Two days after the military campaign began, the Israeli financial newspaper Globes published a highly critical summary of the domestic news coverage. It described in stark terms the dead civilians, destroyed infrastructure and harsh living conditions in Gaza, pointing out that none of these images are shown on Israeli television. Instead, Israelis see “military correspondents standing against a background of smoke pillars on a distant horizon, and reporters standing on deserted streets in the southern cities.” The article’s conclusion was withering: “The Israeli media is acting as a de facto army spokesman.” As the Gaza campaign nears the two-week mark, this pattern has held true.
Israelis pride themselves on being the only democracy in the Middle East. Yet they have willingly suspended democratic principles, such as the rule of law — in the case of the Supreme Court ruling on admitting foreign reporters to Gaza — and freedom of the press. Given the limited, controlled coverage of the army’s operation in Gaza, Israelis simply do not have sufficient first-hand information, in their own language, about what is really happening there. How, then, can they judge the moral stakes of this war?