A new cartoon released by the Foreign Ministry pokes fun at foreign correspondents in Gaza who are supposedly oblivious to the rocket fire and Hamas military infrastructure surrounding them. The clip drew a harsh condemnation from the Foreign Press Association in Israel.
A two-dimensional, “South Park”-style animation, the 50-second clip shows a news anchor speaking about the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip in the wake of last summer’s war, while, behind him, Hamas gunmen can be seen carrying rockets and guns.
At the end of the clip, the journalist is given a pair of glasses. The woman who hands them to him says, “Here, maybe now you’ll be able to see the reality of life under Hamas rule.” Then, having taken in the true state of affairs in Gaza, the reporter appears to drop dead of a heart attack.
The Foreign Press Association in Israel said that it was “surprised and alarmed” by the clip “mocking the foreign media’s coverage of last year’s war in Gaza.
“At a time when Israel has serious issues to deal with in Iran and Syria, it is disconcerting that the ministry would spend its time producing a 50-second video that attempts to ridicule journalists reporting on a conflict in which 2,100 Palestinians and 72 Israelis were killed,” the FPA said in a statement Monday.
“Israel’s diplomatic corps wants to be taken seriously in the world. Posting misleading and poorly conceived videos on YouTube is inappropriate, unhelpful and undermines the ministry, which says it respects the foreign press and its freedom to work in Gaza,” the statement said.
But the Foreign Ministry said the cartoon should be taken as a lighthearted jab.
“The film mocks many journalists with a gentle wink, too many of whom are blind to what is happening around them,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told reporter Noga Tarnopolsky.
“There is shortage of these, who do not see or do not want to see reasons of fear or other reasons… Quite a few journalists who were in Gaza did not report the rocket fire in residential areas in proximity of public buildings. Only after the operation and after leaving Gaza were these materials released and was real information about what they saw revealed.
“Thus, these journalists admitted they did not report what they saw. What is the reason for this? Fear of Hamas? A lack of willingness to tell the truth?” he added, according to Tarnopolsky, who quoted the statement in a series of tweets Monday evening.
The clip followed hot on the heels of a more serious effort — an almost 300-page report on the war — released Sunday ahead of the report by the special UN Human Rights Council commission established at the end of the summer conflict. The UN Gaza report is set to be released in the coming days.
Israel refused to cooperate with the commission, on the grounds that its head, William Schabas, was biased against Israel, and has in the past worked as a legal adviser to the PLO. Even after Schabas’s resignation in February, Jerusalem refused to cooperate with the UN commission of inquiry, calling it a “kangaroo court.”
Marissa Newman contributed to this report.