Gaza media coverage – the propaganda war

Israel continues its incursion into the Gaza Strip in response to
recent rocket attacks by Hamas, there has already been some interesting
discussion about media coverage of the conflict.

A few days ago one of my colleagues at King’s posted a piece about the increasing strategic importance of the media in conflict.

Citing a paper by Lawrence Freedman, David Betz concludes:

“The IDF (Israeli Defence Force) clearly understands
that the campaign will be fought and lost in the informational realm
and it is clearly investing much effort in that direction.”

The Israelis have dropped leaflets on Gaza, made telephone calls to residents, started a Youtube Channel, and appear to be active on Twitter.

But critics have suggested that by refusing to allow Western
journalists into Gaza, the Israelis are in danger of undermining their
own efforts.

Robert Fisk suggests
that unsubstantiated reports from “Palestinian voices – as opposed to
those of Western reporters – are now dominating the airwaves.”

While he acknowledges that this might represent “a new form of
coverage – letting the participants tell their own story”, he is
concerned that both the narratives of Hamas and the Israeli government
cannot be checked and challenged due to the media blackout.

On the other hand, Yacoov Lozowick, author of Right to Exist, A Moral Defense of Israel’s Wars,
doesn’t seem convinced of the value of reporting from Gaza and feels
Israel’s decision to block media access has been vindicated:

“The possibility that reporters with deadlines to meet – even
Israeli ones, all the others even more so – could march into the battle
zone and have anything useful to tell us, is, frankly, remote. The best
they’d be able to do is point at rubble, recent or not, and
breathlessly tell about the tremendous havoc the IDF is wreaking; then
they’d troop off to the Shifa hospital in Gaza and interview the
civilian casualties (alas, there are many of them) without ever
recognizing which of the uniformed personnel are hiding Hamas leaders,
nor where the steps down to the bunker are.”

Paul Reynolds on the BBC website has also highlighted the
difficulties of understanding what is going on, even when you have
video evidence. He reports on how an Israeli video which claimed to show rockets being loaded onto a lorry before it was destroyed, has been challenged
by a resident of Gaza. Ahmed Sanur says the truck belonged to him and
members of his family and workers were moving oxygen cylinders from his

Photo: Zoriah,,
Militant fighters train to launch rockets in Gaza, August 2008. Zoriah
has a selection of other great photos from his recent trip to Gaza on
his blog which are well worth checking out.