RTE: Contextless and vacuous
Today, RTE News online ran a story about Palestine, headlined ‘Rocket fired from Gaza explodes in southern Israel’. This in itself would be a perfectly factual way to frame the story if, for example, RTE had been following the Gaza ceasefire story since last November.
However, this is the first mention of a ceasefire breach since 1st December 2012. In fact, before today’s piece, there have only been two stories about ceasefire breaches published since it came into effect. Those were on 23rd November and 1st December. The former was a report headlined ‘Israeli gunfire kills man near Gaza border’, and the latter was a one line report about the killing of a Palestinian man in Gaza as an aside to a piece on British and French reactions to Israel’s announcement that it was planning more illegal settlements.
For those who have been following the aftermath of the last Israeli attack on Gaza, this lack of coverage will probably seem bizarre, and infuriating. Since the ceasefire, there have been 4 Palestinians shot and killed by Israeli forces in Gaza, and 91 injured. The Israeli military has carried out 63 shooting attacks, 13 armoured incursions, and 30 attacks on Palestinians fishermen at sea.
Of these, RTE deigned to report only two, and both of those in the near immediate aftermath of the ceasefire. And of those, one was merely a nameless statistic in a report about the ‘real’ news – two imperialist powers’ lightly rapping Israel on the knuckles for announcing it was planning to commit yet another violation of the Geneva Convention by building more illegal settlements.
The only other stories that mentioned Gaza in that three month period were as follows: Hamas’ leader-in-exile Khaled Mesha’al’s visit to Gaza on 8th December, headlined ‘Hamas leader vows to never recognise Israel’; a report entitled ‘Egypt floods Gaza tunnels cutting vital lifeline’ on 13th February; and a piece about the winner of the World Press Photo Award called ‘Swedish photographer wins World Press Photo award’ (the photograph was a harrowing image of the funeral of two children and their father killed in Israel’s November 2012 bombing campaign).
Frankly, it should be incredible that RTE, the Irish state’s public service broadcaster, could ignore constant violations of the ceasefire by Israel and then run a story like this; nowhere in the piece does it mention any of Israel’s numerous ceasefire violations, not even the meagre two it had previously reported. Should be, but alas, isn’t.
For the sake of accuracy, let’s deconstruct the piece , line-by-line:
Rocket fired from Gaza explodes in southern Israel
The headline immediately frames the piece with Palestinians carrying out an act of unprovoked violence.
A rocket has exploded in southern Israel in the first such attack by militants in Gaza since a truce ended a week of cross-border fighting in November.
No mention is made that would suggest this rocket comes after three months of ceasefire violation by Israeli forces.
The rocket caused some damage to a road near the city of Ashkelon but no injuries, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
The first quote is given to an Israeli official.
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s West Bank-based Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the strike, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency said.
Fatah is not “West Bank-based”; it the oldest Palestinian political faction, active in all the occupied territories and the diaspora. The only Palestinian voice in this piece is that of a Ma’an news report, citing a Palestinian group as claiming responsibility for a violent incident; apparently RTE doesn’t believe Palestinians should have agency or even give us the group’s own rationale for the attack.
There was no military response from Israel.
This rocket, if it was anything, was a response to constant ceasefire violations in Gaza and violent Israeli provocations in the West Bank, including the deaths of six people since November, three of them children. Yet RTE infers: ‘Israel is letting it go without a military response, aren’t they very restrained?’ I believe I’ve yet to see an RTE report that says ‘Today a Palestinian was killed by the Israeli military – there was no response from Palestinian fighters’.
The attack came after the death on Saturday of a Palestinian detainee in Israeli custody, which triggered protests in the West Bank.
This is the first piece of information we get about Israeli actions against Palestinians. This one death is apparently the trigger – but note, the attack did not come “in response” to the death, for only Israel “responds”. The rocket simply could not have been a reaction to the constant Israeli ceasefire violations or other acts of violence in the West Bank. But what does RTE tell us of this death it has chosen as the rationale for this attack?
The death in disputed circumstances of Arafat Jaradat and a hunger strike by four other Palestinian inmates have stoked tensions ahead of a planned visit next month by US President Barack Obama.
First, there are 12 hunger strikers at present and, incidentally, I believe this is the first time RTE have mentioned the hunger strikes since May 2012. Second, this tells us nothing of the death, other than it was “in disputed circumstances”. What are these circumstances? Well, according to the Palestinian Authority Minister for Detainees, Issa Qaraqe, the detainee was tortured to death while in Israeli custody. Tortured. To. Death. In case you missed that. By the self-proclaimed only democracy in the Middle East. This is not worth reporting it would appear.
Israeli troops shot and wounded five Palestinians during confrontations with protesters in the Bethlehem area yesterday and a 15-year-old boy was in critical condition. At the end of last year, Egyptian mediators helped achieve a truce after eight days of Israeli air strikes amid rocket attacks from the coastal territory.
This is factual, as fas as I can tell – although I have seen a report that says 10 others were injured by by shooting outside the Ofer military prison, near Ramallah.
Remember folks, if you have a television and you live in Ireland, you’re paying for this crap. Almost, as if to add insult to injury, recently the Irish government announced that it doesn’t even matter that if – like my good self – you don’t own a television, you’re going to have to pay for a television license anyway.
According to the Irish Independent, “Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte [said] that a huge number of people now got their news, not from sitting in front of the 9pm news, but from other services offered by the national broadcaster”. No, Minister, nobody gets their “news” from RTE – not on the screen, not on the airwaves, not online. We get half-truths, misinformation and propaganda. And it’s just not good enough.
[A note on RTE Online News stories – it is possible that in a single day RTE online will run the same story, sometimes slightly edited, sometimes exactly the same, re-posted several times throughout the day – usually as ‘updates’ at 1pm, 6pm and 9pm. For the purposes of this examination, I have taken multiple virtually identical stories on the same subject as being a single story.]