Laura King’s Blind Spot

In a striking display of tunnel vision, Los Angeles Times Jerusalem correspondent Laura King missed the plainly clear evidence that many Palestinian residents of Gaza resent Hamas for endangering their neighborhoods by launching attacks against Israel from the area.

Reporting on March 11 (“Doubts Mount About Israel’s Targeting of Militants in Hamas,”) she writes:

The Israeli army says one of its main objectives in Gaza is to limit the ability of Hamas to fire short-range Kassam rockets at Israeli towns. But rocketing continued even while Israeli tanks spent four days dug in at one of the prime launching spots in northern Gaza. Thus far, the crude homemade rockets have been mainly a psychological weapon, causing minor damage and few injuries.

Israeli officials have asserted that resentment of Hamas is beginning to build in the neighborhoods it uses as its base, with people holding the militants responsible for provoking Israeli raids. But it is difficult to find any evidence of that on the ground. (Emphasis added)

Had Laura King lifted her eyes off the “ground” and done her homework, she would have found evidence. In late January, Talal Okal, a highly respected columnist for the Palestinian Authority’s daily Al-Ayyam, printed a column which he said reflected public opinion. He condemned the attacks, stating: “This is an unsuccessful method in the ongoing confrontation. The mortar shells and rockets that are fired every now and then have no impact and cause no losses. They also lack a deterrent capability.” He criticized the failure of Palestinian leaders meeting in Cairo to address the issue: “Why did they ignore the Palestinian public opinion and its wishes? Why didn’t they pay attention to the silent Palestinian majority, which is opposed to some forms of the resistance, like the firing of rockets?”

Readers of the Los Angeles Times must ask why Laura King ignored Palestinian public opinion voiced by Palestinian families in Gaza. According to Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post:

Representatives of families from the Gaza Strip have urged the PA to intervene to halt the firing of the rockets, but to no avail. The families have also published statements in Palestinian newspapers calling on the gunmen to stop launching their attacks from populated areas. (“PA columnist tells terrorists: Stop firing rockets at Israel,” Jan. 30, 2003).

Israeli officials themselves actually provided journalists with the evidence which King claims is “difficult to find.” In a March 2 press release, the IDF Spokesman’s office noted that there is

a growing number of publications released by the Palestinians themselves, which call upon terrorist groups to stop launching Kassam rockets and mortars at Israeli communities from within highly populated Palestinian areas in the Gaza Strip. The National Muslim Movement published similar documents on October 21, 2002 and residents of the Gaza Strip have also released a similar request on November 7, 2002.

If King had trouble locating any evidence herself, would it have been too much “difficulty” to lift up the phone and request a copy of the Nov. 7 statement, for example?

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