The Washington Post Cages Context on Gaza’s Zoo

The Washington Post’s story about the closure of a zoo in Gaza (“The last tiger leaves the ‘worst’ zoo,” Aug. 26, 2016) by Jerusalem Bureau Chief William Booth, omitted important context about the threats facing Israel and the wars waged against it by Hamas, the U.S.-designated terror group that rules the strip. Despite a length of 1041-words, the article—a lead print story in The Post’s World section—failed to inform readers that Hamas, and not Israel, is ultimately responsible for the conditions at the zoo and in Gaza.

The Post noted that animals from the Khan Younis zoo in the Gaza Strip were being moved to animal sanctuaries elsewhere due to the conditions at that facility. Booth detailed the various animals being moved, as well as their plight and that of zoo officials.

However, The Post article then said, “As the animals were being subdued and put into their crates, the local Palestinians at the zoo joked that they would be happy to trade places to get out of Gaza, which suffers from a partial trade and travel blockade, enforced by Israel and Egypt.”

Although Booth was correct to note that both Israel and Egypt are maintaining a partial trade and travel blockade of the Gaza Strip, he failed to fully inform readers as to the reason why: Hamas.
Blockading the facts

As CAMERA has pointed out, Hamas’ charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the genocide of the Jewish people. Hamas works to achieve this aim via, among other methods, the construction of so-called “terror tunnels” to kidnap and murder Israelis, antisemitic indoctrination of Gazan youth at “summer camps” where they are taught the values of martyrdom and terrorist tactics in violation of international laws, and the double war-crime of indiscriminately launching rockets at Israeli population centers from behind the cover of human shields. Many of these activities are financed through the misuse of international aid money and assisted by smuggling.

Hamas also has cooperated with terrorist groups that seek to overthrow the current Egyptian government led by president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (see, for example “Hamas Cooperates with ISIS-Sinai,” CAMERA, March 3, 2016). Additionally, Hamas is a spawn of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group which advocates for the worldwide installment of sharia (Islamic) law and which has threatened el-Sisi and many of his predecessors.

Yet, none of this context is noted by The Post, which instead stated, “There is no airport, no seaport and only limited access to the outside world. Israel mostly allows only traders, the sick and elderly to enter Israel—on limited permits.” Instead, the paper—at best—only hints at Hamas’ aims by briefly stating that “Grad rockets from Iran” are smuggled through the tunnels of Rafah along with cars, food and animals. To whom and for what purpose are not spelled out for readers.

Similarly, the article said that a pair of tiger cubs “survived wars in 2008 and 2012 between Israel and Hamas….In the aftermath of the third and costly war, in the summer of 2014, the female tiger died—along with more than 2,1000 Palestinians and 72 Israelis.” However, The Post omitted that all three of these conflicts were initiated by Hamas. In its response to Hamas during the 2014 war, Israel “went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties,” according to the then-U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey (“Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey undermines Obama administration criticism of Israeli actions in Gaza,” The Washington Post, Nov. 10, 2014).
Who holds Gaza captive?

In lieu of detailing Hamas’ objectives and repeated attacks against Israel—including an unmentioned rocket attack launched from Gaza just four days before The Post report was published—the paper attempted to strike a note of false equivalency between the Jewish state and Hamas. The article noted that zoo animals who died during the 2014 war were later mummified and displayed for financial reasons and to “show Palestinians what the Gaza wars and Israeli siege had wrought.” The animals had perished due to the zoo owner’s inability to reach the facility “because of the shelling and airstrikes from Israel, and rocket and mortar attacks by Hamas.” Yet, it was the latter’s attack which occasioned the former’s response.

The Washington Post was not the only news media outlet to omit essential information in its reporting on the Khan Younis zoo. As CAMERA affiliate BBC Watch pointed out, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has frequently run stories on the subject, including a filmed report two days before The Post’s article (“BBC News reframes and politicises an animal welfare story,” Aug. 25, 2016).

At the article’s conclusion, The Post quoted a “local commentator” named Akram Radi who said, “Hey, they treated the animals and freed them from the zoo? Now who is going to free the humans from the world’s biggest zoo, Gaza?” Yet, the group responsible for both the conditions at the zoo as well as in Gaza writ large, whose routine human-rights violations are seldom the focus of Western media coverage, went largely unmentioned in The Post’s lengthy feature piece.

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