International media communication with Israeli civil or military authorities has never been easy. But when a conflict like that in Gaza, with dozens of civilian victims, threatens to tarnish the image of the Jewish state, the relationship becomes difficult. To the bombing of a building in the Gazati capital that until Saturday housed global media offices, such as the US agency Associated Press, is added the deception of an Israeli military spokesman who, in the early hours of Friday, tried to confuse foreign correspondents about a non-existent “ground operation” within the Palestinian enclave.
The Federation of the Foreign Press (FPA) in Jerusalem has warned in a statement that the “destruction of media offices raises questions about whether Israel is trying to interfere with press freedom.” “Israel has not presented evidence that the building [atacado] it was being used by Hamas ”, specifies the FPA while demanding an official investigation, alluding to the argument of the military spokesmen to justify the destruction of the Jala tower in Gaza. As in the so-called Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009), the Israeli authorities have now not allowed foreign journalists access to Gaza. Local Palestinian reporters working with international media are the only eyes the world has today for the version of events on the ground.
The official version of the Israeli Armed Forces is offered from the Office of the Army Spokesperson, a well-oiled machine with dozens of information professionals and hundreds of replacement soldiers at its service. Foreign media have also been outraged at the suspicion that the military office manipulated them to set a trap for the Hamas militia.
Shortly after midnight on Thursday (11:00 PM PST), the Army informed foreign correspondents that a large-scale “air and ground operation” had begun against Gaza. Asked to specify the scope of the offensive, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, spokesman for the international press, pointed out in English that the Israeli forces had “penetrated the territory of Gaza.” Foreign media rushed to change their editions to account for what was billed as the fourth invasion of Gaza in 12 years.
The Israeli press, which receives the information from the Armed Forces in Hebrew, was not aware of the ground incursion. When these media tried to confirm a news item that was already circulating on social media, the Hebrew spokesmen denied that the border had been crossed and specified that the ground offensive consisted of artillery and tank fire.
Two hours after the first information, the Army rectified and denied to foreign media that troops and tanks had penetrated Gaza, forcing them to change printed and digital editions.
In a telematic press conference, Lieutenant Colonel Conricus apologized at eight in the morning for the “misunderstanding” and took full responsibility. By then, Channels 12 and 13, the main private television stations, had already aired confidential reports that the Army had hatched a strategy to bring Hamas fighters out of hiding – using the international media – by making them believe that Israeli troops had invaded the Strip. Between the first military information and the rectification, more than 550 volleys of artillery and tank fire were fired along with massive bombardments by 160 military aircraft against more than 150 positions of the Gaza Strip militias.
In its response to the FPA’s request for explanations, the Armed Forces have described as “conspiratorial” the information that points to manipulation of the press “to achieve a tactical victory,” according to a letter from the head of the Office of the Military Spokesperson. , General Hidai Zilberman. In the letter, he describes information about a ground offensive that never existed as a “slip”.
Meanwhile, through a statement released in New York, the Associated Press (AP) news agency showed its dismay on Saturday at the demolition of the building that housed its headquarters in Gaza City, where a dozen informants and collaborators were when they received the order to evacuate the 12-story tower. “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza as of today,” lamented AP President Gary Pruitt. Maria Antonia Sánchez-Vallejo. The journalists and collaborators of the agency “fortunately were able to abandon it [el edificio] on time, “but” the evolution is especially unsettling, “added Pruitt.
In the Jala tower, with 60 homes and several offices, only one of the elevators worked. The Palestinian journalist Yuma al Sayed, who collaborates with the Qatari television channel Al Jazeera in Gaza, has explained on the air how the evacuation was organized, in just 10 or 15 minutes. “We left the elevator for the children and the elderly and we ran down the stairs,” the reporter recalled. “Who could, took a child to evacuate him,” she explained, “and I helped two little ones myself.” “Give us 15 minutes, we have to save the equipment, the cameras,” another journalist had pleaded with the Israeli intelligence officer, who warned by phone that they should evict immediately, the chain reports on its website. “You don’t have 10 minutes, get out now,” the Hebrew military man laconically ordered.
The chain, which has defined the attack as a “clear act to prevent the sacred task of informing the world” of what is happening in the Strip, has expressed its intention that the Israeli government “take responsibility for its actions.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.