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Israel-Hamas War
Columns
Opinion articles written in the style of their author. These texts are to be based on verified facts and must be respectful towards people, even though their actions may be criticized. All opinion articles written by individuals from outside the staff of EL PAÍS shall feature, along with the author’s name (regardless of their greater or lesser renown), a footer stating their office, academic title, political affiliation (if any) and main occupation, or the occupation related to the topic being assessed

Israel: Eyes that do not see

An Israeli who only consumes their country’s media will find it hard to gauge the suffering of the Palestinians

A Palestinian woman holds the corpse of a baby at the Najar hospital in Rafah, southern Gaza.
A Palestinian woman holds the corpse of a baby at the Najar hospital in Rafah, southern Gaza.MAHMUD HAMS (AFP)
Ana Fuentes

As the days go by, Israel is finding it harder and harder to justify its rampage in Gaza. Even U.S. President Joe Biden speaks of “indiscriminate” bombardment of the Strip. What is striking is that, although Benjamin Netanyahu is losing international support, he still has carte blanche at home. The polls show that the prime minister is being amortized, but his plans have support. As this newspaper’s correspondent Antonio Pita reports, almost 60% of those surveyed by Tel Aviv University said that the army was not being sufficiently forceful. That poll was held at the end of October, and the mood does not seem to have changed.

Is it possible that Israelis are unaware of all that is going on just a few miles from their homes? Do they cheer their army because they lack the facts? Or do they condone the massacre as a necessary evil? Israel is a democratic country with a free media. It is not China or North Korea. However, there is no need for censorship when there is a powerful narrative that binds the population together and glosses everything over. The problem is not a news blackout, but that the media have closed ranks with the attack on Gaza.

It is striking that Haaretz, a historically progressive newspaper, highlights on its front page the number of Israelis killed, but practically ignores the more than 18,600 Palestinians, many of them children, who have died under the bombardments. This is precisely what Israeli journalist, photographer, and activist Anat Saragusti complained about on the newspaper’s podcast: “The fact that the Israeli public is not seeing images from Gaza means that journalists are not doing their job [...] We are not seeing the atrocities, the rubble, the destruction, and the humanitarian crisis. The world is seeing something completely different.”

An Israeli who only consumes their country’s media will find it hard to gauge the suffering of the Palestinians. For more than two months, they will have seen the faces of compatriots killed or kidnapped by Hamas, but they have not been shown a single Gazan parent standing over the corpse of their child. Empathizing with what one does not see is much more difficult. There is no shortage of details about how the military organizes itself, pursues Hamas leaders, and searches for hostages. Newspapers and television highlight with timers the number of days their country has been at war. Looking at it as a strategic video game, aseptic, is more bearable than thinking about human beings waiting to die.

On social networks, the message is radicalized and the pain is trivialized. Some soldiers reach the height of cruelty by mocking Palestinians under attack. Israeli citizens are in an echo chamber in which their right to defend themselves is gradually being transformed into the right to destroy. @anafuentesf

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