CBS Paints Israelis as in Denial of Civilian Suffering, Ignores Aid Shipments

On the January 1 CBS Evening News, correspondent Mark Phillips took out of context an Israeli statement that "there is no humanitarian crisis" in Gaza and paired it with images of suffering Palestinian children, as if to blatantly embarrass the Israelis and make it appear that they were in denial of or indifferent to civilians who had been injured. After showing a clip of Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni talking about keeping "pressure on the extremists like Hamas," made during her trip to France, Phillips continued: "But the pressure is not just being felt by Hamas extremists. However well they are aimed, the bombs kill and injure the innocents as well." Pairing a voiceover of himself with heartwrenching clips of Palestinian children who are either injured or who have terrified facial expressions, Phillips concluded: "Israel says there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Mark Phillips, CBS News, Ashdod."

But the Israeli contention that "there is no humanitarian crisis" in Gaza, presumably taken from Livni, was not a statement that was directed at civilian injuries, but instead was referring to the amount of humanitarian aid the Israeli military had allowed into Gaza, as she was rejecting international calls for a truce to deliver more aid, according to a January 2 article in the Washington Post. The article, titled "Senior Hamas Leader Killed; Israelis Stand Ready to Invade Gaza by Land," by Griff Witte, reads: "Speaking in Paris after meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Livni said there is no humanitarian reason for a cease-fire. ‘There is no humanitarian crisis in the strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce,’ she said. ‘Israel has been supplying comprehensive humanitarian aid to the strip.’"

While ABC’s World News did not air on January 1, the same day’s NBC Nightly News did inform its viewers that the Israeli military had "allowed in more than 350 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza since the fighting began," and ran a soundbite of Israeli Army Major Avital Leibovich making a statement similar to the one CBS’s Phillips took out of context:

MARTIN FLETCHER: Inside Gaza, one and a half million people short of everything. But Israel says it's allowed in more than 350 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza since the fighting began, and claims-

MAJOR AVITAL LEIBOVICH, ISRAELI ARMY SPOKESPERSON: There is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. There is enough food, enough medicine.

FLETCHER: But in the hospitals, doctors say it's a disaster. They're out of beds, out of medicines, and cannot cope with the wounded. Martin Fletcher, NBC News, on the Israel/Gaza border.

Fletcher did not mention contentions by the Israeli government that Hamas has blocked the delivery of supplies to civilians in order to deliberately create shortages, as was reported in Witte’s article from the Washington Post: "Israel on Thursday allowed 93 trucks into the strip to deliver supplies. Israel accused Hamas of hoarding critically needed goods in order to create the impression that conditions in Gaza are worse than they actually are. Israel has not allowed foreign journalists into Gaza since its operation began, and the accusation could not be independently verified."

Below are complete transcripts of the relevant stories from the CBS Evening News and the NBC Nightly News from Thursday, January 1, followed by relevant portions of articles from the Washington Post and the New York Times:

#From the January 1 CBS Evening News:

JEFF GLOR: Good evening, and Happy New Year. Katie is off tonight. The situation in Gaza is at a critical point this evening. Israeli leaders face a decision – use ground troops to fight Hamas or bow to international pressure to halt the attacks. Today they increased their air assault, dropping a one-ton bomb on the home of a top Hamas leader and killing him. Hamas, meanwhile, fired at least 30 rockets of its own into Israel. And while Israel indicated it would consider a truce if international monitors were brought in. Mark Phillips reports from the front lines.

MARK PHILLIPS: Now it's getting personal. Having battered Gaza for six days, Israeli bombers have begun to go after Gaza's Hamas leadership. This used to be the house of Nizar Rayan, one of Hamas' main ideologues who, the Israelis say, preached a doctrine of suicide bombing and even sacrificed his own son on a mission that also killed two Israelis. Rayan and several of his wives and children were killed here. Just yesterday Rayan said God had promised Hamas either victory or martyrdom. Today he found out which. An Israeli cabinet member said the targeting was deliberate, as is Hamas' continued targeting of Israel. This rocket landed in the port city of Ashdod, destroying the apartment of taxi drover Yigal Levi, who luckily was out working when it hit. His home is gone, but not his support for the war.

