During Alaqsa Intifada, which started on September 29, 2000, both the Palestinians and the Israelis were very aware of the media power. Thus, there was a competition between the two on this field. This competition negatively affected the media and their coverage. Instead of enhancing the media, this competition moved the media from being a fourth state to be a fourth branch for government.
The Israeli government tried to silence the Palestinian and International media and prevent them from covering Alaqsa Intifada. Also, since the beginning of Alaqsa Intifada, the Israeli news media has largely supported the Israeli military and government without serving as an objective venue for accurate reporting.
This press pictured the situation as if Israel was in a state of emergency, or a state of war, and represents the Israelis as victims of the Palestinian terror. “Never have the media been so influential in determining the course of war as during Alaqsa Intifada.
srael has already poured hundreds of millions of dollars into what in Hebrew is called Hasabara, or information for the outside world (hence, propaganda)…Because so many powerful people in the media and publishing business are strong supporters to Israel, the task is made vastly easier” (Said, 2001). *
This strategy succeeded in forming a different picture in the minds of western people. A statistic carried out by the Glasgow University Media Group contains a study of 300 young people. 79 percent did not know that it was the Israelis who were occupying the territories. Only 9 percent knew that it was the Israelis who were occupying the territories and that the settlers were Israelis. 10 percent believed that the Palestinians were occupying the territories and that the settlers were Palestinians (Philo et al., 2003).
The attacks against the Palestinian media organizations started less than one month after the beginning of the Alaqsa Intifada. On October 11, 2000, the Israeli army used helicopter missiles to destroy the Palestinian TV transmission dishes and the radio transmission tower in Ramallah.
In fact, this early stage of Alaqsa Intifada produced a very powerful image for the Palestinians. One example being the dramatic pictures of Mohammad al-Durrah being shot and killed as he and his father attempted to shield them from the crossfire.
Furthermore, on January 19, 2002 the Israeli army bombarded the building of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation. In March and April 2002 the Israeli army re-occupied all Palestinian controlled cities and occupied the headquarters of several media centers and private TV stations, damaging the premises and equipment.
In Ramallah for example, after arresting the stations’ staff, the Israeli armed forces took over and started to broadcast pornographic material from the TV stations.
Throughout this Intifada, the Israeli army followed a strategy to shoot on the journalists and media crews before committing crimes against the Palestinians protesters; that is in order to prevent them from covering or catching photos of the crime. In fact, these acts caused the death of at least 10 Journalists and 100 injuries. In addition to that, the Israeli Government Press Office has allegedly prepared what it calls a ‘Black List’ of Palestinian media workers.
Another strategy used by the Israeli government to silence the press was through closing the Palestinian areas in the face of the media, declare it as a military closed area, and push journalists away from the events areas by force and destroying their cameras.
Regarding this, Almanar TV correspondent in Gaza, Imad Eid says: “the Israelis succeed in preventing us from covering the events. As when they closed the checkpoints and nobody, even the journalists, can reach to the event place. These events, even if they are covered by words that it is not enough, because we rely on the power of visuals”. To the foreign journalists, there is a warning for them when they first arrive to the Israeli airport, that if they tried to enter the Palestinian territories their lives would be in great risk.
The Israeli advice, of course, is that you don’t have to go there, and if you do, you will be the only one responsible for your life and personal safety. This causes hesitation among the foreign journalists from going to the Palestinian territories.
* Said, Edward (2001), Propaganda and War. Znet Magazie Online, http:// www.zmag.org/meastwatch/propwar.htm
* Philo, Greg, Glimour, Alison, Glimour, Maureen, Rust, Sussana, Gaskell, Etta and West, Lucy (2003), ‘ The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: TV News and the Public Understanding’, in Thussu, Daya and Freedman, Des ( Eds.), War and the Media, pp. 133-161. Sage.
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