Leading off Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams wrung his hands over Israel suffering fewer casualties than Gaza in the ongoing Mideast conflict: "It is a lop-sided fight right now, the estimated death toll is more than a hundred in Gaza, with three Israelis reported dead. The fusillade of rockets from Gaza into Israel is being answered by air strikes, many from drones, many aimed at individuals inside buildings, inside densely packed neighborhoods."
Williams's desire for a fairer fight was reminiscent of former NBC commentator John Chancellor's reaction to the Persian Gulf War in 1992, telling then-Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw: "Greenpeace, the public interest organization, believes that the Iraqi death toll, civilian and military, before and after the war, may be as high as 198,000. Allied military dead are counted in the low hundreds. The disparity is huge and somewhat embarrassing."
On Monday, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel followed Williams by reporting: "Israel has detailed intelligence about Palestinian militants and seems to be ticking off its hit list, but not always with such precision. Palestinians today buried 11 people, including 4 children from the same family."
On Sunday's Nightly News, Engel proclaimed: "Israel says it's using precision strikes against Gaza, but this time, Israeli jets fired at midday in a packed neighborhood....It turned out the Hamas militant Israel was after was inside, and killed. But so was his family and neighbors, including five children and three women. Gazans feel Israel has no regard for so-called 'collateral damage.'"
In addition to Engel's reporting, correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin offered similar condemnation on Sunday's Today:
More than 50 Palestinians killed in the four days of unrelenting Israeli assaults....And now it is being felt by foreign and local journalists working out of this building, that was also broadcasting a Hamas-affiliated news channel....A trail of blood and debris litters the stairwell from where the journalists managed to escape. "This was not a strike on Hamas, but an attempt to silence the media," this worker tells me.
Here is a full transcript of the November 19 Nightly News report:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: While there is an urgent effort in the Middle East under way tonight to forge a cease-fire, it's hard to hear anything but the back and forth explosions on either side of the border between Israel and Gaza. It is a lop-sided fight right now, the estimated death toll is more than a hundred in Gaza, with three Israelis reported dead. The fusillade of rockets from Gaza into Israel is being answered by air strikes, many from drones, many aimed at individuals inside buildings, inside densely packed neighborhoods. This conflict continues to escalate and could still go either way. Tonight, with our team on the ground covering this story, we begin with our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Richard, good evening.
RICHARD ENGEL: Good evening, Brian. Israel is continuing its air strikes in Gaza. In fact, it still smells of smoke here from one not far away a short time ago. A truce could be coming but it seems the two sides are going to fight right up until the moment it's signed.
One of Gaza's tallest buildings on fire. Witnesses say it was just attacked by an Israeli drone. Inside this building are the offices of Hamas's television station, Al-Aqsa, it's the second time in two days it's been targeted by Israel, and this time there are casualties. As fire trucks extinguish the flames, word came a top Palestinian militant was inside. He was killed right where the missile struck. Israel has detailed intelligence about Palestinian militants and seems to be ticking off its hit list, but not always with such precision. Palestinians today buried 11 people, including 4 children from the same family. And this morning, Israel destroyed this apartment building, first firing warning shots, but still, killing three people.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: In two minutes they destroyed all of these houses.
ENGEL: Hamas isn't saying how many of it's militants Israel has assassinated in the last six days, but by our count, it's close to 40. Yet Hamas is still firing rockets into Israel, more than 130 today according to the Israeli military. But are these the lack licks before a cease-fire? Diplomatic efforts are underway in Cairo. Egypt knows without a truce, this conflict could spread across the region.
Both sides have conditions. Hamas leader Khaled Meshal today said in Cairo, "Israel must stop killing its leaders and give Palestinians more freedom to travel and import goods." Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, according to his aides, also wants a negotiated settlement. First, a cease-fire, then more talks. Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath visited Gaza with a message from the Cairo talks.
NABIL SHAATH: Yes, there is a positive, there is serious negotiations. But Israel will have to give up its attempt to cow us and look like it is a surrender.
ENGEL: What are the Israelis asking from the Palestinian side?
SHAATH: Israeli's – they start with a call for surrender, I mean, "You stop, you deliver your weapons and then we'll see what to do."
ENGEL: A truce is in the works, but until that happens, Gaza remains under attack. Richard Engel, NBC News, Gaza.