Reporting in Gaza: Striving for fairness

January 15, 2009

dean-150Dean Wright is Global Editor, Ethics, Innovation and News Standards. Any opinions are his own.

Let’s say it up front: Almost all of you will find something in this column to take issue with.

That’s because the subject is the conflict in Gaza and perceptions of bias in reporting on it. News consumers detect media bias on any number of subjects, but there is nothing like the continuing Mideast conflict to bring out the passions of partisans on all sides.

Here’s a small sample of some of the more restrained comments that have come in to the Reuters reader feedback line:

–“It seems like the whole world wants to condemn Israel for the war/actions it’s taking. Sorry Reuters but for me, I can see right through your pro Palestinian slant. Why don’t you investigate how a U.N. Camp was used as a staging area for Hamas rockets? …”

–“Your pro Israel reporting from Gaza makes one thing perfectly clear. Israel has some control over Reuters. You are in their pocket. Why else would you choose to slant information?”

­­–“Why does Reuters insist on letting someone such as Nidal al-Mughrabi cover the war on Gaza? His reporting is completely biased and filled with inflammatory rhetoric. Doesn’t Reuters have a reporter that understands both sides of the issue and that can JUST REPORT THE NEWS!! I consider such reporting on your part as an insult to my intelligence. Why must you participate in antisemitic propaganda?”

–“Your pro-Israel news coverage of Gaza is shockingly evil. Shame on you! I’ll get the real news elsewhere.”

All feedback is taken very seriously by the editorial leadership.

“A story as important to so many people globally always is scrutinised and criticised,” says Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger. “I take all the comments seriously, because getting it right and giving a true picture of the situation is fundamental to our mission and to the kind of news service I want to run.”

Reuters is not alone in catching flak on coverage. And we’re not alone in examining that coverage. The BBC and The New York Times have both looked at their coverage, concluding that, generally, it has been fair. But both organizations noted the difficulties of covering the conflict in Gaza, as does Reuters Jerusalem bureau chief Alastair Macdonald.

For the past two years, he says, it has been virtually impossible for Reuters staff in Gaza to leave the territory for training, rest or recuperation, as they are routinely denied exit permits by the Israeli army. The army has also prevented Reuters from sending Arabic-speaking staff based in Jerusalem or the West Bank to Gaza and more recently has banned foreign journalists from Gaza entirely. This means Reuters has been unable to send reinforcements or replacements to the Gaza bureau since the Israeli offensive began on Dec. 27. On Thursday, Reuters and other media were forced to evacuate their offices after an apparent Israeli rocket strike on the Gaza building that houses the bureau.

“Unlike many media organizations who complain that ‘there are no journalists in Gaza,’” says Macdonald, “we are very fortunate to have a team of up to 20 people working for us, led by professional journalists of long standing. Their resources, however, are greatly stretched and, aside from persistent fears for the safety of our colleagues and their families, we work in permanent anxiety that overworked equipment will fail and we will be unable to replace it.”

Within Gaza, says Macdonald, senior Hamas officials have generally accepted Reuters’ right to report independently.

“Hamas officials have largely disappeared from view since the offensive began, so they have not been in a position to restrict our reporting, even if they wanted to,” he says. Since Hamas took over, Reuters journalists “have occasionally faced problems with low-level Hamas police and other representatives who try to prevent us filming certain types of event. Such people are particularly reluctant that we should cover events that they see as evidence of challenges to their authority.”

However, Macdonald says: “We have had frank and open meetings with senior Hamas leaders when we have had concerns and are generally satisfied … We generally feel that (they) respect our independence and give us the freedom to do our jobs. We have reported incidents of official repression, including torture … and quoted people making serious allegations against the authorities.”

The Reuters team on the ground in the region is a mixture of Israelis, Palestinians and other nationalities. Reuters Politics & General News Editor Sean Maguire says most have worked for Reuters for many years. “All of them are well-versed in the need to be scrupulous in our use of language, attentive to our rules on rigorous sourcing and aware of our requirement to produce a balanced news file,” he says.

But in a story with so many different datelines, it’s up to the editing desk to pull the threads together, see though the “fog of war” and ensure that the coverage has balance and appropriate context. This team in London has decades of experience and includes several editors who have worked in the Middle East on assignment or have reinforced the Jerusalem bureau. Maguire and I agree that the editors are acutely aware of both the realities on the ground and the complex history of the region.

Several readers have written to say they see bias in Reuters coverage because they have seen stories, like this one, that don’t tell them directly why Israel launched its offensive on Dec. 27, after Hamas militants ended a six-month truce and started firing more rockets into southern Israel. A search of our stories on the Gaza conflict shows that, while there have been stories that have lacked that context, most have included it or similar explanations of the roots of the conflict.

“We are a real-time news service so we are continually tweaking and improving the news file, hour by hour,” Maguire says. “Some stories with new developments have to be moved very quickly to ensure our customers have the latest information. To do so they need to be short, so they will not contain all the background. However, such stories are quickly updated and lengthened to include the appropriate context.”

Other readers have suggested that stories focusing on the conditions in Gaza reflect a bias against Israel and call for more coverage of the hardships Israelis are suffering in the face of continuing rocket attacks. The focus of the coverage has certainly been within Gaza, because that’s where the story—and the bulk of casualties and destruction—has been.

Still, Reuters has made strong efforts to document the situation in Israel. Macdonald wrote movinglyabout how the shadows of history hang over Yad Mordechai, a kibbutz within sight of the smoke of the Gaza conflict. And Douglas Hamilton reportedon the strong resolve of residents of Sderot, a southern Israeli town that has borne the brunt of Hamas rocket attacks. The townspeople’s advice to the Israeli forces in Gaza: Keep it up. This coverage, in turn, has drawn criticism that it too readily accepts an Israeli view of the history of the region.

Even user-generated content is not immune to charges of bias. Reuters Your View, which solicits photographs from Reuters.com users, was accused of imbalance in publishing pictures of anti-Israel demonstrations, but none from the other side. In the Jan. 2 showcase of Your View pictures there were 10 images of anti-Israel protests from six locations and seven different photographers. No pro-Israel or anti-Hamas pictures were received that week. On Jan. 9, there were images of seven anti-Israel protests from four locations and six photographers. There was one image of a rocket attack on Israel, selected from three pictures that were sent. Again, no pro-Israel demonstration images were received that week, reports Leah Eichler, editor of the online newsroom.

