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Lights On, Nobody Home By: HonestReporting.com
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, January 25, 2008

Today's headlines include the LA Times's "Gaza dark amid Israeli blockade" and The Guardian's "Gaza plunged into darkness as Israeli fuel blockade takes effect". Similar headlines appear in many media outlets. You could be forgiven for thinking that Israel has cut off the entire electricity supply to the Gaza Strip.

Despite ongoing Qassam attacks from the territory, Israel has not switched off the electricity. In fact, Hamas itself shut down Gaza's only power station after inviting the media to watch it do so.

The mainstream media ultimately assisted Hamas in creating the impression of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The fact is Israel has restricted fuel supplies in response to the terrorism emanating from Gaza but continues to provide the Palestinians with electricity.

The Times of London omits this vital fact altogether in a story headlined "Darkness falls on Gaza as Israel takes revenge for rocket attacks". AFP, while quoting Israeli officials, also omitted the facts leaving readers with the impression that Israel is simply denying responsibility.

While Gazans are undoubtedly suffering, the dark picture painted by the mainstream media is different from the reality. As the Israel's Foreign Ministry notes, the supply of electricity to Gaza from the Israel and the Egyptian power grids (124 Megawatts and 17 Megawatts respectively) has continued uninterrupted. These 141 Megawatts of power represents about three quarters of Gaza's electricity needs.

Israel Electric Company workers' committee chairman Miko Zarfati goes further:

"This is Palestinian spin. No one has stopped the supply of electricity to the Strip," Zarfati told Ynet. He claimed that his employees worked day and night in a power plant in Ashkelon while putting themselves in danger of being hit by Qassam rockets falling in the area.

The Gaza power plant only produces 30% of the electricity consumed in the Strip while Israel supplies the rest.

"It is simply offensive and arrogant for them to claim that there is shortage," Zarfati said....

"The situation is totally absurd. We're continuing to supply them electricity despite the (demand) overload for electricity in Israel and despite the fact that Israeli residents and Electric Company workers that are being sent to Gaza Vicinity communities are under threat from Qassam rockets," Zarfati railed.

Ha'aretz also reports that despite the blackout in Gaza City, southern and central Gaza - which receive electricity from Israel and Egypt directly - were not affected by the shutdown.

Hamas manipulation of the media is evident in an AP story that reported "Children marched through dark streets holding candles, an angry Hamas TV announcer shouted at the camera "We are being killed, we are starving!"

Once again, the mainstream media has wittingly or unwittingly fallen into the Hamas trap. By plunging Gaza into darkness, the terrorist organization has managed to shift the story away from its own responsibility for the Qassams and terror on Sderot. Instead, Israel's image is taking a beating for a perceived humanitarian crisis of Hamas's own making.

Please correct the stories from The Times and AFP by writing to letters@thetimes.co.uk and http://www.afp.com/english/afp/?pid=contact respectively.

Also write to your local media outlets if you feel that they are not giving sufficient context and information to this story. Full contact details for many media can be found on HonestReporting's website.

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