Israel on Monday provoked the outrage of journalists and human rights campaigners alike when its foreign ministry released a short, animated video mocking foreign correspondents reporting from Gaza.
Critics say the video is especially offensive given Israel's history of repressing, harassing, and killing journalists, particularly in last summer's 50-day military assault on Gaza.
In a style reminiscent of South Park, the 49-second video depicts a naive, blond correspondent reporting from Gaza. The video shows the journalist as a bumbling fool, looking the other way as Hamas combatants launch rockets and transport weapons. After running through a scroll of Islamophobic images, the scene closes with the reprimand: "Open your eyes: terror rules Gaza."
The full video can be seen below:
The clip—which is not the first of its kind—was immediately criticized for aiming to deflect criticisms of Israeli war crimes, including the targeting of journalists.
"It's very disturbing and shameful that this video would come out in order to put blame on journalists who work in Gaza, considering Israel killed at least 12 journalists during Operation Protective Edge last summer," Ramah Kudaimi of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation told Common Dreams. "They are making light of the killing of civilians, including journalists, by putting out this video."
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With U.S. political and financial backing, Israel killed at least 2,145 Palestinians in 50 days last summer, the vast majority of which were civilians and at least 578 of them children. This compares to 73 Israelis killed in the conflict, almost all of them soldiers.
Israel's victims included numerous journalists, with the International Middle East Media Center putting the number killed at 17; Reporters Without Borders chronicling 15 media workers' deaths; and the Committee to Protect Journalists documenting at least four reporters—most of them Palestinian—who were slain by Israel.
The Gaza Center for Press Freedom said in its annual report that 2014 was the "worst and bloodiest" year for press freedom. In addition to killing journalists, Israel arrested and detained media workers and destroyed 19 buildings hosting journalism operations, the group noted. Reporters without Borders found that, in 2014, Palestine was the second deadliest country for journalists, just a notch below Syria, due to the Israeli assault on Gaza.
Palestinian journalists have been most heavily impacted by Israel's targeting of media workers.
The Tel Aviv-based Foreign Press Association said it was "surprised and alarmed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry's decision to produce a cartoon mocking the foreign media's coverage of last year's war in Gaza."
The organization continued, "Posting misleading and poorly conceived videos on YouTube is inappropriate, unhelpful and undermines the ministry, which says it respects the foreign press and its freedom to work in Gaza."
The foreign ministry's clip is the latest salvo in Israel's propaganda war aimed at preempting likely human rights criticisms from the United Nations Human Rights Council's probe into last summer's attack. It follows an "internal investigation," released last week, in which Israel exonerated itself for killing four unarmed children on a beach in Gaza last summer, as well as a report released over the weekend in which Israel concludes that latest assault on Gaza was "moral."
The UN probe, which Israel has vigorously opposed and obstructed, is slated for release this week.