Reuters’ Rough Reporting on Gaza Aid, Philadelphi Route, ‘Palestine’ Statehood

To the very bitter end of a difficult 2023, one of Israel’s most troubled years, Reuters’ coverage continued to hit some rough reporting.

First, yesterday’s story, “Israel seeks full control of Gaza-Egypt border, Netanyahu says,” bizarrely reports that Israeli control of the very narrow Gaza-Egypt border area known as the “Philadelphi corridor” or “Philadelphi route” would mean exclusive Israeli control over the Gaza Strip in its entirety. Reuters reported: 

Speaking at a press conference, Netanyahu said: “The Philadelphi Corridor – or to put it more correctly, the southern closing point (of Gaza) – must be in our hands. It must be shut. It is clear that any other arrangement would not ensure the demilitarisation that we seek.”

 He did not elaborate. If accomplished, such a move would mark a de facto reversal of Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, placing the enclave under exclusive Israeli control after years being run by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. [Emphasis added.]

“The enclave” refers to the Gaza Strip at large, as clear from the two other usages of the term in the very same article. (Elsewhere, the article refers to “The little aid reaching the enclave since the start of the war” and also reports “Israel has only allowed access to the south of the enclave, where it started ordering all Gaza civilians to move from October … “) How would Israeli control over the Gaza Strip’s 14-kilometer border with Egypt dictate control of all that goes on within the territory itself, spelling “exclusive Israeli control”?

 Second, the same article wrongly reports that aid to the Gaza Strip has only come in through Egypt, erring:

The little aid reaching the enclave since the start of the war, when Israel imposed a near total blockade on all food, medicine and fuel, has come across the border with Egypt.

But aid has also reached the Gaza Strip directly through Israel. As Reuters itself had previously reported, the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza began operating again Dec. 17 for the first time since Hamas started the war on Oct. 7 (“Aid enters Gaza through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing for the first time in the war“). 

Screenshot from OCHA’s Dec. 29, 2023 report

The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported Dec. 29:

Due to significant security incidents in the vicinity of the Kerem Shalom crossing since its initial opening on 17 December, humanitarian aid through the crossing was suspended between 25 and 28 December. Incidents included a drone strike on 25 December which killed four people, the seizing of aid from food convoys by members of desperate local communities, and unannounced and uncoordinated prisoner and casualty transfers from Israel which rendered the crossing unusable for hours at a time. Dispatch of aid through the crossing has now resumed. In total 81 trucks carrying food and medicine entered Gaza on 29 December through Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings. 

According to Israeli authorities, it was the UN which requested the closure of Kerem Shalom for three days last week. (According to Israel’s COGAT, 76 aid trucks passed through Kerem Shalom crossing Dec. 25, travelling from Israel to Gaza.)

Graphic from COGAT

Moreover, on the very day that Reuters reported that aid was reaching Gaza only through Egypt, nearly as many trucks entered the coastal territory via Israel as Egypt. Thus, Israel’s COGAT, which is responsible for the transfer of aid to Gaza, reported that yesterday 80 trucks entered through Kerem Shalom, and 90 were inspected at the Israeli Nitzana crossing for transfer to the Egyptian Rafah crossing.

Third, a separate article (“South Africa files genocide case against Israel at World Court“), errs on the terminology and status of the Palestinian territories, inaccurately stating:

Palestine, whose statehood is contested but is seen by the court as having “observer state” status, said it welcomed South Africa’s suit.

References to modern “Palestine” in the West Bank and Gaza are inaccurate and are not consistent with Reuters’ own style, and Reuters has commendably corrected this terminology in the past, including in Arabic.

In addition, it’s misleading to state that Palestinian “statehood is contested,” when in fact it has yet to be actualized. (Emphasis added.)

See also “NPR Complicit in UNRWA Undereporting of Aid Trucks

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