Israel’s Illegal Assault On The Gaza “Prison”


Richard Moore

Israel¹s Illegal Assault
On The Gaza ³Prison²
By Media Lens
06 March, 2008
Media Lens

Israel has drawn international criticism for its latest series of onslaughts 
against the Œprison¹ of Gaza, the crowded home to 1.4 million Palestinians. 
Since last Wednesday (February 27), 112 Palestinians have died under Israeli air
attacks and Œincursions¹ by Israeli troops. The dead include many women and 
children, such as four boys who had been out playing football and even babies 
killed in their homes. Last Saturday alone saw the deaths of 60 Palestinians 
under Israeli attacks. Three Israelis have died ‹ one a civilian killed during a
rocket attack by Hamas last Wednesday and, since then, two Israeli soldiers.

On February 29, Ron Prosor, Israel¹s ambassador to the UK, said on the BBC Today
programme that:

³We¹ve been restraining ourselves for a very, very long time. But we have a 
responsibility to defend our citizens. This is the context.²1

The same day, a senior Israeli source threatened a ³holocaust² in Gaza. Matan 
Vilnai, the deputy defence minister, warned:

³The more [rocket] fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they 
(the Palestinians) will bring upon themselves a bigger holocaust because we will
use all our might to defend ourselves.²2

The disconnect with the view of the Israeli public was stark: 64% support 
negotiations with Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, in an attempt to bring about 

Palestinian Terrorism: The ³Inevitable Consequence² Of Israeli Occupation

Just before this latest escalation in violence, the newswire service Associated 
Press briefly flagged up a report on the Occupied Territories, commissioned by 
the UN.3 It has since been ignored by the corporate media.

The report, authored by UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard, concludes that 
Palestinian terrorism is the ³inevitable consequence² of Israeli occupation. 
While Palestinian terrorist acts are deplorable, ³they must be understood as 
being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or 
occupation.² Dugard, a South African professor of law, accuses the Israeli state
of acts and policies consistent with all three.4

The report notes that Israel has attempted to justify its attacks and incursions
as ³defensive operations² aimed at preventing the launching of rockets into 
Israel. Dugard states clearly that ³the firing of rockets into Israel by 
Palestinian militants without any military target, which has resulted in the 
killing and injury of Israelis, cannot be condoned and constitutes a war crime.²

But he also notes that ³serious questions arise over the proportionality of 
Israel¹s military response and its failure to distinguish between military and 
civilian targets. It is highly arguable that Israel has violated the most 
fundamental rules of international humanitarian law, which constitute war 

In particular:

³Above all, the Government of Israel has violated the prohibition on collective 
punishment of an occupied people contained in article 33 of the Fourth Geneva 

In the days that followed, as killings and injuries rapidly rose under a massive
Israeli assault, we could find not a single mention in any UK national newspaper
of this important assessment by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied 

Exchange With BBC Radio 4 Presenter

On February 29, we wrote to Edward Stourton in response to his interview that 
morning with Ron Prosor, Israel¹s ambassador to the UK. First, we pointed out 
that Stourton had not challenged Prosor¹s erroneous assertion that Gaza could 
now run its own affairs following the withdrawal of Israeli military forces in 
2005. Prosor claimed: ³Israel disengaged completely out of Gaza more than two 
years ago² so that ³the Palestinians would take responsibility, would run Gaza.²

Indeed, the thrust of the BBC presenter¹s own words, with multiple repetition of
the loaded word ³disengagement², was that Israel was no longer the occupying 
power in Gaza.

We pointed out, by contrast, the assessment of John Dugard: ³it is clear that 
Israel remains the occupying Power as technological developments have made it 
possible for Israel to assert control over the people of Gaza without a 
permanent military presence.²

We asked Stourton whether he was aware of this assessment. Moreover, as we saw 
above, Dugard had observed that Palestinian terrorism was the ³inevitable 
consequence² of Israeli occupation. We asked why the Today programme had not 
addressed Dugard¹s important new report. On the same day, Stourton responded, 
but only to the first point:

³This is such a difficult area to get right and I always welcome constructive 
comments - so thank you for your thoughts. I suppose the only point I would make
is that if you challenge every statement in an interview like that it can get a 
bit arid.²

A similar email to Jeremy Bowen, the BBC¹s Middle East news editor, about the 
corporation¹s serious omission, went unanswered.

Stourton¹s response was standard for the BBC ‹ friendly, well-meaning but 
ultimately vacuous. By contrast, in 2004, Tim Llewellyn, the BBC¹s Middle East 
Correspondent in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, blew a loud whistle on the deep 
bias in BBC reporting:

³Watching a peculiarly crass, inaccurate and condescending programme about the 
endangered historical sites of ŒIsrael¹ ‹ that is to say, the Israeli-occupied 
Palestinian Territories ‹ on BBC2 in early June 2003, I determined to try to 
work out, as a former BBC Middle East correspondent, why the Corporation has in 
the past two and a half years been failing to report fairly the most central and
lasting reason for the troubles of the region: the Palestinians¹ struggle for 

He described some of his conclusions:

³In the news reporting of the domestic BBC TV bulletins, ŒbalanceŒ, the BBC¹s 
crudely applied device for avoiding trouble, means that Israel¹s lethal modern 
army is one force, the Palestinians, with their rifles and home-made bombs, the 
other ŒforceŒ: two sides equally strong and culpable in a difficult dispute, it 
is implied, that could easily be sorted out if extremists on both sides would 
see reason and the leaders do as instructed by WashingtonŠ

³When suicide bombers attack inside Israel the shock is palpable. The BBC rarely
reports the context, however. Many of these acts of killing and martyrdom are 
reprisals for assassinations by Israel¹s death squads, soldiers and agents who 
risk nothing as they shoot from helicopters or send death down a telephone line.
I rarely see or hear any analysis of how many times the Israelis have 
deliberately shattered a period of Palestinian calm with an egregious attack or 
murder. ŒQuiet¹ periods mean no Israelis diedŠ it is rarely shown that during 
these Œquiet¹ times Palestinians continued to be killed by the score.² (See our 
Media Alert)

This is the reality of a systematic BBC bias that works to suppress public 
awareness of the true gravity of Israel¹s human rights abuses.

1 BBC Radio 4 Today interview with Edward Stourton, Friday, February 29, 2008, 
7.30 am. #

2. BBC news online, ŒIsrael warns of Gaza ³holocaust²,¹ February 29, 2008. #

3. Bradley S. Klapper, ŒReport: Israeli occupation causes terrorŒ, Associated 
Press, Feb 26, 6:11 PM ET, published on Yahoo news website. #

4. ŒHuman Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab TerritoriesŒ, 
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the 
Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, John Dugard, United Nations Human 
Rights Council, A/HRC/7/17. #

Media Lens is a UK-based media watchdog group headed by David Edwards and David 
Cromwell. The first Media Lens book is Guardians of Power: The Myth Of The 
Liberal Media (Pluto Books, London, 2006).

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