YIGAL LEVI, ASHDOD RESIDENT: A hundred percent. I think you have to stop this thing once and for all.

PHILLIPS: Every Hamas rocket that lands in Israel not only prolongs this campaign, it makes an escalation to the next phase even more probable. The Israeli intent was to stop this sort of thing, not make more of it. While Israeli ground troops sit poised to invade Gaza, if the order comes, Israel's foreign minister was in France, one of the countries pressing for a cease-fire, explaining that Israel is not yet ready for one.

TSIPI LIVNI, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: The only way to see a change in the region is to help the moderates, but simultaneously to attack and to keep the pressure on the extremists like Hamas.

PHILLIPS: But the pressure is not just being felt by Hamas extremists. However well they are aimed, the bombs kill and injure the innocents as well. Israel says there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Mark Phillips, CBS News, Ashdod.

#From the January 1 NBC Nightly News:

LESTER HOLT: Good evening, and Happy New Year. I’m Lester Holt, in tonight for Brian Williams. 2009 begins in the Middle East with Israel raising the stakes in its all-out assault on Gaza, killing a high level Hamas leader during an air attack today. With more than 400 Palestinians now dead and more than 1700 wounded in the six-day operation, Israel says it won't let up until it is no longer threatened by Hamas rockets, rebuffing international calls for a cease-fire. NBC's Martin Fletcher reports tonight from near the Israel/Gaza border.

MARTIN FLETCHER: Israel's assault got personal today with a one-ton bomb. Targeted for assassination, Nizar Rayan, one of Hamas' top five leaders. A massive explosion obliterated his home, and then a second, which Israel says was a weapons store hidden in the basement. Rayan was killed. A legendary religious and military leader, he taught suicide bombers, even sending his own son on a suicide mission. Defiant to the end, yesterday he called out on Hamas TV, "God is greater than Israel, its planes, its rockets." Killed with him, four wives and 11 of his children. Hamas immediately vowed revenge, but Israel says it's targeting more Hamas leaders.

YITZHAK HERZOG, ISRAELI WELFARE MINISTER: We mean business, and our aim is to change the circumstances totally.

FLETCHER: That means stop Hamas firing rockets into Israel. But they fired more than 40 today. One crashed into this eight-story building in Ashdod, only 15 miles from Tel Aviv. Nobody was hurt, but plenty were shocked and want revenge.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No cease-fire! I don't want cease-fire!

FLETCHER: An Israeli shell just fell over there about a mile away inside Gaza. We know today that the Israeli army has recommended a brief, but very strong ground invasion into Gaza. The army's ready, just waiting for the order. While in Paris, a diplomatic offensive. Foreign minister Tsipi Livni explaining why Israel wants to reject a French proposal for humanitarian cease fire.

TSIPI LIVNI, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: At the end of the day, Hamas is a problem not only to Israel, but to entire Palestinian people.

FLETCHER: Inside Gaza, one and a half million people short of everything. But Israel says it's allowed in more than 350 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza since the fighting began, and claims-

MAJOR AVITAL LEIBOVICH, ISRAELI ARMY SPOKESPERSON: There is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. There is enough food, enough medicine.

FLETCHER: But in the hospitals, doctors say it's a disaster. They're out of beds, out of medicines and cannot cope with the wounded. Martin Fletcher, NBC News, on the Israel/Gaza border.

#From the January 2 Washington Post article "Senior Hamas Leader Killed; Israelis Stand Ready to Invade Gaza by Land," by Griff Witte:

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Leibovich said other Hamas leaders were also marked men. "We have defined legitimate targets as any Hamas-affiliated target," she said, adding that Israel is taking precautions to avoid hitting civilians whenever possible.

Also struck Thursday was Gaza's parliament building, as well as smugglers' tunnels and weapons facilities, the Israeli military said.

