Here’s how the story could have been reported

Israel, which has been the victim of endless and destructive rocket attacks originating in Gaza, successfully stopped one before it happened. Taking facts directly from the BBC, this is how I would have reported the Israeli Army’s successful action:

Israel destroys several rocket launchers in Gaza

The Israeli Army reports that it surveillance into Gaza revealed several rocket launchers aimed at a heavily populated industrial zone in Beit Hanoun. Several people were clustered around the rocket launchers, apparently preparing to fire them. The Israeli Army responded by shelling the rocket launchers.

In the last four months, Gazans have launched ten qassam rocket strikes on Israel. The seventy-seven rockets fired over this fourth month period killed two people, wounded several others, and caused significant damage to a factory containing hazardous materials, requiring evacuation.

Palestinian spokespeople announced that three children were killed in the attack. This report has yet to be confirmed.

The Israeli army expressed sorrow for the deaths of the children, but said it held militant groups responsible. “The army regrets terror organisations’ cynical use of children,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

In fact, this is how the BBC reported the story, using the same facts, but with a very different emphasis:

Three Palestinian children have been killed after an Israeli tank shell hit northern Gaza, Palestinian doctors say.

Israel’s military confirmed it launched an attack, saying it had targeted people setting up a rocket launcher.

Doctors said two boys aged 10 and 12 died of shrapnel wounds. A 12-year-old girl who was critically injured in the blast died also in hospital.

The Israeli army expressed sorrow for the deaths of the children, but said it held militant groups responsible.

“We identified and fired at several rocket launchers aimed at Israel in the Beit Hanoun industrial zone,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

“We also identified several suspicious looking people fiddling with the rocket launchers before we fired. The army regrets terror organisations’ cynical use of children,” she added.

This is what I mean when I talk about spin. The spin one could put on it is that Israel successfully deflected what was shaping up to be the tenth rocket attack on it in just four months. Unfortunately, because the Palestinians place their children in combat areas, both to use them as soldiers and to increase youth casualties for propaganda purposes had, in fact, had children swarming around these rockets, which are also obvious targets.

The alternative, of course, is that the Israeli Army kills children. Then, at the back end, you note that, perhaps, just perhaps, the children were in what could possibly be classified as a combat zone, since they were near weapons about to be fired. An in the really alternative, you don’t even mention that these type of rockets have been fired into Israel unceasingly for years, with increasing numbers of civilian dead and wounded.

Sadly, the second alternative is the type most commonly found in newspapers, especially European newspapers.

By the way, if you’d like to hear the Israeli point of view directly from the horse’s mouth, you can read this article, which points out that Israel believes (as I do) that the launch sites are war zones. I’ll just add that I don’t believe that a humane people cluster their children around weapons and war zones, unless they intend to use those children as soldiers or strategic targets.

UPDATE: More on Palestinian children used as instruments of war.

UPDATE II: Here’s a report from the LA Times identifying in the lede that the children were hanging out near rocket launchers.  It also gives a bit more context for the Israeli actions, by acknowledging the fact that, last month alone, more than 90 rockets were launched into Israel from the same area.

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Comments

  1. says

    In terms of newsworthiness, the fact that three children died in the attack is far more newsworthy than the fact that the attack was stopped, and any reporter worth his/her salt will lead with that. On the other hand, the real story is that they were being used as human shields. My first sentence would have been something like, “Three children, apparently used by the Palestinians as human shields for rocket launches against Israel, were killed when an Israeli tank shell destroyed the rocket launchers.” This leads with the dead children, as such a story must, but appropriately places the blame. I’ll be interested to see how others would “spin” this story.

  2. pacificus says

    A modest proposal: Maybe the Israelis should just start considering palestinian children to be legitimate targets, using the same logic that the palestinians use in targeting Israeli civilians–since all Israelis must serve at some point in the military, all are legitimate targets. Since Palestinians insist on not only training even their littlest children to long for jihad, but use them as shields and propoganda tools, maybe by the palestinian’s own logic they are targets. They are certainly considered expendable, by all indications.

  3. says

    the fact that three children died in the attack is far more newsworthy than the fact that the attack was stopped, and any reporter worth his/her salt will lead with that

    Only because they not only are unable to report military strategy but they are uninterested in doing so. The fact that it is more newsworthy to people that don’t know what military strategy is and what it means, doesn’t mean much, Don.

    If the surge was newsworthy, why doesn’t the media report on it as well as blackfive, Don? So that people would be able to acquire the primary sources and not have to be in the dark.

  4. says

    Hi Y-man — If it bleeds, it leads, and if it bleeds and it’s a child it leads with banner headlines. That’s true whether it’s a traffic accident, a house fire or a war. Amreicans understand and care about children. What they don’t understand is using them as shields and weapons, and that should be the story.

