Tunnel Vision on the Gaza Border

On Monday, the IDF destroyed a tunnel that had been dug from Gaza across the border into Israeli territory to carry out terrorist acts. Specifically, there was a plot to send operatives to kidnap Israelis to be used as hostages for the negotiation of the release of Palestinian prisoners.

The operation was a complete success. The tunnel was blasted out of existence using what Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called “a breakthrough technology,” something that has been in the works for several years and has now become an effective tool in countering the incessant attempts on the part of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others to infiltrate underground.

B’chasdei Shamayim, no Israeli soldiers or civilians were harmed. The tunnel was discovered and obliterated before it could pose any immediate danger to communities in southern Israel.

Furthermore, there is reason to be hopeful that it will mark a turning point in the tunnel war. An IDF officer was quoted on Wednesday as saying that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are shifting their focus away from digging tunnels in order to attack to maintaining their defensive infrastructure.

Perhaps now the terrorists of Gaza will realize the futility of continued tunneling and give up on it.

However, while the operation was a complete success on the ground, or under it, it was not completely successful in the field of media coverage or propaganda.

The statement from Iran condemning the “bloodthirsty Zionist regime” can be dismissed as the ranting of genocidal madmen, hardly worth a dishonorable mention.

Of more concern is the treatment given to the story in the global media.

The IDF in its statement on the operation stressed that the tunnel had penetrated deep into Israeli territory, was a clear violation of sovereignty and that appropriate action was taken to defend its citizenry.

This is an explanation that the regime in Tehran may not be able to comprehend or accept, but should suffice for most reasonable people elsewhere. That is, if they are presented with the facts.

Unfortunately, people who get their news from the Washington Post, the BBC and the Guardian were not presented with the facts, at least not all of them.

As the media watchdog Honest Reporting pointed out, all three failed to mention that the tunnel had been destroyed from the Israeli side of the border. Although they did say that the tunnel extended from Gaza into Israeli territory, that information was saved for the main story, not necessarily in the opening sentence, leaving the headline to give a false impression of what happened.

The BBC headlined their story, “Gaza: Palestinian militants killed as Israelis hit tunnel.” The Post and Guardian had very similar headlines.

The impression given is that it occurred in Gaza, which was not the case. This allowed Hamas and Islamic Jihad to portray the incident as an aggression against them, in their territory, which is what they proceeded to do, and vowing bloody retaliation as well.

Following a complaint about the distorted coverage, BBC was said to have printed a corrected version. However, a check on the BBC website on Wednesday showed the headline running unchanged.

Even if a correction was made, first impressions are hard to undo, especially when the audience wants to believe the worst. As for the Post and Guardian, no correction was made as of this writing.

The government spokesmen in Tehran don’t run retractions, at least when it comes to vilifications of Israel.

The IDF spokesman cannot be faulted for the mendacity of Israel’s sworn enemies, nor the bias or incompetence of some news organizations. He described the operation accurately, stressing the true nature of it, which was defensive.

And, as we see, there is a limit to how much a media watchdog can do to keep them honest. Ultimately, it is up to those journalists to monitor their own coverage, such that corrections and retractions should not be necessary.

Finally, a word about militants. All three news organizations mentioned above, and the rest of the global media, employed this marvel of political correctness in coverage of the tunnel action, as they do routinely — indeed, determinedly — in their reporting on the likes of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.

The terminology has been a point of contention for years, and the media refuse to relent. They will not call a terrorist a terrorist. That is too subjective for them. Too much like taking sides. They prefer the euphemism militant, even though the term connotes as much an angry activist holding up a placard as a masked Palestinian carrying an automatic weapon.

But to the Israeli government and its citizens under constant threat from these bloodthirsty murderers, there is no other word for them.

Hamodia, too, will b’ezras Hashem continue to refer to them by what they are — terrorists.