Truce or Falsehood?

24 Jun

Last week Hamas fired over 100 rockets at Israeli towns before agreeing to a ceasefire.

On Friday, following some more cross-border action, Reuters posted this headline:

Israeli Air Strike Kills Gaza Militant, Breaks Truce

According to Reuters, Israel broke the truce. That would be correct, if not for two key pieces of information:

1) The militant killed in the air strike was, according to Palestinian sources, preparing to fire a rocket at Israel from Gaza. Doesn’t that count as “breaking the truce”?

2) As Reuters reports in the body of the article, the Israeli strike followed the firing of two rockets at Israel earlier in the day from Gaza. If Israel was responding to rocket fire, how exactly does Reuters conclude that Israel “broke the truce”?

Particularly in online news where users get their fix by scanning a list of links, it is imperative that headlines be clear and direct, leaving no confusion over “who did what.”

I recall a few years ago when Associated Press issued this headline: “Rockets Hit Lebanon Despite Cease-Fire.” Readers would presume that Israel had broken a cease-fire by attacking Lebanon. Only those bothering to read the article, however, discovered that the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah had fired 10 Katyusha rockets that accidentally fell short, landing in southern Lebanon – hence the technically-true-but-wildly-deceptive headline, “Rockets Hit Lebanon Despite Cease-Fire.”

Even Israel’s basic counter-terrorist measures are blamed for causing hostilities. When Israel stopped Hamas from building tunnels designed to ferry lethal weapons and kidnap IDF soldiers, the New York Times cited this as evidence of Israel breaking the truce and driving “the cycle of violence to a much higher level.” (“A Gaza Truce Undone by Flaws May be Revived by Necessity,” December 18, 2008)

It’s a world turned upside-down, where Israel is blamed in knee-jerk fashion. Sometimes I think the solution is just to ignore the sophomoric condemnations and do whatever is needed to defend the citizens of Israel. Because if we’re anyway damned if we do, and damned if we don’t… why not “do”?

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