Other readers have suggested that journalist Nidal al-Mughrabi’s first-person accounts from within Gaza, such as this onein which he describes the horrified reactions of his children during an Israeli raid, disqualify him from reporting on the conflict. Some readers have suggested that it’s impossible for a journalist to set aside his feelings and report objectively. However, I think a close reading of the article shows that while al-Mughrabi’s first reaction was to make sure his family was safe, he quickly set about the journalist’s work of filing a complete, accurate report of what was going on. “That is what you would expect from a seasoned and responsible reporter of Nidal’s high caliber,” says Maguire.

“I think first-person accounts bring to life the drama and the horror of this conflict,” says Maguire. “Journalists are human beings as well, and it is honest of our reporter Nidal to acknowledge his concern as a parent and the fear of his children when they found themselves under bombardment.”

Indeed, all journalists are called on almost daily to set aside their personal feelings or politics as we objectively cover wars, elections and other stories. Some partisans will never believe it’s possible for journalists to do that. Thankfully, I see it happen every day.

Editor-in-Chief Schlesinger puts it this way:

“Reuters News has journalists from 80 different nationalities working around the world, sometimes in their homes and often in other places. There are certainly times when events affect them and their families personally. But our professional ethics and our company’s Trust Principles mean they try their utmost to put their personal feelings aside in the interest of telling the story truthfully and without bias. As an organisation we have our standards and editing procedures in place to safeguard our report. As editor-in-chief, I take my responsibility for maintaining our standards extremely seriously, and will not tolerate willful breaches. ”

So—has Reuters News given people reason to believe we might be biased against Israel? Perhaps, if they believe a journalist can never separate his reporting of what he sees from what he may feel. And, yes, there have been stories—not many, but some—that have lacked context and have seemed imbalanced. We need to be more vigilant in making sure that all our stories carry appropriate context, as we can’t assume that every reader has read every one of our stories and thus can see our overall lack of bias.

And what seems to be pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli reporting to readers on one continent may not raise any eyebrows on another. It’s also fair to say that articles from different news organizations have differences in tone. That’s good. Who would want one big, bland news source for the world? Reuters News is produced for a global audience and there are bound to be different reactions in the United States, Europe and other regions.

But has there been systematic bias against either side? No. I believe Reuters journalists–-the text, photo and video journalists on the ground and the editors who pull it all together– have, by and large, produced journalism that is fair and as complete as possible under the most difficult circumstances. Can we do better? Surely. Will we satisfy the partisans on both sides? Probably not.

Comments
138 comments so far

Just once, I’d like to see a Reuters reporter ask one of the Palestinians in the streets (and not a Palestinian Spokesman or Official) a simple question. Ask a person who may have lost a child or a husband or a friend in the fighting if that person would want Hamas to stop shelling Israel if it would mean an end to the conflict. Just once – ask that question. Why don’t any Reuters reporters ever ask that question?. It is because the reporter knows what the answer would be – which would be “NO.” That would be too truthful and revealing.

There cannot be fair reporting of attacks that hurt civilians in Gaza unless you are willing to admit that Hamas has only targeted civilians. The fact is that Hamas and the civilians that voted them in power deserve everything that happens to them and more. If they cannot be civil. If they cannot accept Israel and their right to exist then Hamas must williingly suffer the consequences. I say, you send a rocket into an Israeli civilian area, Isreal should send 10 back in return. For everyone one you fire we will fire 10, then and only then will Hamas get a clue. They are reckless and hateful. There is not fair coverage that despite the incursion Israel has tried not to target civilians. But Hamas targets them on purpose. So, enough is enough. Stop firing rockets at Israeli civilians or face retribution that targets civilians in Gaza. This is something Israel has not done, but they get no credit for their attempt at some measure of civility. What about Israel dropping leaflets and warning civilians to flee an area about to be attacked. The problem is that Israel has been to civil and Gaza has not faced the same treatment as Israel. As far as blockades, Israel must do this to survive. Inspite of blockades Gaza has managed to be well supplied with weapons and rockets. If they would have directed their efforts to supplying their people with aid and resources instead of weapons, their would be no war. This is Hamas and Hamas needs to be eliminated. If they won’t stop, then they should recieve in kind the kind of indiscriminate civilian attacks they have inflicted on Israel.

Posted by pezz | Report as abusive

The world has not read or choose to understand that Palestine never was or ever will be a country or a race or a people. The Arabs never gave them a chance pre-modern Israel, and never offered them a region of their own. The religion of Islam treated them like dirt and only finds them useful idiots to keep anti-western influences out of their backwards world. There is no fairness to be had because fairness is not the issue but simply survival. Given my druthers, Israel is the only hope the world has to keep in check the Islamic rush to wipe out the world they don’t like to replace it it with what? A state like Iran? Like Sudan? Give me a break. Before you pillory me I am not a Jew and not a “Israel is always right” backer. I simply think that Islamic culture as it sits now will be the bane of the world

Posted by Gary Kaiser | Report as abusive

Glad to see you trotted out the trusty old hack of here is reader feedback saying we are pro-Israel and here is feedback saying we are pro-Palestine so then of course we are being objective.

It’s you crazy reader’s bias not ours. We are professional liberal journalists after all.

Posted by Media Blather | Report as abusive

I wish the best for the civilians on both sides of the conflict. But if one would examine history, the Gaza ghetto uprising bears a very strong resemblence to the WW2 Warsaw ghetto uprising.

One Jewish British government MP stated: “I suppose the leaders of the Warsaw ghetto could have been branded terrorist as well.”

Let’s just call a spade a spade and see this as the world stopping the Gazans from meeting the same fate as the people in the Warsaw ghetto.

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive

I hope Israel gets charged with war crimes, they show no compassion for the lives of others and so in my book they are criminals, this is 2009 and the killing of civilian populations not acceptable.

