Activists
International Middle East Media Center 12/27/200

Israeli troops fire on schoolchildren
Al-Jazeera 12/27/2003

Zionist enemy uses new missiles in assassination of commando
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2003

Four Palestinians wounded in Zionist fire at funeral procession
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2003

Rafah Governor: Destruction “An Unprecedented Earthquake”
International Press Center 12/27/2003

1 Palestinian killed, 3 hurt in clashes with IDF troops in Nablus
Ha’aretz 12/27/2003

Palestinians assassinated in Gaza by Israel; Palestinian groups vow that Israeli civilians are targets
Arabic News 12/27/2003

28/12/03
IOF Dynamites a Palestinian House in Balata, Continues Rampage in West Bank Cities
International Press Center 12/28/2003

Israeli Authorities Decide Expelling Seven “Administrative Detainees” to Undisclosed Location
International Press Center 12/28/2003

Israeli Airforce kills five Palestinians in Gaza assassination
Ha’aretz 12/28/03

Criminal probe may be launched into IDF firing at protesters
Ha’aretz

29/12/03
The Aggressive Campaign on the Palestinian Communities
Jerusalemites/Union of Health Care Committees 12/29/2003

The effects of the Israeli movement restriction on Palestinian health care
By Amineh Ishtay, Jerusalemites 12/28/2003

Israeli Soldiers Kill Three Palestinians
The Guardian

Israel targets Jerusalem’s Palestinians
Al Jazeera.net

IOF Kills Three Palestinians in Gaza, Partially Redeploys Around Nablus
International Press Center 12/29/2003

PRCS Employee Shot and Killed in Gaza Strip
Miftah/Palestine Red Crescent Society 12/29/2003

Jewish Settlers Assault Palestinian Citizen, IOF Lock Down Bethlehem
International Press Center 12/29/2003

Israel destroys eight structures, mosque in Bedouin village
Al-Bawaba 12/29/2003

Israel Hampers Local and International Figures Protesting Apartheid Wall
International Press Center 12/29/2003

Israel shelves Migron outpost’s removal
Middle East Online 12/29/2003

A total of 10 incidents for Dec 29.

On December 30, there were 8 incidents involving violence including rapes and mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners.

On December 31, there were 15 stories reported of separate violent actions by the IDF and other Israeli forces resulting in deaths, injuries and demolitions.

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories 25-31 December 2003
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 1/3/2004
8 Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli forces / 5 of the victims were killed during an extra-judicial assassination in Gaza city / Israeli forces conducted a series of incursions into the West Bank and Gaza Strip / More areas of agricultural land were razed in the Gaza Strip/ 7 houses and a school were demolished in the Gaza Strip / Houses were raided and a number of Palestinians were arrested / Construction of the ‘separation wall’ in the West Bank has continued / Indiscriminate shelling of Palestinian residential areas continued and 2 Palestinian civilians were killed and dozens were injured / 3 Palestinian houses in Nablus were destroyed by Israeli forces as part of the continuing campaign of retaliation against the families of Palestinians accused of involvement in attacks against Israeli targets / In violation of international law and humanitarian law, a Palestinian detainee was transferred from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip / Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian civilians and property in Hebron / Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose a total siege on the OPTs / A number of Palestinian civilians were injured or arrested by Israeli soldiers at military checkpoints and 2 newly-born twins died at an Israeli military checkpoint

On Jan 1, 04, four violent actions and deportations reported.

On Jan 2, 04, there were five stories including woundings of children, demolitions, forcible sale of Palestinian housing to settlers, deportations of both Palestinians a Swedish MP and two other foreign peace activists.

On Jan 3, 04, four were killed in Nablus including a child, buildings bulldozed, Jenin was reoccupied. A new tunnel to be dug under the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, one of the triggers for the first Intifada; Settlers expand settlements that were allegedly to be dismantled; in another incident two wounded, nine others arrested. In 2003 the Israeli occupation forces committed 33 massacres, each involving the deaths of more three people. The Israeli government shuts down the Indymedia Centre.[1]

On Jan 5, 04, there were eleven separate incidents involving violence against Palestinians.

These are some typical headlines of how the Palestian people feel about their imprisonment and humiliation that rarely, if ever make it into the Western media:

Palestinians Feel Isolated and Abandoned
By Linda S. Heard, Palestine Chronicle 1/4/2004

‘As long as we’re caged, why not make us part of the zoo?’
By Danny Rubinstein, Ha’aretz 1/4/2004

Or perhaps the fact that the much vaunted ‘Geneva Accord’ is a total fraud and at least let the Western media carry an alternative analysis, also freely available to those who care to look:

Geneva Accord: Analysis of the Bankruptcy
By Paul Burrows, Miftah 1/5/2004
It’s hard to talk about the provisions of the recent Geneva Accord, and offer some kind of analysis without reference to the facts on the ground — right now — inside Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It’s hard to talk about the accord without also talking about the 120 Palestinians, including over twenty children, who have been killed since October 4th, when the last suicide attack inside Israel occurred.
www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=2930&CategoryId=5

The abysmal lack of coverage has to be set in the context of the centrality of the Palestinian tragedy to the entire issue of peace in the Middle East. Firstly, the only time Palestine hits the headlines is when a ‘suicide bomber’ strikes, yet Palestinian deaths outnumber Israeli by almost 8 to 1 and moreover, as I think the facts above demonstrate, the violations of Palestinians’ rights extend across the entire spectrum of oppression, from cold-blooded murder to rape, denial of basic rights such as access to medical care, housing, transportation, work and education.

Secondly, without a just solution, peace in the Middle East is simply impossible, as it is a cancer eating into the heart of the Arab and Israeli worlds. The occasional story of human tragedy not only doesn’t make up for the overall crime against humanity being committed by the Israeli government, it removes the context, history and reasons why. It transforms Palestinians into either ‘fanatical’ murderers, driven by an alleged religious ‘fanaticism’ or portrays them as victims of their own leaders.

The policy that Sharon pursues with either the active complicity of western governments or their passive acquiescence, of building a ‘Greater Israel’, has been the policy of the fascist clique now in power since before the founding of Israel in 1948. The excuse advanced that it is Palestinian ‘terrorism’ that has to end first, merely sidesteps the fundamental issue of the illegal – not to mention immoral – actions of the Sharon government in oppressing the Palestinian people on a scale not seen since the end of Apartheid South Africa in 1994.

Compare the coverage of the ‘most evil man since Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein’ with the lack of coverage of the on-going obscenity that is the illegal occupation of Palestine and the pattern is clear. Western media coverage not only favours Israel no matter what it does, it dehumanises Palestinians as part of a deliberate policy that enables the West to justify the treatment they receive at the hands of the occupying forces.

For sources of all the stories itemised above see:

Palestine/Israel News Index December
Palestine/Israel News Index January

Note

  1. http://www.palestine-pmc.com/details.asp?cat=4&id=693
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