NYT vs. WaPo on Life in Gaza

Today’s Washington Post (12/21/10) brings a story by Janine Zacharia headlined, “Aid groups decry Israel’s Gaza constraints.” The lead:

Despite recent moves by Israel to ease construction in the Gaza Strip, restrictions on building materials are hampering international humanitarian efforts while doing little to impede the Hamas-led government they are designed to weaken, aid and nongovernmental groups say.

The groups say thatIsrael is “snarling the delivery of materials to international relief organizations struggling to build much-needed housing, schools and infrastructure projects.” Zacharia goes on:

But even as Gaza’s economy shows signs of improvement, its humanitarian needs remain widespread. Thousands of homes damaged in a punishing three-week war with Israel in 2008-2009 are yet to be rebuilt. Millions of liters of raw sewage are spilling into the Mediterranean Sea because treatment plants remain in disrepair. And experts say Gaza’s rapidly growing population of 1.5 million could run out of fresh drinking water by 2015 if the infrastructure is not overhauled.

Thisaccount is an interesting contrast to a recent article (12/17/10) by Ethan Bronner of theNew York Times. The headline alone would give some sign that the Times sees things differently: “Gaza Mends, but Israelis See Signs of Trouble.” The primary concern would seem to be that Gaza is showing some signs of rebounding–which is apparently bad news for Israel:

Two years after the Israeli military swooped down here in a three-week war that destroyed thousands of buildings, killed about 1,300 people and largely deterred rocket fire, things are starting to shift again in Gaza. But they seem to be shifting backward, creating a sense of déjÃÂ vu. The economic siege is easing, and the border is heating up. Israel hoped that the blockade would break Hamas. Instead, Hamas is fully in charge, Israel is frustrated and another confrontation seems possible.

Israeli officials, readers are told, saw the humanitarian needs in Gaza, and responded accordingly:

Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, who runs civilian affairs in Gaza for the Israeli Defense Ministry, said that 78 civilian projects had been approved and that they included hospitals, schools and housing, although only half had been started. All those projects involve international groups that decline to work with Hamas.

And what of the humanitarian groups working in Gaza, who see things very differently? They receive a passing mention:

Twenty-two human rights and aid organizations recently published a report saying that Israel had not yet carried out its obligations to change its policy and that life here remained unchanged.

The Post sees this as the news; the Times sees it more like a footnote to a story about how Israelis view the threat from the Gaza Strip.

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.