MEDIA RELEASE: ECAJ lodges official complaint with ABC over Israel/Gaza coverage

The following media release outlines why the ECAJ has lodged an official complaint with the ABC over its recent coverage of events in Israel and the Gaza Strip. To download this media release in PDF format, click here.


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ECAJ lodges official complaint with ABC over Israel/Gaza coverage

16 July, 2018

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the national representative body of the Australian Jewish community, yesterday lodged an official complaint with the national broadcaster, the ABC over its recent coverage of events in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

In particular, the ECAJ has objected to the lead report on ABC TV’s Sunday morning news program on 15 July 2018, which wrongly implied that the latest round of violence in Gaza began with Israel’s “wave of airstrikes”. The report omitted critical facts that were highly relevant to the story and to an understanding of how the outbreak of violence began. Specifically, the report omitted to mention that on June 13 and 14, Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched more than 170 rockets and mortars at civilian population centres within Israel, hitting a home, a children’s playground and a synagogue, and that the Israeli government had announced that the ensuing airstrikes were a response to this barrage of rocket and mortar attacks. These facts had already been publicly reported and were readily available to the ABC.

The ABC report’s mention of “a rocket” which was “believed” to have injured three Israelis was entirely inadequate. It gave the viewer no information at all about the magnitude of the Palestinian rocket and mortar barrage into Israel, or the fact that that barrage had preceded the Israeli airstrikes, or the fact that the announced purpose of the airstrikes was to suppress further Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks against civilians in Israel.

By leaving out critical facts which were relevant to the story, this ABC news report: entirely omitted context; obscured cause and effect; and misled its audience about which side had initiated the outbreak of violence, which was the subject of the story.

The national broadcaster is relied upon by millions of Australians to provide balanced and accurate reporting of pressing events from around the world, including from Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Where the ABC fails to abide by the standards required of it by its Code of Practice, the ECAJ will continue to act to ensure the broadcaster is held to account in the interests of fair and honest reporting. The full text of the complaint can be accessed below.

Contact:
Peter Wertheim AM | Co-CEO
ph: 02 8353 8500 | m: 0408 160 904
e: pwertheim@ecaj.org.au | www.ecaj.org.au

Alex Ryvchin | Co-CEO
ph: 02 8353 8505 | m: 0478 297 245
e: aryvchin@ecaj.org.au | www.ecaj.org.au


Full text of the ECAJ’s official complaint to the ABC

Response Required: Yes
Program: Weekend Breakfast
Program Date: 15/07/2018
ABC Service\Network: ABC Television
ABC Recipient: Audience & Consumer Affairs
Subject: News report on Gaza violence
Your Comments: I refer to the lead report on ABC TV’s Sunday morning news program today (15 July 2018) concerning events in Israel and in the Gaza Strip.

The text of the news report was:

“The Israeli military has launched a wave of airstrikes against dozens of militant targets in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian health officials say at least two people have been killed and twelve injured. Three Israelis are believed to have been injured by a rocket in the city of Sderot. The Israeli military said that its targets included a battalion headquarters and a training facility used by Hamas. The operation is one of Israel’s broadest since the 2014 war.”

This news report wrongly implied that the latest round of violence in Gaza began with Israel’s “wave of airstrikes”. The report omitted critical facts that were highly relevant to the story and to an understanding of how the outbreak of violence began. Specifically, the report omitted to mention that on July 13 and 14, Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched more than 170 rockets and mortars at civilian population centres within Israel, hitting a home, a children’s playground and a synagogue, and that the Israeli government had announced that the ensuing airstrikes were a response to this barrage of rocket and mortar attacks. These facts had already been publicly reported (eg https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-over-174-mortar-shells-rockets-fired-at-israel-on-saturday; https://www.news.com.au/world/middle-east/israel-carries-out-largest-daytime-air-strike-in-gaza-since-2014/news-story/3add81bb57902081f6641254d54304b9) and were readily available to the ABC.

The ABC report’s mention of “a rocket” which was “believed” to have injured three Israelis was entirely inadequate. It gave the viewer no information at all about the magnitude of the Palestinian rocket and mortar barrage into Israel, or the fact that that barrage had preceded the Israeli airstrikes, or the fact that the announced purpose of the airstrikes was to suppress further Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks against civilians in Israel. Some, but not all, of these omitted facts were included in a subsequent version of the news story by the ABC (but not in the headline): http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-15/palestinians-killed-in-airstrike/9994796

Whilst the news report noted that the Israeli military had said that its targets included a training facility used by Hamas, the report did not mention that the Israeli military had stated that the facility was situated over a tunnel that led into a “massive” underground network in Gaza. Nor was there any mention of the wave of kites and inflated condoms rigged with incendiary devices which have been sent into Israel from Gaza in recent weeks which have set fire to hundreds of hectares of crops and to other areas in southern Israel, depriving wildlife of their natural habitat.

Once again we have received complaints about the impartiality, truthfulness and accuracy of the ABC’s news reports concerning Israel. By omitting critical facts which were relevant to the story, this ABC news report obscured cause and effect, and misled its audience about which side had initiated the outbreak of violence which was the subject of the story.