Posted by tareca | Report as abusive

Give Israel a piece of the USA, they love each other so it is fitting for them to be one.

Posted by tareca | Report as abusive

Hey tareca, why don’t you help to have the Palestinians emigrate to your country or to Syria, Lebanon or Jordan? Oh, that is because those countries don’t want them or to help them. Stop it.

Posted by Gary Kaiser | Report as abusive

Well, if you’ve pissed off partisans on both sides, that pretty much assures that you’ve given an honest vision from both perspectives. I may or may not agree with the opinions of the actors in your news reports when they are giving opinions but your reporter’s role isn’t to filter what people think; it’s to report what people think and what has happened. I also find it fairly amusing that your readers want to argue the Israeli/Palestinian (or, as your biblical scholars will know them, the Philistines) situation with you guys. You’re a news agency. In many respects, you’re not supposed to have an opinion of your own. I don’t think, but they apparently do, that a news organization should be in search of pravda – the name of the 20th century’s most mendacious newspaper but which is also a Russian word meaning “the ultimate truth”. Pravda isn’t found anywhere but is a synthesis based on everybody’s truth. So, please, continue to report everybody’s truth – Israeli, Palestinian, American, German, Russian, Chinese, whatever. I’ll take care of the synthesis.

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

Most of the world knows, what Isreal is doing by killing and wiping out the palestinians with the help of US except the American people because of the bias and jewish control media. By being as brutal as they can be, they feel they can put the fear in the heart of the palestinanians so they can leave their lands by fear. When you kill innocent people to justify any reason, you can never win. When you occuppy some ones land to justify to pressure them to accept your your demands, you can never win. Read the attached and you may understand the world has known for hundreds of years.
http://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=d7f df34cf4&view=att&th=11ee5d78d28375d7&att id=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=0.1&zw

Posted by Tony Lord | Report as abusive

Reading Dean Wright’s “maybe” and “possible” is like listening to the fox explain why the hen house is in such an uproar.

Posted by Roger Laird | Report as abusive

What world do you losers live in? Pay I am not Jewish or Palestinian, but you people need to get a grip! It has nothing to do with religion. In 2006 these Islamic Nazis took possession of the Gaza strip, which is unoccupied except by Hamas and is Jew-less (because the Palestinians would kill any Jews that moved in their state). Hamas has turned Gaza into a terrorist fortress, launching rockets from Palestinian schoolyards and hospitals into Israeli schoolyards, hospitals and townships to ensure that the maximum number of civilians – both Jews and Muslims – would die for their cause. They will win the Armageddon they are planning, they boast, because “the Jews love life and we love death.” The Palestinians are the only people in history to support in their majority a national death cult, to worship the murderers of little children (including their own) and to proclaim them saints and “martyrs.” The miseries Palestinians have suffered are self-inflicted, the inevitable consequence of staking their national ambitions on the genocide of another people, while embracing a death cult for themselves. Hamas is a dirt bag, uncivilized group of power hunger thugs. I pity, the Palestinian People, but they voted these psychotic idiots into power, so it is their responsibly to suffer the consequences and to remove them. Hamas murders civilians indiscriminately yet all around the world, across Europe and throughout the United States, Muslim and secular radicals are rallying to this Nazi cause, supporting Hamas and attacking Israel and the Jews. Supporting Hamas in this situation is analogous to arguing with the District School Board to hire Ted Bundy and Charles Manson as teachers for your child’s middle school.

Posted by cris | Report as abusive

I’m very closely following Reuters’ coverage on the war in Gaza and I’m giving full credit to that coverage. I don’t think that reporting from Gaza is anti-Israeli anyhow. Although I’m a muslim from Turkey, I have many Jewish and also some Israeli friends, not feeling any antipathy towards Jewish and/or Israeli people. And also an orthopedic surgeon, very close friend of mine lives in Gaza, who until yesterday (friday) was unable to leave the hospital where he works, trying to give medical care to large influx of seriously wounded people, and his family is under permanent threat from bombings. Another my acquaintance, also surgeon lost his son who tried to help wounded in an ambulance. At the same time I’m sympathetic with the Israeli citizens suffering from Hamas’ rocket fire, and I think this issue is well enough accentuated in the reports. But thinking honestly, can loss of 3 civilian plus 10 soldiers’ life from the Israeli side can match with more than 1000 dead and 5000 injured Palestinians, mostly civilians? Is it normal to claim this huge figure a collateral damage or show it as a normal consequence of the anti-Hamas bombings? Of course, many of Hamas’ activists are guilty of attacking Israel and deserve to be punished, but what about those civilians? What could think people if these were Israelis or citizens of a European country? This really is a non-justified and brutal attack from Israel, not maybe a genocide, but a real massacre and butchery. In my opinion killing so many civilians is a war crime for which I think Israeli side should be blamed and criminals be put to trial. But certanly, and unfortunately that will not happen. I’m very disappointed with the Israeli public who overwhelmingly continues to support this carnage. I wish to thank of all reporters, not only from Reuters, who under very difficult conditions and constant danger are showing this tragedy to the whole world.

Posted by Levent Inanc | Report as abusive

When people have different opinions on a subject then you know you are doing your job. Keep it up.

Posted by David Mensah | Report as abusive

Until the pro-Isreal news learns to give a non-bias view of the war, the world will not be truely informed on the Isreali atrosities. When will America stop coddling Isreal and give equal funds and weapons to the Gaza Soldiers? There were no headlines offered to the world when Isreali soldiers were killed. Your News Organization needs to be in the front lines with the men of Gaza for the news to be fair.

Reuters’ insistence on publicizing these anti-Israeli “demonstrations”, which are really nothing more than organized propaganda rallies full of people who are not citizens of the nations in which they make their bizarre demands, are inherently biased. There is no reporting on the real issue — who is encouraging, organizing, equipping, and subsidizing these people, and why.

Obviously, hundreds of non-citizens don’t spontaneously decide to, of their own volition, congregate in city centers and make a spectacle of themselves. When Reuters decides to report on how these “demonstrations” are organized and carried out, then they will be doing a service to their readers. Until that time, Reuters is simply aiding and abetting organized groups of terrorists.

