The corporate media's slavish subserviance to the Israel lobby's demand for 'balance' degenerated into farce on the ABC's 7.30 Report of 15/1/09. The item, ABC sheds some light on Gaza carnage, began by promising a rare look inside Gaza. As presenter Mark Bannerman put it: "Israel banned foreign journalists from entering Gaza to provide independent reports. The ABC gained access to Gaza's main hospital where doctors struggle to cope with the continuing carnage."
ABC television's man-on-the-mound (you know, the one from which you've been observing those smoke plumes in distant, down-there Gaza these past weeks), Middle East correspondent Matt Brown took it from there: "It's been a stunning display of raw power. The Israeli military machine, amongst the most powerful in the world, has gone to war against Hamas, the Islamist militants that rule the Gaza Strip."
After first relieving himself of the regulation Israeli Talking Point - "It's determined to stop Hamas launching rockets into Israel" - Matt takes us to Gaza's "ground zero" of suffering, Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where we meet Dr Mohammad Elron who has "barely slept or seen his family since the crisis began." Matt is amazed at the toll the attacks have taken on the children of Gaza. "It was predictable, given more than half the population is under 18," he comments sagely. Why, even Dr Elron's own son was "hit in the face by shrapnel 2 weeks ago." To our immense relief , and no doubt to Matt's great surprise, the good doctor "isn't a member of Hamas," is "not even a supporter," and "wants an end to the violence." Which must be what makes him good, unlike, say, your bad doctor who is either a member/supporter of Hamas, and therefore, wants "the violence" to go on, and on, and on, and... Not that we actually heard Matt ask Dr Elron about his political affiliations and/or sympathies, mind you. The good doctor explains how overwhelmed and under-resourced they are at Shifa. We need "everything," he says.
Matt marvels: "The scale of the attacks is unprecedented. And so are some of the injuries. Israel's been firing white phosphorus to light up the sky and hide its troops on the front line... [but] militants and civilians alike are turning up at Shifa with terrible white burns or phosphorus poisoning." At which exact half-way point, before we can even get a close up of the phosphorus as it burns and smokes its way through human flesh all the way to the bone, Matt, who has spent most of his time in Israel either standing on his mound overlooking Gaza or reporting on the traumatised citizens of the Israeli town of Sderot, switches from sauteed Palestinians to, yes, you guessed it, Sderot!
As the camera pans in on a slight indentation in the road*, Matt tells us that "the roads bear the scars of many a near miss and the bus stop is equipped with a bomb shelter." We meet ambo Gil Asiskovitz who has "gone out to a rocket strike... thousands" of times. Of course, Matt doesn't ask about the number killed [9 in Sderot in 8 years**] and injured , or about the nature of their injuries. We're just left with the general impression that thousands [actually, 2,383] of rockets means thousands of killed and wounded and that poor old Gil must be as sleep-deprived as Dr Elron attending to them. And then, as if on cue - you're not going to believe this - another bloody Qassam on the way! Scene of running medics: "Inside, inside. It's now directed to Sderot. We are going to the safety room. Medics must take shelter until the rocket falls. But then they'll rush straight to the scene."
"Despite the drama," Matt informs us, "the mission is kept as low-key as possible." Ambo Gil explains: "All the cases where ambulance going, we don't operate sirens because this is a stress indicator for the people... here, we just going with a red light." And, at the (presumed - we don't get to see it) impact site? "The only casualty... was a woman suffering an anxiety attack. Her symptoms get worse every time a rocket falls." Explains Gil again, "The stress syndrome is a wide range. They are trembling. They are not cooperating. They got chest pains. They hypertension rises up to 200 and more." Yes, pretty bloody uncomfortable alright. But there's more: "The government says it's not just the number of people who have been killed that matters [19 according to Matt], but the fact that more than a million*** are within range of the rockets and they shouldn't have to live their lives in fear that at any minute they'll need to take shelter."
And that's the last we see of ambo Gil. Seeing as Matt didn't bother to ask him if he was a member/supporter of any of those Zionist extremist outfits, Kadima/Likud/Labour/etc, that have been occupying, shelling, strafing, bombing and rocketing Gaza since time immemorial, we unfortunately don't know whether he was a good or a bad ambo.
The sleepless in Sderot want a "permanent fix," Matt tells us. Says one such, "The military operation is good. I hope it continues and and destroys them, leaving them dust in Gaza." Comments Matt somewhat infelicitously: "Some of Gaza's neighbourhood's dust is almost all that's left."
[*Contrast with Amira Hass' description of Gaza City's main throughfare: "... Nasser Street which has been closed to traffic for over a year. Its asphalt is torn out and it is riddled with potholes and mounds of sand." (This is Gaza, Haaretz, 30/12/08)][**mfa.gov.il] [*** See my 6/1/09 post Go Figure 2]