The aftermath of a Gaza rocket strike on Ashdod. Photo: Twitter.
Illustrative of the Western media’s anti-Israel bias, the Philadelphia Inquirer (our sole hometown daily broadsheet), ran ten photos last week depicting attacks and damage in Gaza, and none depicting the effects of thousands of Hamas rockets on Israeli civilians.
Excerpts of Inquirer photo captions include: “Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over the Gaza Strip”; “Used artillery shells litter the ground (next to an Israeli tank)”; “Smoke and fire rise from an Israeli air strike over Gaza City”; and “Two boys survey rubble from a damaged apartment building in Gaza City”. This of course came with such A1 headlines as “GAZA EXPLODES.”
Missing were captions such as these: “House in Be’er Sheva destroyed by a Grad rocket launched from Gaza”; “Children in Tel Aviv flee during a heavy rocket attack launched from Gaza”; and “Family surprised by a rocket attack launched from the Gaza Strip”.
This rocketing is not new. Years ago, the Inquirer’s foreign affairs columnist told readers about the schoolyard game little Israeli kids play in the endlessly-rocket-battered town of Sderot: “They shout ‘Color Red! Color Red!’ And then they go hide.?”
But even if the Inquirer ran some photos of Israeli victims, it still wouldn’t have been balanced reporting. The IDF made unprecedented efforts to try to minimize harm to civilians – from whose midst Hamas fired rockets at Israel. But Hamas’ very targets are Israeli civilians. Israel didn’t deploy Iron Dome as a battlefield weapon, but to shoot down rockets aimed at civilians in cities. That hardly any Israeli civilians were killed wasn’t because Hamas wasn’t trying to kill them.
Beyond aiming rockets at Israeli civilians, Hamas was digging a plethora of under-border tunnels to murder and kidnap Israeli civilians, with a mega-terror plot intended for the Jewish high holidays. It was in an effort to destroy this massive nightmarish network of tunnels that Israel sent its IDF into Gaza.
Here are some revealing statistics that the media fails to report on Operation Protective Edge, let alone acknowledge: According to the IDF blog, in the three weeks leading up to July 8, Gaza terrorists fired 250 rockets capable of reaching Israel’s largest population centers and endangering 3.5 million Israelis. More than half-a-million Israelis had less than 60 seconds to find shelter after hearing a rocket siren – ten?s of thousands had only 15 seconds. ?During the war, there were 3,?360 rockets fired from Gaza: 2,303 hit Israel, 115 hit populated areas in Israel, 475 landed Gaza, and 584 were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Thirty-two offensive tunnels were destroyed, many dug deep and encroaching into Israel, lined with weapons, handcuffs, and tranquelizers (for kidnapping) and fortified with concrete and cement. The IDF struck 4,762 terror targets: 1,678 rocket launching facilities, 191 weapons facilities, and 977 command centers. Many of these were in and around civilian residences, hospitals, schools, UN facilities, and mosques, and were precision, surgical strikes. More than 750 terrorists were killed – a statistic rarely seen or mentioned in the media when reporting on the total number (approximately 1,800) killed in Gaza, making it appear these were all civilians.
Most telling of all: despite Hamas’ incessant attacks, including on the Kerem Shalom border crossing, the IDF continued to transfer thousand of supply trucks into Gaza during the conflict from July 8 to August 5, including 1,856 trucks carrying 40,550 tons of supplies; 37,178 tons of foods; 1,694 tons of humanitarian goods; and ?1,029 tons of medicine and medical supplies. Moreover, Israel continued to supply power to Gaza even after a Hamas rocket hit a power station in Israel that was supplying it power. What other country on earth would provide such power and supplies to a sworn enemy that started a war against it?
The recently captured Hamas manual on urban warfare provided proof that Hamas has a sick, twisted ideology that uses civilians as human shields, and tries to exploit the knowledge that the IDF would minimize its attacks knowing civilians were present. Hamas exploited its civilian infrastructure and abused its civilians for terrorist purposes, constituting substantial war crimes. Yet Israel’s inescapable response to intolerable rocket and under-border tunnels last week was crisis front-page news. Outrages in Iraq and elsewhere struggled for the same coverage.
Western Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel must do more than deplore the despicable double-standard with which the Western media vilifies Israel. We must strongly contest the underlying vast historical misperception, as President Obama unfortunately voiced it at Cairo, of the “Palestinians’ displacement by Israel’s founding.”
Israel wasn’t “founded” in 1948, but has been the Jewish homeland, including through uninterrupted physical presence, for three millennia. We must affirmatively make that Jewish homeland case to the world.
Lee Bender is co-president and Jerome Verlin co-vice president of the Greater Philadelphia District of the Zionist Organization of America. They are the authors of “Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-to-Z (Pavilion Press 2013).