CBS, NBC Show Plight of Israelis with ‘Siege Mentality’ from Hamas Rockets

One bright spot last week in CBS’s coverage of the war between Israel and the Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas came on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News as correspondent Richard Roth filed a story exploring Israeli life under a "siege mentality." Roth: " Spend a while in earshot of an air raid siren or cramped in a shelter, and it's hard not to have some sympathy. Or, if you want to understand what pushed Israelis past their limit, they'll tell you, just take a look at the numbers. Since the first one almost eight years ago, the army says more than 11,000 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza at southern Israel."

But CBS was only starting to catch up with NBC, which had previously devoted  two full stories to the situation in Sderot, Israel. After the Sunday, January 5, NBC Nightly News showed the first report, which was previously documented by Newsbusters, on Monday, January 5, correspondent Martin Fletcher filed a second piece for the show, as he spent time with a firefighter in Sderot who had been one of the Israeli settlers forced by the Israeli government to leave Gaza in 2005 in an attempt to make peace with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Fletcher noted the failure of Israel’s withdrawal: "Israel gave the land back to the Palestinians, hoping for peace. It didn't happen. The conflict continued. And now rockets are fired from his old home."

On the Wednesday, January 7, CBS Evening News, Katie Couric set up Roth’s report: "Israel maintains it's been under attack for years. Today alone, Hamas militants fired 14 rockets into Israeli towns. As Richard Roth reports, the attacks have created a siege mentality on the Israeli side of the border."

After relaying that "11,000 rocket and mortars" have landed in Israel in the last eight years, Roth recounted the words of an Israeli boy who complained of having to hide in response to sirens. Roth: "They've landed as far as 25 miles beyond the Gaza border, killed 15 civilians and put as many as a million people in range and in fear. ‘You wash your face and brush your teeth,’ a boy named Moishe told Israeli TV, ‘and then the siren sounds.’ He'd no sooner said that when it did."

After a clip of Hirsch Goodman of Tel Aviv University relaying that Israelis believe it is a "just war" that will at least force Hamas to have to rebuild their military, Roth concluded pessimistically: "Victory might be defined here, in other terms, as not much more than buying time."

On the Monday, January 5, NBC Nightly News, Fletcher began his piece by introducing Israeli firefighter Moisha Gephin, and recounted a time Gephin responded to two rockets that landed in a Sderot marketplace. Then came a clip of Gephin proclaiming his fear of the rockets: "It is the scariest feeling in the world., that might be your family."

Fletcher relayed that 5,000 "terrifying" rockets have been fired at Sderot over eight years, and informed viewers that Gephin used to be an Israeli settler in Gaza who was forced to leave. Fletcher: "In Sderot, for the last eight years, 5,000 rockets have hit the town. Crude, but terrifying. And fireman Gephin back at the station can't get away from the war. And for him there's a terrible twist. He lived in Gaza for eight years. He was among the Israeli settlers forced out by their own government three years ago."

As he concluded, Fletcher acknowledged Israel’s failed attempt at peace by withdrawing from Gaza: "But Israel gave the land back to the Palestinians, hoping for peace. It didn't happen. The conflict continued. And now rockets are fired from his old home. Another red alert at the fire station. Ten seconds to get to the bomb shelter. ... They race through the streets of Sderot, searching for the latest rocket, but this time it fell in a field, harmlessly. All's clear till the next alert. Martin Fletcher, NBC News, Sderot, Israel."

A transcript of the story the NBC Nightly News ran on the rocket attacks on Sderot from the Sunday, January 4, show can be found here.

Below are complete transcripts of the relevant stories from the Monday, January 5, NBC Nightly News, and the Wednesday, January 7, CBS Evening News:

#From the Monday, January 5, NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: More than 30 rockets slammed into Israel today from Gaza, and our own Martin Fletcher has been racing through the streets of one town with one member of the team of first responders.

MARTIN FLETCHER: Red alert. Hamas fires two rockets.

 

MOISHA GEPHIN, ISRAELI FIREMAN: We run as quick as we can. Our job is to save lives.

FLETCHER: And what a job it is. Sderot, one mile from Gaza, is under a barrage of attacks. Noon today, one hit in the marketplace. Nobody was hurt. There's where we met Moisha Gephin, a third of the way through his 24-hour shift, a fireman, born in Boston.

GEPHIN: It is the scariest feeling in the world., that might be your family.

FLETCHER: This is the rocket that fell on the marketplace, and these also fell on the same day. In Sderot, for the last eight years, 5,000 rockets have hit the town. Crude, but terrifying. And fireman Gephin back at the station can't get away from the war. And for him there's a terrible twist. He lived in Gaza for eight years. He was among the Israeli settlers forced out by their own government three years ago.

GEPHIN: It was and it still is very painful. At times where I was ready to cry-

FLETCHER: But Israel gave the land back to the Palestinians, hoping for peace. It didn't happen. The conflict continued. And now rockets are fired from his old home. Another red alert at the fire station. Ten seconds to get to the bomb shelter. So this is the alarm. And now we just heard boom. You just heard a boom right? A boom, yeah. Okay, we'll go see what it is. They race through the streets of Sderot, searching for the latest rocket, but this time it fell in a field, harmlessly. All's clear till the next alert. Martin Fletcher, NBC News, Sderot, Israel.

#From the Wednesday, January 7, CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: Israel maintains it's been under attack for years. Today alone, Hamas militants fired 14 rockets into Israeli towns. As Richard Roth reports, the attacks have created a siege mentality on the Israeli side of the border.

RICHARD ROTH: See what a rocket from Gaza can do when it hits, Israelis say. Spend a while in earshot of an air raid siren or cramped in a shelter, and it's hard not to have some sympathy. Or, if you want to understand what pushed Israelis past their limit, they'll tell you, just take a look at the numbers. Since the first one almost eight years ago, the army says, more than 11,000 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza at southern Israel. They've landed as far as 25 miles beyond the Gaza border, killed 15 civilians and put as many as a million people in range and in fear. "You wash your face and brush your teeth," a boy named Moishe told Israeli TV, "and then the siren sounds." He'd no sooner said that when it did. From four to five bus stops to barren streets, rocket attacks have changed the scenery in southern Israel. They've even changed the architecture. Take an ordinary elementary school where the worry's about keeping children safe, and the solution here is put up a giant steel canopy and cover the whole building. Behind the assault on Hamas, Israel says, is a policy summed up in three words.

TZIPI LIVNI, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: Enough is enough. And we cannot tolerate a situation in which Hamas continues to target Israel, Israel's citizens.

ROTH: It's won a rare consensus here.

HIRSCH GOODMAN, TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY INSTITUTE OF NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES: I feel it strongly, the country feels that they're actually winning this war, and they feel it's a just war. It may not stop Hamas rockets forever, but it's going to take them an awful, awful long time to restructure their military wing.

ROTH: Victory might be defined here, in other terms, as not much more than buying time. Richard Roth, CBS News, Sderot, Israel.