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Media Analyses





Journalists Buy Falsehoods on Gaza Shipments


Raed Fattouh, a coordinator for the Palestinian Authority's Economy Ministry, is selling the falsehood that certain products -- wood, aluminum and commercial shipments of shoes and clothing -- are entering the Gaza Strip from Israel for the first time since the blockade began in 2007, and journalists are buying in bulk.

Wood and Aluminum

The New York Times' Fares Akram reported April 16, "Also Thursday, Israel allowed some wood and aluminum into Gaza for the first time since it blockaded the area in 2007, a Palestinian official said" (emphasis added). The International Herald Tribune, published by the New York Times, also ran a version of the Akram article including the error.

Similarly, the Agence France Presse reported April 15, in an article erroneously entitled "Israel allows first building shipment into Gaza in 3 years":

Israel allowed a shipment of construction material into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip for the first time in three years, according to a Palestinian official.

The six truckloads of wood and aluminum entered the coastal territory via the Kerem Shalom crossing in the south, Palestinian customs official Raed Fattuh told AFP. . .

In actuality, Palestinian sources such as the Palestine Trade Center (PalTrade), the Palestinian Al-Ayyam newspaper, and the Ma'an News Agency document that tens of thousands of tons of construction material including wood and construction metal entered the Gaza Strip during the "hudna" (truce) period from June 19, 2008 to Dec. 19, 2008. Thus, the Dec. 09-Jan. 10 Gaza Strip Crossings Bi-Monthly Monitoring Report states:

During the truce or "hudna" period, that started on June 19, 2008 and ended on December 19, 2008, commercial goods were allowed to enter Gaza Strip including aggregates, cement, construction metal, wood, car tires, clothes, shoes and fruit juice.

The April 2009 PalTrade report specifies (page 7) that during the truce period, 5,413 truckloads of contruction materials, mostly aggregates and cement entered the Gaza Strip from Israel. More specifically, the August 2008 PalTrade "Gaza Terminals Movement Monitoring Monthly Report" documents that 36 truckloads (3,250 tons) of wood entered the Gaza Strip that month through crossings with Israel and two truckloads of construction metal (80 tons) entered. In September, that month's PalTrade report states that 29 truckloads of wood (19,453 tons) entered the Gaza Strip, and in October one truck of wood (67 tons) entered.
 
Source: September 2008 PalTrade "Gaza Terminals Movement Monitoring Monthly Report," page 5 

Likewise, Ma'an News Agency reported Aug. 8, 2008: "Forty-one truckloads of food supplies, stationary and wood will be allowed into the Gaza Strip, said the head of the office the [sic] de facto minister of economy, Hatem Iwiedah on Friday." In addition, Al-Ayyam reported Aug. 18, 2008: "For the first time since June 2007, Israel authorized the entry of two cargos of wood into the Gaza Strip yesterday [17 August] and last Thursday [14 August]. . . From this list, so far only wood has been allowed entry, as was the case yesterday."

As for other construction material, such as cement, the September 2009 PalTrade report states that during the truce period cement imports from Israel averaged 5,000 tons per month.

Shoes and Clothes

Fattouh is likewise cashing in on his false claims that commercial shipments of shoes and clothes have not entered the Gaza Strip from Israel since the 2007 blockade started. An April 5 Associated Press article, for example, states: "A Gaza border official says Israel has allowed a commercial shipment of shoes and clothes into the blockaded Palestinian territory for the first time since 2007."

Likewise, the Toronto Star published an erroneous Reuters report by Nidal al-Mughrabi April 5, ("Gaza retailers receive shipment of shoes, clothing; Stock is first to arrive since Israel blockaded territory three years ago," emphasis added.): "Israel allowed a shipment of clothes and shoes for Palestinian traders into the Gaza Strip on Sunday for the first time in its almost three-year blockade of the Hamas-controlled enclave" (emphasis added). Ha'aretz, which a year ago seriously misreported which products were banned from the Gaza Strip, picked up the erroneous Reuters stories here and here.

In addition, Rory McCarthy, writing for the Guardian, begins an April 7 article by erring: "Israeli authorities have allowed shoes and clothes into the Gaza Strip for the first time in three years of the tight economic blockade of the Palestinian territory." The headline falsely claims: "Small comfort for traders as Gaza blockade loosened: Israel allows in clothes for the first time in three years. . . "

According to Palestinian sources, such as the Palestine Trade Center (PalTrade), Israel did indeed allow commercial shipments including thousands of tons of shoes and clothes during the "hudna" period. Thus, the December 2009 - January 2010 "Gaza Strip Crossings Bi-Monthly Monitoring Report" states:

During the truce or "hudna" period, that started on June 19, 2008 and ended on December 19, 2008, commercial goods were allowed to enter Gaza Strip including aggregates, cement, construction metal, wood, car tires, clothes, shoes and fruit juice.

Specifically, the August 2008 PalTrade "Gaza Terminals Movement Monitoring Monthly Report" states that 150 truckloads of clothes and shoes (3671 tons) entered the Gaza Strip through Israeli crossings that month. According to the September 2008 PalTrade report, 82 truckloads of clothes and shoes (1,180 tons) entered the strip that month. In October 2008, PalTrade reported that 66 truckloads of clothes and shoes (1125 tons) entered the Gaza Strip. The information in the July 2008 report is less specific, but does indicate that 2 percent of the total of 4,715 truckloads of imports that month consisted of clothes and shoes.

Source: August 2008PalTrade "Gaza Terminals Movement Monitoring Monthly Report," page 5 

Making Good on Bad Goods

CAMERA has notified all of the aforementioned media outlets of the misinformation provided by Raed Fattouh and has provided the appropriate documentation from PalTrade debunking his claims. As a result, one media outlet instructed its journalists to refrain from using Fattouh as a source unless his information could be verified by an additional reliable source. Stay tuned for word of more updates and corrections.


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