Posted by Orenthal | Report as abusive

Thanks to Reuters, we know that all of those demonstrators in various part of the world share similar demand: to stop the blooshed in Gaza. ALthough I strongly reject violence and addressing all the Israelis as killers- that’s unfortunately happens with provocators and symapthisants of terrorism present there-thanks to Reuters we all now that there were present many prominent figures of societies. It’s ridiculous to call all of these people organized foreigners, sympathisants of terrorism. All we know that in London there were well known figures like Annie Lennox, former London mayor and many more human rights’ activists who want to protest to massacres committed by the Israeli army.

Posted by Levent Inanc | Report as abusive

The palestinian people democratically elected an organization that sees as it’s role to destroy Israel. Why should the palestinians be punished for their democratic choice to destroy their neighbour?

Posted by Oscar | Report as abusive

Cris, has it right.Six million Jews died.Israel exists.Over and over again Israel has tried to make peace.
It’s really in the hands of the Muslims.In 2006 I travelled in Israel during that time I ate in Arab restaurants,spoke to Israeli Arabs who worked in the hotel industry and to our bus driver Yacov and he said 90% of the Arab people in the West Bank want peace and the other 10% are playing politics.Israel has no choice but to defend itself. After losing 6 million people,you might think the Arabs would have more compassion.Unfortunately,that is not the way it is.Israel’s only goal is peace, to get along with its neighbors.Israel would much rather be using its money to solve problems than to defend itself.Till peace comes Israel will defend itself

Posted by steve | Report as abusive

The problem is that in an effor to be “fair” you draw moral equivalency between criminal actions of Hamas and Israel’s right for self defence. Israel does not purposely put her own childen in harm’s way and is not bent on murdering enemy’s civilians, like Hmamas is. Any reporting that does not take that difference into account is unfair and inbalanced.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Thank the heavens (pick a god,any god) for Reuters. Your reporting has been excellent. The best in the business. I trust Reuters more than any other news source in the US. If both sides attack then you are doing your job!
I was concerned when Thompson bought Reuters, thinking it might be a move similiar to Rupert Mudoch buying the Wall Street Journal system. You have held up! In a “free country” – the impartiality of media is critical. I know political pressure must be overwhelming. Real time with appropriate contextual analysis is fantastic! Do not bend! Great journalism is the product of heroism.

Posted by Guru John | Report as abusive

I thought either Reuters or Guardian could provide me with unbiased news from middle east (coz of its non-Jewish control), but I am loosing hopes now. I am not sure any civilised human being will justify Israeli atrocities other than a pure Zionist (not more than few millions). But I think their internet automated tools e.g. Megaphone Desktop tool are changing facts and bringing their lies to more balanced sources. Please reuters don’t follow the path of Murdoch or Big Big Contradictions(BBC).

Posted by James | Report as abusive

Dear sir,

I think the cause of the Palestinian people will be better serve if the world actually paid less (disproportionate) attention to them.

You don’t see similar reportage covering wars in Africa where way more women and children are being slaughtered daily and you certainly don’t see the ‘che gueverra wannabe’ brigade up in arms over it.

Fact is that the press whilst castigating Israel should also lay the blame more strongly on HAMAS who have been utterly callous with the lives of its citizenry, whom they have treated as bargaining chips with the media circus.

Contrary to popular opinion on the streets, much of the Arab world have been relatively restrained because frankly, they are tired of the Palestinians and their inability to get their act together.

Why should the Arab world and the world in general continue to bail out the Palestinians when so many others are suffering more horrific fates in the world?

Not that this is a similar situation but I just returned from a business trip to Singapore where on independence, they had a per capita equivalent to Ghana, massive unemployment, no resources, hnterland or for that matter a population, and racial tension on an island the size of Manhattan at best. But they made it a success.

It’s time for the Press to stop making excuses for Palestinians and for the Palestinians to make the right choice in denouncing HAMAS for the irresponsible entity that it is.

Ask yourself this. What use is the tactic of firing rockets into a country which you know will have no compunction in punishing your own people (children) with overwhelming force. Sure there is a better way in negotiating for border access. I would venture to suggest that showing responsibility,industry and fortitude is a better way of demonstrating a right to statehood.

The sooner the press begins to highlight these factors other than holding Palestinians as subjects for pity and doling out handouts, the better.

the sooner, the moderates are given the platform by Israel, the Arab world and the press at the expense of these clowns in HAMAS, the better.

It’s time for Palestinians to stop blaming others and have a good look at themselves.

Sincerely,

George

Beirut, Lebanon

Posted by george | Report as abusive

“Israel has tried to make peace.”

and no. israel is the only country on this planet who is trying to make global wars. they dont want peace. peace is killing their strategy. they are not winning markets and land with peace.i mean, if you dont see that, then you must be one of them.

Posted by the truth | Report as abusive

I can understand israili forces, killing people is their job. all these comments backing them is “disgraceful”.Since 1948 palestinians are losing land, freedom and in Gaza beeing starved for more than 2 years. these 3 weeks of genocide or nothing else can efface the memory that resisting is unacceptable by zionists and their acolyte american neofascist.

Posted by Abdelhamid | Report as abusive

Dean, while I agree with you that the full text of Reuters articles is fair and thorough, I don’t think it has much to do with people’s perception of bias. Think of the headline as carrying 50% of people’s focus, with each paragraph following it having half the impact as the last. I encourage you to look at the last 50 headlines of articles in that region to get a sense of the bias some may feel (you can actually see the tone change at times). I know why the editors choose those headlines (and refine them within minutes of going out), journalism is a business that must pay the bills, and some headlines draw a bigger crowd than others. An article that talks about a child being hurt is far more likely to draw clicks than a headline about Hamas hiding out near that child to avoid being shot at. But your article seemed to avoid this topic of the business of journalism completely. Perhaps you don’t believe it, or perhaps it is just something journalists have come to loath about their editors and thus themselves. Regardless, by publishing your editorial, it invited such observations into the public. Your reply to my comment would be greatly appreciated.