    As for the surge, I think most American people and most American journalists have no idea what it is, what it’s goals are and whether it’s working. By Bookworm’s description, the short term goals are reasonable and may be being accomplished, which makes the surge a very good thing. Still, it’s hard to imagine the long-term outcome being changed, since the American people simply will not support a long-term American involvement and will throw out of office anyone who advocates such involvement. The Islamic extremists have more patience and staying power.

  5. Danny Lemieux says

    I know many decent, good Palestinians…here in the U.S! However, as a group, they have shown themselves to be so depraved that I have mentally banished them to the far back of the line when it comes to people asking for my sympathy. I am totally numb to stories like this. Nothing good will happen to the Palestinian people until Eurabians and Americans stop enabling their self-destructive behaviors and they are forced to take responsibility for and fix their own problems, beginning with their hearts and souls.

  6. says

    Scott Wilson surprised me today with this:
    A member of the Abu Ghazallah family who witnessed the airstrike said a rocket launcher was near the area where the children were playing. The relative, who declined to be named for fear of reprisal, said the launcher belonged to Islamic Jihad, an armed movement responsible for much of the rocket fire into Israel.

    “I hold the Islamic Jihad responsible for the killing of these children,” the relative said.

    Yes, as DQ wrote the headline leads with the “bleeding.” It is rare for the MSM to confirm the Israeli narrative. And here Wilson did it with the testimony of a Palestinian witness.

    (Wilson isn’t always so careful. Last year when HRW accused Israel of killing a family on a Gaza beach, Wilson credulously reported everything from the faulty HRW standpoint.)

  7. says

    Still, it’s hard to imagine the long-term outcome being changed, since the American people simply will not support a long-term American involvement and will throw out of office anyone who advocates such involvement. The Islamic extremists have more patience and staying power.

    That is discounted by the facts, however. Given that AQ could not stay in Afghanistan, even when some of their previous fighters had American backing as they fought the Soviets.

    The American record of long term American involvement in South Korea and Japan is more length than any competitor.

    Of course Americans will support long term American involvement, including the use of troops, in such places as Kosovo, Germany, and Japan. And these were the places of some the most notable enemies of humanity, don’t you forget, rather than a country like Iraq being attacked by enemies of humanity.

    What you are really saying is that Americans don’t like casualties. So what’s stopping them or you from redeploying all the forces America has occupying everyone else, to Iraq?

  8. says

    The reason why I wouldn’t agree to the Democrats cry for increased troops, especially when I knew that there were plenty of reinforcements to send, because I knew their motivations for their loudness. Increasing troops on their plan would only play into their hands, and they would simply say that troops aren’t enough anyways soon after. There had to be more reason to send in troops than agreeing to Democrat machinations, and Petraeus has given that reason, Don.

  9. says

    Hi Y-man — American don’t like casualties & they don’t like our being where we aren’t wanted. We also don’t like fighting when we don’t see the fighting as necessary to American interests. Since most Americans don’t see a real threat from Iraq (the failure to find WMDs was devastating in that regard), they don’t see any reason for us to be there. Your solutions, which involve heavy flexing of American might, might be the correct one, but a large majority of Americans disagree with that approach. If all of the opinion polls which show that don’t convince you, the election results in 2006 should have.

  10. says

    As you just portrayed, Don, American views are flexible and easily changed. So it doesn’t matter what people agree with or not, because they are easily changed. The real question is how to change them, not what opinion polls and elections demonstrate. Since they don’t demonstrate much statistically given the overlapping causality problems.

  11. says

    Someone help me understand why American military presence seems to follow a selective path when it comes to protecting human freedom or life.

    Why so much staying power in South Korea and Japan but not in Vietnam. And why these heroic resolves to stay on in Middle East but not giving a Shinola when not far from the Middle East people get butchered in Rwanda and Darfur?

    And at any rate, legendary American military presence in Saudi Arabia and Turkey doesn’t seem to be doing much in promoting the liberties of the inhabitants in these countries… Sigh…

  12. says

    Why so much staying power in South Korea and Japan but not in Vietnam. And why these heroic resolves to stay on in Middle East but not giving a Shinola when not far from the Middle East people get butchered in Rwanda and Darfur?

    America leads and therefore decides for herself, via different faction power struggles, where to go and where to stay.

    Anyone that disagrees can send their own forces to Rawanda, after all. Or maybe not. Not many nations or people are willing to shoulder the crushing burden of a world wide military logistical capacity to actually send troops across the globe.

    United States force protection can extend to the entire globe, so long as everyone pays us a reasonable tax of their total gross income and of course providues us with adequate warriors of a high enough IQ or natural intelligence level.

  13. says

    Very well said. Incidentally, that is the truth and stands in direct contradiction to the official slogans of spreading ”democracy” and ”freedom” just for the heck of it.

    There is always one’s own axe to grind, first and foremost.

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