On Friday night, the major broadcast networks all covered the latest developments in the conflict between the Israelis and Hamas as a three-day cease-fire collapsed after an Israeli solider was captured during an ambush while the two sides fought in an underground tunnel. In their coverage, the networks used some harsh language in describing the Israeli offensive to seek out those responsible and two networks touted Palestinians praising the capture.
Anchor Diane Sawyer said on ABC World News described Israel’s actions after “one of their soldiers was apparently captured by Hamas” as “[a] pounding response.” In a report from ABC News chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran, he noted how, at the start of the cease fire, there “was quiet in Gaza” as “[y]ou could hear the birds chirp” before noting that, not long after, “it was on again.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]
Towards the end of his 2-minute-and-6-seconds report, Moran gave air time to a Palestinian teenager staying at a United Nations (U.N.) shelter who told him that: “I think this is a right for Palestinians to defend themselves.”
Over on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen reported from Gaza that “Israel launched a furious attack on the southern city of Rafah” as word was that “it was to block Hamas from moving the missing soldier deeper into the Gaza Strip.”
In the same manner that Mordan did, Petersen included a sound bite from a Palestinian praising the actions of Hamas. He said that:
Here in Gaza, the news that an Israeli soldier was taken prisoner spread fast. "It proves our fighters are strong," Um Ulah told us. "I wish them well." The abduction of an Israeli soldier could mean that the worst of the fighting is still ahead.
In reporting from Tel Aviv, CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata speculated that the capture of the Israel solider, who was identified as Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, may be another galvanizing force for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is very popular in Israel (along with the current war effort). D’Agata wondered if the capture of Goldin “may prove to be a unifying force to give Netanyahu a freer hand to attack Hamas.”
Finally, NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel told viewers on NBC Nightly News that those in Gaza know that “Israel will respond heavily to search for its missing soldier” as it has “become far more personal” for Israel and “even more dangerous” for Gazans. At the conclusion of his report, Engel promoting the latest Hamas talking point and questionable statement with this time concerning Goldin’s status. Engel reported that: “And just moments ago, Hamas's military wing said it does not have a live Israeli captive and all of its fighters involved in the attack were killed by Israeli fire.”
The full transcript from the segment from ABC World News with Diane Sawyer on August 1 is transcribed below.
ABC World News with Diane Sawyer
August 1, 2014
6:39 p.m. Eastern
DIANE SAWYER: And back overseas now, a day that began with a 72-hour truce in the Middle East, saw that truce shatter in less than 90 minutes after it began. A pounding response from the Israel military as one of their soldiers was apparently captured by Hamas. ABC’s chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran is in Gaza for us tonight.
TERRY MORAN: This morning, when the cease-fire took hold, there was quiet in Gaza. You could hear the birds chirp and so the people of this battered land emerged from hiding to return home to what was left of their homes. Then, it was on again. Each side accusing the other of violating the cease-fire. It happened at one of those Hamas tunnels Israel has vowed to destroy. Israeli officials saying an army unit had been ambushed as they were clearing a tunnel after the cease-fire commenced. Two soldiers killed, and one, apparently, captured. The nightmare scenario for Israel. The missing soldier, 23-year-old lieutenant Hadar Goldin, engaged to be married, his twin brother in the army too and his father confident. “We are certain the army will not stop,” he said and will bring Hadar back home, safe and sound.
MORAN: President Obama today demanding Lieutenant Goldin's return.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: That soldier needs to be unconditionally released as soon as possible.
MORAN: We saw firsthand this week how wary Israeli forces are of these tunnels. Guns drawn, pointed down the shaft, ready for anything. But you won't go in?
UNIDENTIFIED ISRAELI SOLDIER: No.
MORAN: Assumption, booby trapped.
SOLDIER: The assumption that is booby trapped and there’s maybe terrorists inside.
MORAN: But today, at a U.N. shelter here in Gaza, Palestinians told us the capture of an Israeli is a triumph.
UNIDENTIFIED PALESTINIAN MALE TEENAGER: I think this is a right for Palestinians to defend themselves.
MORAN: Now, with Israeli forces pressing hard, looking for their comrade, the war is intensifying with no end in sight. Terry Moran, ABC News, Gaza.
The transcript from the segment on CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on August 1 is transcribed below.
CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
August 1, 2014
6:35 p.m. Eastern
JAMES BROWN: Today, the war in Gaza barely skipped a beat. A cease-fire that was supposed to last 72 hours collapsed in less than two. More than 1,600 Palestinians have been killed in 25 days of fighting; 66 Israelis, and it may get worse. An Israeli soldier went missing today and is presumed to have been captured by Hamas fighters. We have a team of correspondents covering the war. First, Barry Petersen in Gaza.