Best,
Leonard

Posted by Leonard | Report as abusive

Coming to Reuters’ website, I imagined an average reader would be more knowledgeable on the subject matter than your typical American news outlet; I was wrong. I can see articles vis-a-vis Israel-Palestine conflicts being riddled with pro-Israeli Internet bands who swarm websites such as this and unload an array of rehearsed, formulated tautological pap to sway the public opinion.

Aside from the usual occupation and the misery of Palestinian people enduring on a daily basis at the hands of Israel, a year after the death of Arafat, Bush administration, headed by Rice and Israeli advisers “demanded” Abbas, who up to this point has proved his unflinching loyalty to Israel’s agenda and their pursue in stymieing any meaningful hope for peace process, to hold a free election.

Abbas, along with some of Israeli generals (to their credit), decried that they were not ready and any immediate election would result in an undetermined outcome. But of course, Bush and Rice coerced Palestinian Authorities to let the election to go on which at the end Hamas came out as a winner. Pretty soon after, Bush, with the pressure from Israel, send delegations to Abbas demanding him to dismantle the nascent government led by Hamas (how ironic that right after a democratic election, one seeks to decimate the very election he was touting just a few months before). Notice how this very decision depleted the support for Fatah.

After a few attempts by Rice to push Abbas to topple Hamas and Abbas’ lack of fortitude to concede to their plan, the US and Israel cut off funding PA which incidentally damaged their already tainted image of pro-Israeli/American view in the eyes of Palestinians. Meanwhile, a hand-picked US head of securities, Dahlan, who, notwithstanding of some neocon’s dissatisfaction with his record, became Bushes’ darling. Dahlan deployed a cruel way of punishing Hamas by employing a vicious methodology of torturing, kidnapping, and murdering Hamas members which later on would backfire.

Along the way, the effort was focused on beefing up Fatah’s party, militaristically and financially. This was supposed to be done quickly but got bugged down in the US congress for a fear of weapons being misused by PA against Israel but the outcome was worse than their initial concern. Plan B was devised to ask other Arab countries to train and weaponize Fatah’s forces as they were getting ready to stage a coup deta against Hamas in Gaza. Of course the Arab countries, namely Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia were going to be paid directly through Abbas’ account.

However, the plan was leaked on two occasions which sent a red flag to Hamas leadership as there was going to be a plot by Fatah to eradicate Hamas’ presence in Gaza (Hamas found out about the mobilization through a leak by a Jordanian paper which had disclosed aid to Abbas by the US and later on, when the first batch of trained Fatah forces were sent to Gaza through Egypt, Hamas was alerted that the coup was being staged). Hamas ,seeing how the newly trained forces descending on Gaza, was left with no other choice to preempt the coup deta and take out Fatah’s core elements. Even some of more extreme branches of Fatah movement acted neutral and the whole thing got spiral out of control which led to a week-long civil war between Hamas and Fatah and ultimately Hamas taking over Gaza.

In reality, this whole mess was a plot devised by the US and Israel to violently wipe Hamas off through proxy forces loyal to Abbas’. Of course as we all know, this didn’t go as plan so “plan C” was drawn to take Hamas out through direct Israel’s engagement. This had required a temporary truce which everyone was sure that neither Israel nor Hamas would honor because Israel was and is adamant in lifting its siege of the enclave coastline which in turn would have made Hamas to retaliate in some way. In either case, Israeli’s intelligent agencies have been relentlessly gathering information about Hamas for the last 8 months for the upcoming operations. So we can all easily conclude that the invasion was inevitable and calculated. And of course, the supposed incursions of Israel on Nov. 4 didn’t make much publicity because as everyone knows, it was a historical election night in the US history. Not to mention that the assault crafted before the new administration taking office to ensure Israel would have a full support of the US because after all, this has been Rice’s big F’up so far in the Middle East.

It’s amazing to me that no one has ever demanded Israeli to left its grip on Gaza to give an already crippled economy a chance to breath which by itself constitutes a violation of international law and the very truce they had agreed upon. Hamas has repeatedly asserted that if Israel opens up the borders, it would cease its operations but Israel has, for the last 3 years, closed off the region entirely from the sea, sky, and ground. Israel, along with the US and Egypt’s puppet government, has made an agreement to keep the borders close on Gazans. This is a blatant provocation that Israel has instigated all along. The whole scheme is to put people in a pressure cooker so they would react and provide them with an excuse to go after Hamas.

The entire plot has also worked in diminishing Fatah’s and ultimately Palestinian security forces’ ability to effectively govern itself. This has happened to the divide-and-conquer nature of whole aiding-Fatah/cutting-funds-from-Fatah which has made them even look weaker in the eyes of the Palestinians. Moreover, this schism has ensured both Fatah and now Hamas, artificially, remain weak enough that neither of them be able to flagrantly make a cohesive decision with regard to the faith of the Palestinian state. A stalemate now can be dragged on for the next half a dozen years. Translation: Israel is saved from yet another decade of land confiscation and one step closer to eliminating a hope for a viable Palestinian state.

Posted by Elox | Report as abusive

The following speech by Sir. Gerald Kaufman sums up the truth nicely:

by Sir Gerald Kaufman

I was brought up as an orthodox Jew and a Zionist. On a shelf in our kitchen, there was a tin box for the Jewish National Fund, into which we put coins to help the pioneers building a Jewish presence in Palestine.

I first went to Israel in 1961 and I have been there since more times than I can count. I had family in Israel and have friends in Israel. One of them fought in the wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973 and was wounded in two of them. The tie clip that I am wearing is made from a campaign decoration awarded to him, which he presented to me.

I have known most of the Prime Ministers of Israel, starting with the founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Golda Meir was my friend, as was Yigal Allon, Deputy Prime Minister, who, as a general, won the Negev for Israel in the 1948 war of independence.

My parents came to Britain as refugees from Poland. Most of their families were subsequently murdered by the Nazis in the holocaust. My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed.

My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The current Israeli Government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count.

On Sky News a few days ago, the spokeswoman for the Israeli army, Major Leibovich, was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians — the total is now 1,000. She replied instantly that “500 of them were militants.”

That was the reply of a Nazi. I suppose that the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants.

The Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asserts that her Government will have no dealings with Hamas, because they are terrorists. Tzipi Livni’s father was Eitan Livni, chief operations officer of the terrorist Irgun Zvai Leumi, who organised the blowing-up of the King David hotel in Jerusalem, in which 91 victims were killed, including four Jews.

Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism. Jewish terrorists hanged two British sergeants and booby-trapped their corpses. Irgun, together with the terrorist Stern gang, massacred 254 Palestinians in 1948 in the village of Deir Yassin. Today, the current Israeli Government indicate that they would be willing, in circumstances acceptable to them, to negotiate with the Palestinian President Abbas of Fatah. It is too late for that. They could have negotiated with Fatah’s previous leader, Yasser Arafat, who was a friend of mine. Instead, they besieged him in a bunker in Ramallah, where I visited him. Because of the failings of Fatah since Arafat’s death, Hamas won the Palestinian election in 2006. Hamas is a deeply nasty organisation, but it was democratically elected, and it is the only game in town. The boycotting of Hamas, including by our Government, has been a culpable error, from which dreadful consequences have followed.

The great Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, with whom I campaigned for peace on many platforms, said: “You make peace by talking to your enemies.”

However many Palestinians the Israelis murder in Gaza, they cannot solve this existential problem by military means. Whenever and however the fighting ends, there will still be 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza and 2.5 million more on the west bank. They are treated like dirt by the Israelis, with hundreds of road blocks and with the ghastly denizens of the illegal Jewish settlements harassing them as well. The time will come, not so long from now, when they will outnumber the Jewish population in Israel.

It is time for our Government to make clear to the Israeli Government that their conduct and policies are unacceptable, and to impose a total arms ban on Israel. It is time for peace, but real peace, not the solution by conquest which is the Israelis’ real goal but which it is impossible for them to achieve. They are not simply war criminals; they are fools.

Gerald Bernard Kaufman is a British Labour Member of Parliament. Sir Kaufman made the statement above during the 15 January 2009 House of Commons debate on Gaza in the United Kingdom.

It can also be viewed on youtube:
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/kaufman1 70109.html

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

Please stop taking Israel sided story and approach , the true present picture of palestinans are really pathetic where thousands of innocenet women, children had been killed by Israelies forces ruthlessly.Stop this Gaza Holocaust where 1.5 millions people living under severe shortages of basic needs,and Israel had broken all worst records war crime and they should be put under justice.

Posted by YAMS | Report as abusive

Mr. Wright: My objection with the media’s coverage of the Gaza conflict is an anti-black African bias. Where are your reporters in Congo and Darfur and why aren’t expodentially more stories written about the deaths there? Is it because you are racist against Africans or you think Arab lives are the most important on earth? (The two aren’t entirely unreleated, as the Palestinian Authority is a member of the Arab League which has sided with Sudan when the United Nations seeks to enforce cease fires there by empowering the African Union interention).

Posted by Jake Hewitt | Report as abusive

Yeah, you reuter folks are most surely ANTI-ISREAL. Like you’re ANTI-BUSH, ANTI-REPUBLICAN, ANTI-CAUCASIAN…

Posted by cal | Report as abusive

The trouble with the subject of discussing the news from Israel and Palestine is that Israel has blocked media access to international journalists. One must keep this in mind when accusing Reuters or other mass-media organisations that they are somehow in favour of the Palestinians.

Let’s make it clear: if you want balanced news, Israel must give back the freedom of journalists to move around. And that’s a more interesting subject – why has Israel blocked Western journalists from entering Gaza and “grounded” them somewhere in Israel near the border?

It is all the Jews’ fault, isn’t? They were at fault for letting the Nazis slaughter themselves during Second World War and now they are guilty of defending themselves, are they not? And what pisses me off even more, is that any of those who complain about Israel’s use of excessive force would do EXACTLY the same, were they in Israelis’ shoes.
My philosophy is: don’t start something you now you going to pay dearly for. Once started, don’t whine – it is your own fault.

Posted by nemo | Report as abusive

Thank you for seeking to be reasonably objective in your reporting.

News is a human enterprise. All writing of news requires someone to observe and perceive events. No person sees all factors in any event; all must “connect the dots” in some way. All aspects or contributing factors in an event cannot be reported and the processes of interpretation and selection necessitate some kind of bias.

Additionally,there is history of conflict in this region with background causes stretching for millennia, one that cannot be re-told every time a bomb drops.

I wouldn’t care for 1000pg Reuters articles that discuss the Mid-Eat conflict in full each day(!)

Thanks for getting the world at least some information on what is occurring.

Best wishes for the safety of your people.

Posted by adam | Report as abusive

Over 1100 hundreds PALESTINIANS are dead…Mostly women and children’s JUSTICE can be delayed but justice can not be denied we want Israeli Government and Army get charged for WAR CRIME and CRIME against humanity……

They have shown no mercy they are Barbaric and Savage people…..Apology Not accepted….. Or lets Tel vive get bombarded day and night for few days and once over 1100 hundreds Israelis get killed then we all should Apologies To the Israelis…..

Posted by speakamerica | Report as abusive

Good commentary and point is well made, but keep in mind Hamas is the real culprit in all of this issue,it isn’t all of the Palestinian people, but it is those who elected Hamas to represent them. If truly the majority of Palestinians want Hamas to represent them, then it is obvious what their true intentions are all about. War is not a game of kill the bad guys, war is exactly what it always has been and innocent always get the same receiving end as the guilty. Bombs are only smart to the limit of hitting the target not only the guilty ones. Hamas will never change its stripes and there really isn’t any other way to deal with this kind of organization. If majority of Palestinians truly want peace, then they need to really terminate the Hamas organization from within, and begin to reprogram their 4 & 5 year old and older children to be citizens for peace and not war. To be truthful, if Hamas kept launching as many rockets of death to the US as they have Israel, we would even be discussing this subject of Palestinian peace, because the carpet bombing would have wiped them completely of the world map. So when you think about it 1200 people is far less then 3000 who lost their lives in the US, and all of the 3000 were innocent civilian citizens, so in a way the Palestinians really need to consider themselves lucky that Israel is only trying to get the Hamas regime and understand their future depends on their own actions wether it be through elections or other means, Hamas is only looking out for its organization and will use anyone or anything at means to harbor and protect themselves. This is only my opinion but Hamas is a bunch of chicken excrement (s_ _ ts), which is very similar to Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