Hamas has been defiant in the face of Israel's attacks, continuing to fire dozens of unguided rockets each day. Hamas officials have said they will fight on despite their losses.

"We are waiting for you to enter Gaza to kill you or make you into Shalits," the group said in a statement, referring to Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who remains captive in Gaza more than two years after he was seized by fighters affiliated with Hamas in a cross-border raid.

Hamas, which won 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, has been in control of Gaza since it routed forces loyal to the rival Fatah party in June 2007. Since then, Gaza's 1.5 million residents have been living under an Israeli blockade; the vast majority of Gazans have not been allowed to leave, and only the most basic supplies have been allowed in.

Meanwhile, Iranian-backed Hamas and its allies have used the territory as a launching pad for thousands of rockets directed at Israel.

Israel on Thursday allowed 93 trucks into the strip to deliver supplies. Israel accused Hamas of hoarding critically needed goods in order to create the impression that conditions in Gaza are worse than they actually are. Israel has not allowed foreign journalists into Gaza since its operation began, and the accusation could not be independently verified.

The International Committee of the Red Cross reported Thursday that humanitarian needs in Gaza are growing, despite the aid shipments. The organization said electricity, cooking gas and water are all in extremely short supply.

Speaking in Paris after meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Livni said there is no humanitarian reason for a cease-fire.

"There is no humanitarian crisis in the strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce," she said. "Israel has been supplying comprehensive humanitarian aid to the strip."

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#From the January 2 New York Times article "In a Broadening Offensive, an Israeli Strike Kills a Senior Hamas Leader," by Isabel Kershner:

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Mr. Rayyan was known in Gaza as a highly influential figure with strong links to the military wing of Hamas, particularly in northern Gaza, where he lived, and as a popular Hamas preacher who openly extolled and championed the idea of martyrdom.

The Israeli military said in a statement that there were many secondary explosions after the air attack, ''proving that the house was used for storing weaponry.'' It was also used as a communications center, the statement said, and a tunnel that had been dug under the house was used by Hamas operatives.

Most Hamas leaders in Gaza have been in hiding since the Israeli operation began, but Mr. Rayyan was said to have refused to leave his home on ideological grounds. In the past, he had been known to gather supporters to stand on the rooftops of other houses in Gaza that Israel had threatened to strike.

While hundreds of thousands of Gazans have received warnings in the form of telephone messages or fliers that their buildings are Israeli targets, Major Leibovich said she could not give details or specify whether Mr. Rayyan's family had been warned.

Hamas called on Palestinians in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem to mark Friday as a ''day of wrath'' by holding marches after noon prayers, according to Agence France-Presse.

Hamas has so far responded to the Israeli military assault by firing yet more rockets deeper into the country. On Thursday, a rocket fired from Gaza struck an apartment building in the major port city of Ashdod, about 20 miles north of the Palestinian territory, causing extensive damage but no serious injuries.

Earlier on Thursday, Israeli warplanes and naval forces bombed Hamas security installations, militants' houses and tunnels used for smuggling weapons, as well as symbols of the government like the legislative building -- a Gaza landmark -- and the Ministry of Justice, the Israeli military said.

In Gaza City, a large section of the main street around the destroyed legislative building was filled with rubble. Armed Hamas security officers in civilian clothes were out on the streets maintaining control.

Medical officials in Gaza said the number of Palestinians killed in the Israeli bombardment had topped 400. While many of the dead were Hamas security personnel, the United Nations said, a quarter of those killed were civilians. Some Israeli officials have put the number of Palestinian civilians killed at closer to 10 percent.

In France -- which on Thursday handed over the rotating presidency of the European Union to the Czech Republic -- Ms. Livni met with President Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner for ''an exchange of opinions and ideas'' and to share information about Israel's intentions and plans, an Israeli official said.

Ms. Livni, speaking from Paris, again rejected the idea proposed this week by Mr. Kouchner for a 48-hour lull in the fighting for humanitarian purposes.

''There is no humanitarian crisis'' in Gaza, she said, ''and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce.''

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