BARRY PETERSEN: Israel launched a furious attack on the southern city of Rafah. One Israeli military expert speculated it was to block Hamas from moving the missing soldier deeper into the Gaza Strip. Israel said that Hamas fighters emerged from a tunnel. One was a suicide bomber who blew himself up. In the fighting that followed, the Israelis realized a soldier was missing. The Israelis believe that Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin was dragged down a tunnel. Both sides blame other for breaching the cease-fire. What it meant was the grim ballet of war barely missed a beat, the wounded flooding the hospitals, the dead following the morgues. An Israeli soldier is a huge prize of war, valuable for making a deal. In 2011, one Israeli, Gilad Shalit, was traded for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Shalit had been held captive by Hamas for five years. Today, there are more than 5,000 Palestinians in prison, mostly arrested for anti-Israeli activities. Since this war began, Hamas fighters have stalked Israeli soldiers. Here in Gaza, the news that an Israeli soldier was taken prisoner spread fast. "It proves our fighters are strong," Um Ulah told us. "I wish them well." The abduction of an Israeli soldier could mean that the worst of the fighting is still ahead. The Israelis have warned people in Rafah and surrounding neighborhoods not to leave their houses tonight and told them not to take their cars out on the street tomorrow. Clearly, James, a massive search is under way.
BROWN: Barry Petersen in Gaza City. Thank you, Barry. Charlie D'Agata is in Tel Aviv. Charlie, what's been the reaction in Israel?
CHARLIE D’AGATA: Well, James, Israeli leaders have been holding an emergency meeting most of the night to try to consider their next step forward. An Israeli defense spokesperson told us the priority will be to find that missing soldier, that a kidnapped soldier is among the biggest fears for Israeli parents. There's already huge support for this war here, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's popularity, his personal popularity, is also very high. This missing soldier may prove to be a unifying force to give Netanyahu a freer hand to attack Hamas.
BROWN: Charlie D'Agata from Tel Aviv tonight. Thank you, Charlie.
The complete transcript from the segment on the August 1 edition of NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams can be found below.
NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams
August 1, 2014
7:06 p.m. Eastern
BRIAN WILLIAMS: More news from overseas tonight. This was supposed to be a hopeful day in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, but almost immediately after what was planned as a three-day cease-fire started this morning, things took a bad turn with a new wave of violence, then the apparent capture of an Israeli military officer. Our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is in Gaza once again for us tonight.
RICHARD ENGEL: Good evening, Brian. Israeli troops this morning were on a mission to destroy Hamas' tunnels when suddenly, militants used one of those tunnels to launch a surprise attack, killing two Israeli soldiers and, Israel says, capturing a third. Israel's big guns firing artillery barrages into southern Gaza, keeping militants at bay as Israeli troops search for one of their own. Israel now has a missing soldier in hostile territory.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL PETER LERNER: We were 90 minutes into the cease-fire, minding our own business, defending our own positions when a terrorist came out with a suicide belt, blew himself up, killed two. Another one – another gunman came out shooting and then abducted one of our officers.
ENGEL: Israel identified him as 23-year-old second lieutenant Hadar Goldin. It's unclear if he's alive, dead or wounded. His father told reporters today: “We are certain the Israel defense force will not stop until they have turned every stone and brought Hadar home.” For a small country with mandatory military service, a soldier's capture is a nightmare. Israel has been down this road before. NBC's Martin Fletcher.
MARTIN FLETCHER: This is the beginning of a national trauma for Israel, which in the past has paid almost any price to get captured soldiers home again. The last soldier captured by Hamas was kept for five years and Israel swapped more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to get him home again.
ENGEL: In Gaza City, the day began with hope. With the U.S. and U.N. brokered cease-fire in place, Gazans rushed out to fish, even play on the beach, but it didn't last. Gaza City is now cleared out, most people trying to stay inside. Everyone here knows Israel will respond heavily to search for its missing soldier. For Israel, this has now become far more personal and for Gazans, even more dangerous. Instead of a cease-fire today, escalation and Israelis and Palestinians both fear what might happen next. And just moments ago, Hamas's military wing said it does not have a live Israeli captive and all of its fighters involved in the attack were killed by Israeli fire. Brian.
WILLIAMS: Richard Engel in Gaza City again tonight with those drones audible in the background. Richard, thanks. Also tonight, this imagery from Gaza. It's digital photography. It was taken earlier in this conflict, but you don't often get to see this. It shows an incoming Israeli air strike, a freeze-frame showing it in midair, headed for its target, right before impact.