Posted by Newk | Report as abusive

Before the First Intifadah, reports of Israeli military conflicts with Arab armies and Palestinian resistance forces routinely informed readers that the report had been “passed by the Israeli Military Censor”. Today Israel still enforces a military censorship but it operates unseen and far more powerfully in distorting what people inside and outside the theatre of conflict get to see, read or hear. Allegedly in the interests of discouraging the witting or inadvertent publicising of information of possible use to enemies, Israel enforces a military-administered censorship on conflict reportage. The big stick is that an agency’s credentials to despatch reporters to a front under Israeli protection may be lifted if the Office of the Censor deems that an agency has crossed this line. Arguing that the Internet has made all reporting equally available to Israel’s enemies, this stick is used as well against foreign media operating in the State of Israel but reporting to any audience outside Israel e.g. in Canada, U.S., Europe etc. This was exposed during the Lebanon war of 2006. It was used to strip the Iranian PRESS TV reporter of credentials at one of the Israeli crossings into Gaza during the current conflict. His “crime” was to report to a mainly Iranian audience the content of an MSNBC report from the US, by Alan Greenspan’s wife Andrea Mitchell, that US forces were at the Rafah Crossing aiding the Israeli containment of Hamas.

Posted by Sam MacLean | Report as abusive

No Sir, your reporting was not biased. As a child a lived under the dictatorship of the Nazis and I survived the relentless bombing of the Allies. All the fear, the anguish, the helpless of the victims of Gaza came back thinking of these children. Air attacks are the most cowardly form of warfare. Any civilized society should abstain! Is Israel such a society? The word terror means fear. Who has more to fear the children of Gaza or those of Israel?
Edwin G. Altinger

Posted by Edwin G. Altinger | Report as abusive

I am one of your pro-Israel readers that have written in stating that you are sensationalists rather then journalists. I have read your article about striving for fairness and I appreciate your point. After some thought I have come to the conclusion that your problem is not in the reporting, it is rather in the use of Headlines.

Your headlines have been almost exclusively “Israel strikes …” or “Israeli Air force …” and completing the balanced reporting in the body of the text. Today’s generation is almost completely illiterate. Very few people read further then the first paragraph.

The headlines are what inflames the public and sparks riots.

If Hamas attacks again as they promised, I want to see a big headline “Hamas breaks cease fire!” or “Hamas executes 95 Palestinians” which is usually relegated to the bottom of the article.

Posted by Gideon | Report as abusive

I have a solution! Dig up the the top 10 feet of ground all over Israel as well as all structures, move it all to a site in Arizona (provided by the US). Move everyone to the new site, and there would be a thousand years of peace!

Posted by Obie | Report as abusive

Thecomment by Obie reminds me of Noam Chomsky’s point that if American had been genuine after WWII in providing a home for European Jews they would have given them Long Island, or a piece of Germany, instead of imposing them on a people who were not responsible for the Holocaust. They did this by upholding Zionist land claims to the territory, a logic that if applied to America would mean giving it all back to Native people (maybe not a bad idea!)

Posted by David Goodfellow | Report as abusive

I noticed that most of the people who are claiming you are biased are the ones who are actually. Keep up the reporting of the events, and I pray your reporters stay safe from harm!

Posted by ray | Report as abusive

I commend the news writers at Reuters for the courage they have shown during the past weeks, and the editors for their integrity in striving for a higher standard of journalism, one which allows the readers to draw their own conclusions.

I do take issue however with some of the accusations hurled at Reuters that they only represent the Palestinian side of the war. Perhaps these readers would do well to consider if there is news worth reporting in Israel, beyond what has been reported, considering the other events going on in Gaza. When on a single day a half dozen Hamas rockets land in fields in Sderot, without causing human harm, is that worth reporting? Perhaps. Does it take precedence over 3 hospitals being bombed in a singal day? Or a 7 year old girl being found after 4 days without food or water, surrounded by the remains of what used to be her father and brother? Absolutely not.

If Hamas was inflicting the same degree, scale, or extent harm on Israel as the Israeli have inflicted on the Palestinians, the people accusing Reuters of prejudice may be justified. Given the one sided nature of this conflict, and the indiscriminant targeting of civilians on such a massive scale by the IDF, Reuters’ critics have no ground to stand on.

What people seem to forget is that lives are being lost. 3 Israeli civilians were killed by Hamas rockets, and that is completely unacceptable. Under no pretext or circumstances however are those 3 Israeli civilians worth the lives of 1200 Palestinians and this tragedy is only made worse by the fact that 1 in 3 people killed by the IDF were under the age of 15.

When Israel feels such pain, criticize the international media for unfairly representing the Israeli side of the story. While they continue to behave as they have, turn your criticism and outrage towards your own governments who perpetrate these acts (if you are Israeli), or publicly support them on the world stage, as my Canadian government shamefully has.

With respect,

G.

Posted by Ghassan | Report as abusive

Nidal al-Mughrabi. Dan Williams. Alastair Macdonald. Jonathan Wright. These are the names of Reuters’ stable of anti-Israel writers and editors who for years have been whacking Israel in their propaganda pieces thinly disguised as journalism.

I have a PhD in Management and have done extensive research on how print media employ various insidious techniques to slant an article. Here is just one example of deceptive practices that run rampant in Reuters articles:

Nearly every day for years, Israeli civilian communities suffer traumatic rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza. The Reuters website almost never reports on these attacks UNTIL…

Israel finally retaliates and Palestinians are injured. Reuters immediately produces a lengthy article documenting the extent of the damage and injuries complete with personal details (and frequently a photo) of Palestinian families who have been affected.

In the article, the reader MAY discover that the Israeli retaliation was precipitated by weeks of daily rocket attacks by Hamas terrorists. Occasionally, this essential contextual information is not even provided. When it is, it will typically appear ten or eleven paragraphs down in the story, consist of perhaps one sentence, and is frequently reported as something that Israel “claims” or “insists”.

