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Booms Over Gaza By: HonestReporting.com
HonestReporting.com | Monday, November 14, 2005

Sidestepping the continuing threat of Qassam rockets flying over the Gaza border towards Israeli population centers, The Guardian reported that:

Israel is deploying a terrifying new tactic against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip by letting loose deafening "sound bombs" that cause widespread fear, induce miscarriages and traumatise children.

Both The Guardian and the BBC quote Palestinian Dr Eyad Sarraj, a psychiatrist, who, in a sweeping statement lacking credible scientific or medical evidence, claims:

the sonic booms are having serious effects on children in Gaza, including anxiety, panic, fear, poor concentration and low academic success.

Sarraj also claims that the number of miscarriages among pregnant women increase during periods of frequent sonic booms.

The Guardian states that 28 sonic booms occurred over the course of last week, in addition to 29 during a period in September - hardly a prolonged period of time in which to produce credible medical evidence to back up these claims. The anecdotal evidence of Dr Sarraj, the head of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (an expert on obstetrics?) is used to back up the story.

In fact, Dr Sarraj is no stranger to giving questionable comment to the media, attempting to explain suicide bombing as the result of the "trauma of Israeli occupation" and stating that "the principle behind [suicide bombing] is that it is better to die in dignity rather than to live in humiliation and shame". Sarraj, while blaming Israel, fails to acknowledge the role of indoctrination and incitement within the Palestinian Authority for creating a breeding ground for suicide bombers.

Sonic booms, by the IDF's own admission, are a loud yet non-lethal reminder to the Palestinian population that terrorists are still operating from within their midst.

Compare, however, The Guardian report with a feature in the same paper only days later on Palestinian Qassam missile attacks on Israeli towns. According to The Guardian, the missiles' "main effect is fear and uncertainty." While underestimating the potential lethality of a Qassam hitting a school, kindergarten or even a child's bedroom, The Guardian at least interviews Israelis directly affected by Qassam strikes. In stark contrast to these credible eyewitnesses, why is it that The Guardian is prepared to take Palestinian anecdotal evidence at face value?

Comments to The Guardian: letters@guardian.co.uk


The sonic boom claims are not, however, the first time that health issues have been hijacked to promote the Palestinian political agenda in the media. As the NGO Monitor points out, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, one of two organizations currently petitioning the Israeli High Court over the use of sonic booms, has a long history of radical anti-Israel political activities.

Sonic booms are not even the first of many 'dastardly Israeli schemes' claimed to affect Palestinian health. The litany of libelous accusations to have appeared in the media, many critiqued by HonestReporting, includes these:

  • Israel deployed radioactive uranium against Palestinian protestors;
  • Suha Arafat's accusation, in the presence of Hillary Clinton, that the IDF made 'extensive use of poisonous gas... which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children.'
  • Israel disseminated bubble gum that sterilized Palestinian girls.
  • Israel sent AIDS-infected prostitutes to infect Palestinian men.

Needless to say, all of these were comprehensively debunked, but only after various media outlets had run the stories and the damage had been done.

A viewing of the 'Pallywood' movie, as featured by HonestReporting, reveals compelling evidence of how the media is manipulated and taken in by such falsehoods. The footage includes a Palestinian doctor coaching his patient into claiming that she had been forced to give birth at an IDF checkpoint as a result of Israeli soldiers detaining her ambulance. This, despite the fact that this supposed 'victim' of Israeli brutality had actually given birth not at a checkpoint, but in the hospital - the very same doctor having performed the delivery himself.

Scholars for Middle East Peace documents many instances of Palestinian abuse of medical norms for political purposes, including misuse of ambulances and violation of medical neutrality, false reports of Israeli medical malfeasance, and diversion of public health funds to terrorism.

So perhaps it is time that certain media outlets start to question the bedside manner of so-called Palestinian 'health officials' who act in the service of demonizing Israel and promoting false or exaggerated propaganda.


Stephanie Gutmann's new book, "The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy", is reviewed by Townhall:

"The Other War" isn't a sterile, number crunching analysis of news headlines and journalists' political predilections. Instead, it has the refreshing feel of a documentary...

Ms. Gutmann lays the blame where it mostly belongs: on moral relativist, reflexively anti-Israel journalists. Sometimes, though, the biased coverage isn't entirely their fault. Palestinians with guns, Ms. Gutmann writes, don't allow themselves to be photographed if they can help it. (Imagine the response if Israel adopted that policy). And often, the Palestinians won't haul out the guns until nighttime. During the day, when the cameras are clicking, it's all sticks and stones.

Speaking recently in San Francisco, Ms. Gutmann stated:

I wanted to do a primer about media coverage and how it works. I still find people who say 'it must be true because I saw it on CNN.' If people think that's the absolute truth, there's still a place to remind them that news is manufactured by people and that people are involved in every step of the way.

"The Other War" is a valuable contribution in the battle to reveal what really goes on behind the scenes of Mideast media coverage and recommended reading on this important issue.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.

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