The Israel-Palestine conflict is back in the news today in the wake of the tragic deaths of 18 Palestinians in the Gazan town of Beit Hanoun as a result of an apparent misfire of Israeli shells.
There has been widespread international condemnation of Israel as a result of the shelling while the Palestinian leadership has vowed to renew suicide bombings against the Israelis. For their part, the Israelis expressed regret about the tragedy and offered aid for the wounded.
The incident was covered all of the daily newspapers available in Melbourne. The Australian Newspaper and Melbourne's Herald Sun covered the story and provided at least a little context to the Israeli shelling by reference to the IDF's operation to deter the firing of rockets from the area into southern Israeli communities.
Predictably however, the Melbourne Age chose to provide a report from Nidal al-Mughrabi of Reuters which simply fails to provide any of that context for its readers who must be left wondering why on earth those nasty Israelis were operating in the area [RETALIATION URGED OVER GAZA SHELLS] ?
Thankfully, there are some journalists who have the desire to paint a more complete picture in order to provide the necessary context to such a tragic story as that of the deaths in Gaza - journalists like Anne Barnard and Sa'id Ghazali of the Boston Globe. Their report told us what Zakaria al-Kafarna, an uncle of one of the victims, said:-
"... he blamed the bombing in part on militants who fired rockets nearby. Anyone can come to the area and fire a rocket, he said. 'What about us? We are sleeping.'"
Why are there "militants" firing rockets across the border at Israeli towns and from inside such heavily populated areas as Beit Hanoun?
A little over a year ago, Israel departed from Gaza and ended its occupation of land inhabited by 1.4m Palestinians.
Surely, the withdrawal from Gaza would have provided the Palestinians, governed then by Fatah and now by Hamas, with a perfect opportunity to show the world that they can develop a peaceful civil society in at least this part of the world.
All we heard was the thunder of Quassam rockets, the noise of the destruction of greenhouses, the digging of more tunnels with which to import weapons of war into the hands of terrorists and the din of the critics who complained that Israel was still in "occupation" because it controlled the borders, the airspace, the ports etc. There were even those among the Palestinians who were desperately searching for a Gaza equivalent of the Sheba Farms to hang their "no end to occupation" hats upon.
And during that time, Beit Hanoun has been a hub of terror activity - a place where some of those smuggled weapons have been discovered by the IDF and a place where Quassams are being fired at Israeli towns on a daily basis.
The Palestinian government has done nothing to prevent the smuggling of the weapons or the firing of the Quassams.
And the Melbourne Age has done little to report on this activity or the looming tragedy for the people on both sides of the green line between Israel and Palestine as a result of the weapons build up and the continuing indiscriminate firing of rockets at civilian targets.
FOOTNOTE: Among the ignored items in much of the media was the report from earlier this week about the Palestinian woman suicide bomber who blew herself up in Gaza. There have been several other unsuccessful and unreported suicide bombing attempts in recent months which have remained on the Blank Pages. These attempts come with the full support of the official Palestinian Authority media. You can read about these in Arnold Roth's excellent blog This Ongoing War.