"First, the onus of blame in this article is unreasonably placed on the Palestinians. A phrase like this one – “This week’s events recall a bloody protest campaign organized by Hamas in 2018 and 2019” – suggests that the “bloodiness” came from Hamas. In fact, it was not the Palestinians who were violent, but rather Israel which responded to the demonstrations with live ammunition."
September 20, 2023
Donovan Vincent, Public Editor, Toronto Star
Josef Federman, News Director, Associated Press
Issam Adwan, Journalist, Associated Press
Dear Donovan Vincent, Josef Federman, and Issam Adwan,
I am writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, cjpme.org) to insist on correction of your September 20 article, “One Palestinian dies and Israel shuts down main crossing with Gaza after outbreak of border violence.”
First, the onus of blame in this article is unreasonably placed on the Palestinians. A phrase like this one – “This week’s events recall a bloody protest campaign organized by Hamas in 2018 and 2019” – suggests that the “bloodiness” came from Hamas. In fact, it was not the Palestinians who were violent, but rather Israel which responded to the demonstrations with live ammunition. Israel shot unarmed civilians, including a Canadian medical doctor.
That sentence needs rewording. We suggest as an alternative: “This week’s events recall what Palestinians call the Great March of Return, a series of demonstrations in Gaza from 2018–2019 that aimed to challenge the exclusion of Palestinian refugees from their former homes in what is now Israel. Israel fired on the demonstrators with live ammunition.”
It is also a striking oversight that the whole of this article contains no use of the word “occupation” or its derivatives, like “occupied.” Legal experts generally agree that Gaza is itself still legally occupied by Israel. This year, the International Committee of the Red Cross restated this opinion: the ICRC “Considers Gaza to remain occupied territory.”
Language indicating as much needs to be included in coverage of Gaza. Similarly, your reference to “Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site” needs to be updated with a phrase indicating that the location in question is in “occupied and annexed East Jerusalem.”
In sum, the language and details in this article need to change to accurately inform your readers so that they can understand these most recent developments.
As a general background paragraph on Gaza, we would suggest:
The Gaza Strip is the southwestern remnant of historic Palestine that remained beyond the control of Israel in the form that its frontiers were established in 1949. Of the more than two million Palestinians living in Gaza, an estimated 1.7 million are refugees from pre-1967 Israel. Israel occupied the Gaza Strip in 1967. In 2005, Israel “disengaged” its ground troops and settlers from Gaza, but it retains control of Gaza’s borders and airspace. Legal experts and the International Committee of the Red Cross maintain that Israel is still the occupying power in Gaza.
Feel free to contact me at 438-380-5410 if you would like to discuss this further.
PhD, University of Exeter
Director of Strategic Operations
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East/
Canadiens pour la Justice et la Paix au Moyen-Orient