I wonder if any readers have an answer to this question: Has anybody, throughout this whole conflict around Gaza, heard any reporter inside Gaza, at any time, preface or conclude their remarks with ‘reporting from Gaza, under Hamas government reporting restrictions’? I don’t watch television news all the time and so may have missed it, but I don’t think I have heard this said even once.
Which is strange. When reporting from a dictatorship like Gaza it used to be the norm that reporters would preface or conclude any report with some variant of this formula. Doing so was a neat way to send the warning to viewers that you were reporting from a place where the authorities were censoring what you could say.
Before the 2003 war in Iraq, for instance, reporters broadcasting for television or radio from inside Iraq nearly always made reference to the fact that they were reporting under restrictions imposed on them by Saddam Hussein’s government. This often meant a Hussein goon was standing nearby checking that nothing untoward was said.
In the same way, Hamas takes great care to ensure that the ‘wrong’ message does not come out. Indeed they recently expelled a reporter from the Putin propaganda channel Russia Today because he mentioned that Hamas were launching rockets from Gaza.
Yet I can think of no example during this conflict when reporters for any major broadcaster have told the truth – which is that if they stay in Gaza they are only able to tell Hamas’s account of this conflict (complete with ‘deliberate’ Israeli targetting and only ever ‘innocent’, never ‘guilty’ victims). There will be those who think this a small technical point. But I suspect this is one major reason why some surprising Western observers seem to have become so rancidly pro-Hamas during this conflict.