NYT: Gaza War Worked

Isabel Kershner writes a piece in the New York Times (10/9/09) that starts out as a profile of an Israeli artist who makes flowers out of Qassam rocket pieces. The main point, though, is to discuss thechanged reality in southern Israel, thanks to the invasion of the Gaza Strip late last year that killed over 1,000 Palestinians:

Israel said its three-week offensive was intended to change the reality in the south. Since January, when the military campaign ended, the rocket fire has significantly fallen off and residents here are trying to accustom themselves to a kind of normalcy amid the lingering uncertainty and fear.

This recycles the myth that rocket fire was a constant barrage until the war changed all that– a point Kershner makes more explicitly later:

According to the Israeli military, some 3,300 rockets and mortar shells were launched from Gaza at southern Israel in 2008, compared with fewer than 300 since the end of the war.

This is highly misleading; much of that rocket fire came at the end of the year– after the invasion and bombing of Gaza was underway. In fact, a negotiated peace prevailed for much of the middle of 2008–which is something that you would have learned if you were a careful reader of the New York Times.Right before the invasion, the paper (12/19/08) reported that much of 2008 was quiet:

Israeli and United Nations figures show that while more than 300 rockets were fired into Israel in May, 10 to 20 were fired in July, depending on who was counting and whether mortar rounds were included. In August, 10 to 30 were fired, and in September, 5 to 10.

Rocket fire increased significantlyin November after Israel attacked a Hamas tunnel and killed six militants. For a graphic understanding of the rate of rocket/mortar fire, see this (which is based on Israeli figures).

The more natural lesson to draw is that negotiations work better than violence. This is apparentlynot what the New York Times wants you to believe, though they did once report that reality. Perhaps it was an accident.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.