CNN and BBC reporters enter Gaza

CNN reporter Ben Wedeman crossed into Gaza from Egypt.
Defiance amid destruction

RAFAH, Gaza (CNN) — Bloodshed, fear, privation and anger were all clearly visible in Gaza as we finally managed to enter the territory. Unsurprisingly, there were also displays of fist-shaking defiance, but what I had not expected was the high morale.

The BBC’s Christian Fraser is also in Rafah

…on Friday we finally made it into Gaza to see first-hand the destruction.

Rafah has been pounded throughout this conflict, the Israelis dismantling the network of smuggling tunnels that run beneath the border.

But there is plenty more that has been destroyed, too. [BBC]

Meanwhile, the Israelis took a small group of journalists into Gaza and, guess what, they saw nothing.

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military took about a dozen foreign reporters on a rare foray into the Gaza Strip yesterday, a day when a bombardment killed the Hamas security chief and an Israeli shell landed on the UN base there.

But the journalists saw none of the action. Their 30-minute drive from an army base near the border took them to an unpopulated area where a commander arrived in a tank, gave a statement and answered a few questions. They saw no troops, no combat. [17 January, AP / The Australian]

The Guardian website is carrying a video story about the use of white phosphorus weapons.
Video shows proof of phosphorus bombs in Gaza

The use of white phosphorus as a weapon – as opposed to its use as an obscurant and infrared blocking smoke screen – is banned by the UN’s third convention on conventional weapons, which covers the use of incendiary devices. Though Israel is not a signatory to the convention, its military manuals reflect the convention’s restrictions on using white phosphorus.

Israel initially claimed that it was not using white phosphorus. It later explained that shells being loaded for a howitzer, identified from photographs as phosphorus rounds, were empty “quiet” shells used for target marking. However, images of exploding shells and showering burning fragments are now acknowledged by independent observers as having been phosphorus.

At the centre of the controversy is the way white phosphorus air burst shells have been used in heavily built-up urban areas, with an overwhelmingly civilian population.

The M825A1 rounds, which are the kind identified as being fired by Israeli forces, are made primarily for use as a smokescreen in a way that limits their effect as an incendiary weapon, experts say.

6 Responses to CNN and BBC reporters enter Gaza

  1. Rajan says:

    It is tragic that the civilians in Gaza have let themselves to be swayed and brain-washed by the Hamas leaders who, to the last man, have taken refuge in Beirut or Damascus or Tehran and, from their safe hiding havens, make fiery speeches of defiance against Israel and exhort, without taking even an iota of chance of putting themselves in the harm’s way, their stupid and ignorant henchman to wage a suicidal battle against a better-armed and technologically advanced enemy. For every useless rocket which the Hamas fires into Israel, causing little or no damage or casualties, the Israelis have been killing 4 or 5 of the Palestinians and wounding many more in addition to the horrific damage to the physical infrastructure in an already impoverished territory. No body can fault the Hamas leaders for harboring intense hatred against the Israelis. It is a fundamental right of every human being to hate any other human being. This is how the human species themselves have evolved over the ages. After all, almost everyone in the wide open world hates George W Bush. But it has not affected him in any way; he claims that he sleeps soundly every night! But, if the Hamas leaders really want to put up a credible fight against Israel, they should bide their time, arm themselves with equally superior weapons and get themselves into a position to give to their enemy as good as they get. Throwing rockets which do not require any logistical platform to fire from and are no better than ordinary fireworks is not defiance; it is utter suicidal stupidity. And, for the Hamas leaders to goad their ignorant followers into pursuing this senseless path of self-destruction, is nothing but cowardice and an act of betrayal.

  2. Medusa says:

    I hope your “friend” Stefan reads this post EM QC (you’ve gone up in the world in some views) ; he may need to adjust his “balanced” view on the use of such a horrible weapon against innocent civilians!

  3. Colin in Canada says:

    when will the people in gaza realize that it was hamas who brought all this down on them and rise up and demand a peaceful co-existence with Israel.
    They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

  4. Stefan says:

    Medusa may want to read the views of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which found that WP munitions had not been used against civilians in Gaza. A careful reading of HRW’s typically politicised initial statements on the issue also shows that they had no evidence of WP being used against civilians. So, despite the lack of any evidence of wrongdoing, slanders of criminality were levelled against Israeli forces.

  5. Stefan says:

    Medusa, being so interested in the truth, will no doubt be outraged by the UN’s economy with the truth concerning the supposed Israeli attack on the UNRWA school in Jabalia, reports of which had Hirst burning with indignation hotter than any WP shell. It took some real journalism by Patrick Martin at The Globe and Mail to paint a true likeness of what happened:

    “Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed.”

    As Jenin showed, the Left is quick to accuse Israel of the most terrible crimes without evidence. Once time and effort is put into uncovering the truth the propaganda damage has been done and the myths created still swash about in the empty barrels which fill the ranks of anti-Israel groups.

    What is the motivation behind the alacrity and persistence with which the Left chooses to propogate such slurs – not to mention the extraordinarily heavy focus which it affords Israel-related activism? These are also symptomatic of extreme Right-wing groups and Islamist groups. What could be the common denominator?

  6. Stefan says:

    In terms of journalistic access and integrity, let’s take a look at the Arab experience.

    1. According to the Al-Arabiya channel, Hamas gunmen approached its correspondent in Gaza, Wael ‘Assam, and ordered him to leave Gaza immediately, threatening to harm him if he did not. ‘Assam, who has reported on Hamas’ missile production and on the Gaza tunnels, claims that his expulsion was ordered by senior Hamas official Ayman Taha. A Hamas source has explained that ‘Assam was asked to leave for security reasons only.

    Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, February 8, 2009

    2. Jerusalem Post reporter and columnist Khaled Abu Toameh: “Some of you may be wondering what’s going on with this guy who started working as a journalist for the PLO and ends up writing for a Jewish newspaper. Some people ask me “when did you become a Zionist? When did you become pro-Israel?” Well, I’m not pro-anything other than the facts and the truth. As a journalist I don’t have any problem working for any newspaper that provides me with a platform. I don’t care if it’s Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or even Buddhist.

    “And to be honest with you, I find it ironic that as an Arab Muslim living in this part of the world that I have to work for a Jewish newspaper or for the international media in order to be able to practice any kind of real journalism. Why? Because we don’t have any free media. In the Palestinian areas we didn’t have it when I was working there in the 1970s and 1980s, we didn’t get one when we brought Yasser Arafat in to start the Palestinian Authority, and of course we don’t have a free media today under Fatah, Hamas, and the rest of the gangs that are running the show out there. And this is very sad.”

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