Cyberpresse Presumes Israel Guilty in Gaza Communications Blackout (August 10, 2011)

August 10, 2011

 
 
 
 

Cyberpresse Presumes Israel Guilty in Gaza Communications Blackout

 
 
 
 
By: Mike Fegelman, Executive Director                                                                             August 10, 2011

  View this Article Online and Discuss on HRC’s Blog "Headlines and Deadlines"
 

 
 

Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,

Late last night, Palestinian news agency Ma’an News reported that: "Telecommunications in Gaza were severed late Tuesday, cutting off Internet, mobile phones and international landline connections for hours…" The report quoted unnamed Gazan residents who implied that Israeli bulldozers were the cause for the communications blackout as, according to these so-called eye witnesses, Israeli "bulldozers were seen operating near the border shortly before the blackout began." Today, Israel Defense Force Spokespersons Unit vehemently denied these allegations claiming that "Contrary to inaccurate rumours, the IDF has no connection to the Gaza blackout last night. IDF bulldozer’s didn’t dig at Nahal Oz."

The Ma’an news report offered no other plausible explanation for the blackout, nor was any firsthand evidence given to corroborate claims that Israeli bulldozers had allegedly severed fibre-optic lines causing the blackout. Despite the glaring lack of credibility to this story, Cyberpresse, a prominent French-language news site in Quebec, published the following AFP report early this morning claiming by some unknown veracity that: "Gaza was deprived of internet due to Israeli bulldozers."

The Cyberpresse headline presumed Israel’s guilt as a result of their editor’s failure to attribute these claims. As to the supposed credibility of Israel’s accusers, the body of this article attributed these statements to Hamas, a terrorist organization which has a proven track record of lying to the media to wage a propaganda war against Israel. Talk about unreliable witnesses. To recall, in 2008 Hamas manipulated the mainstream media into thinking that Israel had shut down the transfer of power to Gaza, blacking out the Strip as a means to collectively punish innocent Palestinians and to plunge Gaza into darkness. As the Jerusalem Post reported at the time:

"On at least two occasions this week, Hamas staged scenes of darkness as part of its campaign to end the political and economic sanctions against the Gaza Strip, Palestinian journalists said Wednesday.

In the first case, journalists who were invited to cover the Hamas government meeting were surprised to see Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his ministers sitting around a table with burning candles.

In the second case on Tuesday, journalists noticed that Hamas legislators who were meeting in Gaza City also sat in front of burning candles.

But some of the journalists noticed that there was actually no need for the candles because both meetings were being held in daylight."

Clearly visible in the background were drawn curtains blocking the sunlight. This, however, didn’t stop the Reuters wire service from spinning a different story with photo captions such as the one below:

Even Palestinian Authority officials said at the time that "Hamas is staging (the) Gaza blackouts" in a means "to win sympathy and incite Palestinians against Israel…"

Back to the Cyberpresse report. While this article and Ma’an’s original report did include a very brief statement by the IDF denying their involvement in this incident, Hamas’ claims were given much greater prominence and weight leaving this article unbalanced and prejudicial. Furthermore, Cyberpresse’s article is further marred by the fact that it misleadingly features an undated photo purportedly of an Israeli bulldozer in the West Bank to hammer home a false impression that Israeli bulldozers were responsible for this incident, even though the location of the blackout was in the Gaza Strip.

Despite a glaring lack of evidence and the dubious credibility on the part of Israel’s accusers, Cyberpresse, along with AFP and Ma’an News have all rushed to judgment by accepting Hamas’ narrative of Israeli culpability as an undisputed fact.

How You Can Make A Difference:

At present, Israel denies any involvement in the incident that damaged Gaza’s communications wires, but is still coordinating efforts to repair the damage that it contends it never caused. In just 12 hours since the blackout, mobile services have resumed in Gaza,  but Israel’s image continues to be tarnished as a result of Cyberpresse’s false and salacious reporting.

Send your considered comments to Mario Girard, Cyberpresses’s Information Director at: MGIRARD1@lapresse.ca and please refer to their August 10 article entitled: "La bande de Gaza privée d’ internet à cause de bulldozers israéliens"

 
 

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