Gaza is a difficult place to live, to say the least. And in its current condition, the terrorist-ruled coastal enclave provides a tantalizingly easy propaganda tool with which to smear Israel. Even mundane news about annual weather cycles can be used to feed the anti-Israel machine.
Such was the case late last month when media outlets around the world (not only the Arab Press) frantically reported that Israel was deliberately flooding residential areas in Gaza by opening dams in the southern Negev region.
The rumor naturally played well on the likes of Al Jazeera, but even mainstream Western media like France’s AFP and Britain’s Daily Mail got in on the action. A video posted to AFP’s wire service was titled “Gaza village floods after Israel opens dam gates,” while the Daily Mail accused Israel of “leaving hundreds of Palestinians homeless.”
Not only did these professional journalists fail to fact-check the story, they didn’t even bother to notice that the same false rumor has been propagated every winter for the past several years.
Had they done so, these gatekeepers of Western public opinion would have realized that Israel has no dams that can be opened and closed in its southern region, and that Gaza is simply a low-lying coastal area that unfortunately suffers severe flooding during winters with average-to-above average rainfall.
The Daily Mail did later publish a retraction, but, as usual, the damage had already been done.
One story most of these media outlets chose not to cover was the announcement last week that Israel would soon double the amount of fresh water it provides to Gaza. The coastal strip’s growing population is overtaxing the local natural water resources, and Israel is stepping in to help alleviate the crisis.
Also receiving little coverage was last week’s acknowledgement by Palestinian Authority spokesman Osama Qawassmeh that the bulk of Gaza’s residents want to flee not because of Israel, but to escape the cruelty of the Hamas regime.
“Do you know that more than 90 percent of our people in the Gaza Strip want to emigrate, if given the chance, so they could escape from your regime?” Qawassmeh asked Gaza-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, further wondering, “Do you feel any national responsibility toward the Palestinians and their cause?”