The MSM: Hamas’ new propaganda outlet

Hamas should fire its media people. They don’t need them anymore. The AP, Reuters, and the mainstream media are only too happy to uncritically pass along Hamas propaganda.

First up: The AP passing along the lie that Gazans have to live in darkness due to lack of fuel for their electric plant. Remember when you read this that the first three to five paragraphs of wire stories (sometimes only two) are published in the “World” section of most of your local newspapers. These are the first five grafs of a story titled Israeli Fuel Cuts Cause Hardship in Gaza.

Gaza City awoke Monday to shuttered bread shops and gas stations, prompting fears of a humanitarian crisis as Israel pressed ahead with efforts to stop Palestinian rocket fire, refusing to reopen crossings or allow in crucial fuel supplies.

Children marched through dark streets holding candles, an angry Hamas TV announcer shouted at the camera “We are being killed, we are starving!” and Palestinian leaders issued emotional pleas for national unity. Israel accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers of fabricating a crisis to gain world sympathy.

Electricity officials shut down Gaza’s only power plant just before 8 p.m. Sunday, Gaza Energy Authority head Kanan Obeid said.

Health Ministry official Moaiya Hassanain warned the fuel cutoff would cause a health catastrophe. “We have the choice to either cut electricity on babies in the maternity ward or heart surgery patients or stop operating rooms,” he said.

Gaza bakeries stopped operating because of the blockade, bakers said, because they had neither power nor flour. Residents of the impoverished strip, which has a population of some 1.5 million, typically rely on fresh pita bread as a main part of their diet.

That’s the lede. To read it, you’d think that Gaza is in dire straights, and that Israel is causing a crisis of mass proportions and that you will soon see children dying in the streets. No facts about Israel’s supplying 70 percent of Gaza’s electricity can be found in the lede. But in paragraph eight, which will not be in your World News section, we read:

In addition to the fuel it receives from Israel to power its electrical plant, Gaza gets about 70 percent of its electricity directly from Israel – and that has not been stopped, Israeli officials said.

Oh. So Gaza’s electricity is not being stopped. Israel has a strong case when it says that Hamas is manufacturing the “crisis.” But the AP doesn’t acknowledge that in the lede.

Reuters is equally disingenuous. Unsurprisingly, Reuters doesn’t supply the Israeli side of the story at all in the lede.

Gaza hospitals will run out of drugs and fuel for generators within a few days unless Israel eases the border blockade it imposed on the Hamas-controlled territory, international organizations said on Monday.

The European Union, which funds fuel for Gaza’s now-idle main power plant, said it understood Israel’s need to defend its citizens against cross-border rocket attacks but called the restrictions “collective punishment.”

Residents of the impoverished territory awoke to nearly traffic-free streets and shuttered shops, with petrol in short supply since Israel closed the Gaza Strip’s border crossings on Friday.

Palestinian officials have warned Israel’s standoff with Gaza militants, who have vowed to continue the rocket fire, could harm U.S.-spurred peace efforts.

“There is no fuel, meaning there is no work,” said Abu Mahmoud, a fisherman. “We have seen bad times before, but never worse than these days.”

Reuters primarily serves European markets. Perhaps that’s why their bias is more pronounced. There is not a word about Israel and Egypt supplying 70% of Gaza’s electricity, or about Hamas deliberately shutting down the Gaza power plant yesterday. But there is this explanation in the middle of the Reuters article:

Gaza’s main power plant shut down on Sunday, plunging much of Gaza City into darkness. While it provides only 30 percent of the territory’s electricity, its closure affected a far greater proportion of the population because of the way the power grid system works.

Well, that sounds grim. But if you continue reading the article, buried deeply (three grafs from the end of the article) you will find this:

Despite its tough public line, Israel has not cut off its direct supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip. Egypt also provides power, to the southern part of the territory.

Still no word about Israel and Egypt supplying 70% of Gaza’s electricity. Perhaps they’ll include that fact in the updates they’ll run throughout the day. Or perhaps their editors won’t go as far as the BBC, which has a fairly anti-Israel slant in this piece, but which also includes a named spokesman from Israel’s Defense Ministry:

Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for Israel’s defence ministry, insisted the power station had enough fuel to continue functioning.

“If they shut it down, it’s not because of a fuel shortage, but because they want to create the impression of a crisis,” he said.

He described the closure of the power station as “not comfortable but not a humanitarian crisis”.

