These days, trying to control reporting seems a fairly futile endeavour.
…denying access to Gaza to all Western correspondents might have backfired on Israel. The result has been that it is Gazans themselves, including some 300 local journalists, who have kept the world focused on their plight. More significantly, the most watched Arab television news channels are all in Gaza, giving saturation coverage to the conflict, even three weeks after its start.
The English-language sister channel of al-Jazeera, with two reporters in Gaza, has flourished in the absence of Western competitors, such as CNN. Its coverage has been graphic but sombre in tone. This contrasts with the hyperbole on many Arabic-language networks, where charges of Israeli “genocide”, mixed with unsubstantiated reports of Hamas’s military successes, have been frequent, accompanied by dramatic music and filler material looping pictures of dead children.
Hamas has been largely sidelined from this effort, although its television still beams feebly, airing martial pomp and pre-recorded speeches. The group has even tried its hand at phoning threatening messages to Israelis and posting propaganda on the internet. But what has really turned the tide is the ceaseless stream of appalling imagery that fills the Arab satellite channels. Their passion is certainly not always professional, but the gore, distress and misery they portray are all too real.
It seems hard to believe Israel didn’t know this would happen – so one wonders what was behind the decision. Simple concern for the welfare of foreign journalists? (They might get blown up by accident, and, their deaths would bring about, not just their deaditude, but also a fair measure of international condemnation). Embededness would get around this possibility, but who’d agree to being embedded with the Israeli army?