Apparently, Reuters correspondents have no difficulty reporting as fact, instances of Palestinian suffering but employ language that cynically questions the same when Israelis are involved.

There are many, many more examples of Reuters’ systematic bias and duplicity in their Middle East reporting that cannot be elucidated here due to space limitations. I am appalled that Reuters not only persists in its transparent partisanship in this critical conflict but then has the gall to invite one of its Global Editors to insist it does not occur.

Posted by HIS | Report as abusive

Let me ask the Ethics Editor: how can Israel be mentioned in any piece without wondering in print how a “Jewish state” is not based on mistreatment of non-Jews?
I mean, recall Jesse Owens, an African-American track champion at the 1936 Olympics in White-Racist Berlin–wasn’t the story “from day one” that Hitler’s regime was demonstrably bogus?
My logic is too complex. By not denouncing Jewish supremacy as the first principle of Israeli law, any journalistic effort about Israel apologizes for it. You mention Israeli denial of access in or out (!) of Gaza. Every Reuters story should open with a disclaimer: Israeli restrictions make the balance and accuracy of this piece subject to question.
Agree, disagree.

Posted by Christopher Rushlau | Report as abusive

Want to call out bias on the Web in an immediate, visible way? Go here: http://www.spinspotter.com

Reuters biased?
I worked in their Tel Aviv office during the ’80s and the bureaus chief’s claim to fame was fishing Ayatollah Kumeini, hiding in France, out of obscurity.
It’s not what’s reported, it’s what’s not reported that counts, as your anti-Israel (I cannot call them pro-Gaza) posts confirm.

Hamas is an organisation that is devoted to wiping out Israel, sponsored by the lunatic regime in Iran and butressed every Friday by countless Imams’ preachings. The Hamas attacks are part of the same fanatic plan as the Mumbai bombings and Al Quada. Mr Ethics [sic] editor, has Reuters every run reports analysing these link? Or why the Mumbai bombers targeted a Jewish (not Israeli) centre?
After the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem became a follower of Hitler, he created a “Palestine” national movement. Prior to this the only Palestinians were the Jews [its' the Roman derogatory name for Israel, taken from the Philistines]. Hamas merely is carrying on his programme.

Reporting the ME without placing it in the above context and ignoring the racist outpourings on Arab TV stations, which even if they are not influencing and inflaming the Arabs, influence the Israeli response, is again hiding facts.

The main issue is that Israel is, and always has been, prepared to live in peace with its Arab neighbours as the peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt and cease-fire with Lebanon attest. It is Hamas and Hisbullah that are part of a Muslim fanaticist drive to recolonise the entire region (and resents a successful democracy in its midst)and jihad to “eliminate” Israel.

It is noteable that neither Reuters nor the hyper-critics of Israel in the posts can provide an alternative to Israel’s response to the attacks.

In assessing bias, one askes whose cause is served by this?

Posted by Colin | Report as abusive

Honestly, I don’t know what the fuss is about. What’s been reported in this website is nothing short of what is actually the “truth”. Now whether this truth is pro or anti either the sides, it’s not Reuters to blame, they’re just reporting the reality of the situation. If you still have a problem with that, then it’s not them you should be angry at, it’s who ever the hell is causing this to begin with.
And I don’t want to sound biased to either sides, but the fact remains that the casualties on Gaza side were far more horrifying than they ever were or ever will be on the Israeli side. 1300 Palestinians dead in 22 days (excluding the hundreds under the ruins) as opposed to how many in the Israeli side? 10; and those who tricked death are now either paralyzed, or permanently disabled. My point is, if Reuters does often come out as pro- Gaza (and I’m not saying they are), it’s merely because that’s where most the action is.
1300 VS. 10. where the story at? You do the math.

Posted by X | Report as abusive

Nemo’s suggestion that any other nation would respond to terrorist attacks the same way is just not true. Despite being subjected to many years of IRA attacks the UK government never sent the RAF to bomb Dublin, and never used tanks or artillery in attacking positions from which the IRA were firing. Nor has India sent its airforce to bomb the cities of Pakistan in response to the attacks on Mumbai.

Colin,

Your post has more in common with the misguided ideologues of Hamas thank you care to admit. Apart from rewriting history, and poorly so, your assertions about the state of Israel are entirely ficticous. Israel is not a democracy, it is a Jewish state. There are 7.2 million people in Israel, 20% of them are Arabs who are barred from running in parliamentary elections, studying in the fields of medicine, chemistry, physics, sociology… the list goes on. Arab Israelis are barred from setting up businesses, law firms, medical practices, unless it is at least 50% owned by an Israeli Jew. That is NOT democracy, or at best, the jews in Israel have democractically decided to abandon democracy.
Sir, the very language you use in your post is indicative of your own misguided perceptions of reality in the middle east, particularily in the occupied territories. It is the strong belief held in Israel, by both politicians and partisans alike, that Jewish blood is valuable above all others, that drives this conflict. It is Israel’s agenda of territorial expansion that sustains this conflict. If the Israelis wanted peace, they could have had it in 2002, and every year thereafter up to December 27, 2008. Even in 2007 Khaled Meshaal declared publicly that Hamas would be willing to accept peace with Israel along the ’67 border. If all Israel was after was security for its citizens and recognition from its neighbours, it had it.

Israel is not interested in peace, however. It never has been, and its history in the middle east is that of ruthless violence, intimidation, and aggression. I pray you never have a neighbour the likes of Israel; your family wouldn’t survive the winter. Neither would you.

Look to Gaza if you disbelieve me. Look to Lebanon in 2006, 1993, or 1982. Look to Egypt and Jordan in 56. Look to Syria in 67. Look to the Palestinian territories for the last 41 years. These are wars of Israeli aggression that have torn families apart on many national scales.

If Israel was interested in peace, they would stop shooting at those they claim to want peace with. But Israel has another solution, another agenda, and they pursue it earnestly and against their own humanity. It is truly sad that the lessons of the holocaust have been forgotten in so short a time.

Posted by Ghassan | Report as abusive
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