Israel, which shut the borders on Thursday, has reduced the flow of petrol used in cars and diesel to the strip but says fuel oil and cooking gas are not affected.

In fact, Hamas is the instigator of the shutdown of the Gaza power plant.

Israeli officials claimed Monday that the Gaza blackout was deliberately instigated by Hamas, in a bid to present the appearance of a humanitarian crisis.

According to the IDF, Israel was still providing 75 percent of Gaza’s electricity, while Egypt provided an additional 5%. Israel said that it was not interested in a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and would “act quickly” to prevent it.

But those are the Israeli papers. They have a tendency to publish quotes from, you know, actual Israeli officials. And even named ones, unlike most wire service and mainstream media sources. You will also not find these quotes from an Israeli power worker’s union representative:

The Israeli Electric Company (IEC) is supplying nearly 70% of electricity to the Gaza Strip despite Palestinians’ claims of a power shortage in Gaza, said Miko Zarfati, the chairman of the workers’ committee at the power company.

“This is Palestinian spin. No one has stopped the supply of electricity to the Strip,” Zarfati told Ynet. He claimed that his employees worked day and night in a power plant in Ashkelon while putting themselves in danger of being hit by Qassam rockets falling in the area.

[...] The Gaza power plant only produces 30% of the electricity consumed in the Strip while Israel supplies the rest.

“It is simply offensive and arrogant for them to claim that there is shortage,” Zarfati said.

And you also won’t read about Israeli electric workers supplying power to Gaza while under rocket fire.

“The situation is totally absurd. We’re continuing to supply them electricity despite the (demand) overload for electricity in Israel and despite the fact that Israeli residents and Electric Company workers that are being sent to Gaza Vicinity communities are under threat from Qassam rockets,” Zarfati railed.

CNN has the most fair article of all the mainstream outlets. Here’s the first paragraph of their article:

Residents of Gaza on Monday were coping with power cuts which led to long lines at bakeries and darkened hospital wards, but Israel said reports of a humanitarian crisis were exaggerated.

Well, that seems promising. Let’s see the rest of the lede:

Israel closed all border crossings between Israel and Gaza on Friday after days of rocket attacks on southern Israel. The closure blocks the entrance of fuel, food, and medicine, but the Israeli government promised any Palestinians who need medical treatment would be allowed to cross.

Much of Gaza was in the dark Sunday night and Monday morning. Long lines stretched around bakeries, some of which had to shut because their power supply was cut; use of generators was limited for fear the fuel used to operate them would run out.

At Shiffa Hospital in Gaza City, patients lay next to blank monitors and other equipment that was turned off.

Can you say, “Hamas propaganda photo op”? I knew you could. You have to read nine paragraphs in to get the Israeli side of the story. And it is, as usual, not from a named source. Hamas spokesmen are almost always named. Israeli spokesmen are usually not.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the supply of electricity had continued uninterrupted and it acknowledged a reduction in fuel supply. But it said Hamas’s claims of a humanitarian crisis in the coastal strip were “greatly exaggerated.”

“While the fuel supply from Israel into Gaza has indeed been reduced, due to the Hamas rocket attacks, the diversion of this fuel from domestic power generators to other uses is wholly a Hamas decision — apparently taken due to media and propaganda considerations,” a Foreign Ministry statement read.

Noteworthy is the fact that while the Gaza population remains in the dark, the fuel generating power to the Hamas rocket manufacturing industry continues to flow unabated.”

Yes, that is the noteworthy fact of this entire “crisis.” The Gazans have about a two-month food supply. Their electricity is still being supplied by Israel and Egypt, and Hamas deliberately shut down the Gaza electric plant yesterday. This was the first AP release of that news:

Gaza City was plunged into darkness after nightfall Sunday when officials from ruling Hamas shut down the territory’s only electricity plant after Israel cut off fuel supplies.

Israel blockaded Gaza Thursday as a pressure tactic against militants who have been firing rockets across the border every day. The stricken power plant generates about one third of Gaza’s electricity. The rest, which comes from Israel, was not affected by the blockade, Israeli officials said.

Health officials and human rights groups warned of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza as a result of the Israeli blockade.

My, how big it’s grown. Even in the lede of a three-graf news blurb, the AP manages to blame Israel, not Hamas, for shutting down the power plant. The fuel is there. Hamas isn’t allowing it to be used. This is a tactic that they’ve used before, to great success.

It remains to be seen, but I’m not betting on Israel winning this propaganda battle. She never does.

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