"Gaza is still under occupation by Israel. The status of Gaza and its occupation should not be confused. Israel “disengaged” from Gaza in 2005, which means that it removed its illegal settlements and its ground forces from the territory."
September 14, 2023
Anne Marie Owens, Editor-in-chief, Toronto Star
Josef Federman, News Director, Jerusalem, AP
Dear Anne Marie Owens and Josef Federman,
I am writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to express concern regarding your September 14 article, “Powerful explosion kills 5 Palestinians in Gaza: Israel says the blast was caused by a mishandled bomb.”
The article reports that a mishandled bomb caused an explosion that killed 5 Palestinians and injured 20 in Gaza, and that the explosion happened on the anniversary of "Israel’s withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005."
There are two significant issues that I would like to draw your attention to.
First, Gaza is still under occupation by Israel. The status of Gaza and its occupation should not be confused. Israel “disengaged” from Gaza in 2005, which means that it removed its illegal settlements and its ground forces from the territory. However, Gaza is still under Israel’s effective control (and as such remains “occupied”) according to key experts in the international, humanitarian, and human rights sectors, such as the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Amnesty International, and many others.
In 2022, Amnesty International concluded that:
Even though Israel withdrew Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it retained effective control over the territory, which it tightened further through an unlawful air, sea and land blockade, and an official policy separating Gaza from the West Bank, following Hamas’s takeover of the territory two years later. As a result, the entirety of the West Bank and Gaza Strip remains under Israeli military occupation, with Israel controlling the Palestinian population living there, their natural resources and, with the exception of Gaza’s short southern border with Egypt, their land and sea borders and airspace. [emphasis added]
Using terms like "withdraw" and "clash" completely disregards the context of extreme asymmetry of power and feeds into the narrative that this is a war or conflict between two equal parties. Therefore, I insist that you include the context of the ongoing occupation of Gaza and that the verb disengage is used instead of withdraw.
Second, your article shows bias towards the Israeli side of the story, which exacerbates the asymmetry just mentioned. Your article references the Israeli army perspective which should be nuanced by adding a Palestinian perspective. Therefore, I insist that you add a Palestinian perspective to your article.
We expect that these changes will be made and that a more balanced and accurate approach will be adopted in future reporting: that the Star will acknowledge Israel’s occupation and include a Palestinian perspective, as a matter of professional journalistic integrity.
Should you wish, you can contact me at 438-380-5410 for more information.
Media Analyst, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East