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April 04, 2008

NY Times Headline Mars Article on WHO Report

In 2007, Israel granted entry permits into Israel for over 7000 critically ill patients from Gaza, a 43% increase over the previous year. Despite Israel's efforts to alleviate the suffering of its enemies, the director of the UN's World Health Organization office for the West Bank and Gaza portrayed Israel's efforts as inhumane, insufficient and too slow.


The New York Times coverage of the new WHO report noted that Israeli officials said WHO investigators had never asked Israel about the Palestinian accusations before the report was written and that Israel denied the allegations. Israeli Col. Nir Press, the liaison officer for Gaza crossings, was allowed to give a detailed refutation. While the April 3rd article ( "Israel Slow to Admit Gaza Patients, U.N. Says," ) was balanced, it was marred by the headline and pull-quote ("Delays have caused 32 Palestinians to die, a report contends"). Both were from WHO's perspective, appearing to favor WHO's allegations over Israel's refutation. Israel's refutation should have been at least a subheadline or pull-quote.

While this was a story centered around the release of the WHO report, readers would have a better understanding of the complex issues involved if the focus had been expanded to include more context, such as:

Israel allows thousands of Gazans to enter Israel every year to receive medical care, despite the fact that:

* Wafa Al-Biss, a burn patient from Gaza who had been treated several times in an Israeli hospital, was caught at the Erez Crossing security checkpoint with explosives and admitted that her goal that day was to go once again to Soroka Hospital, but this time to blow up the very doctors and nurses who had cared for her in the past. She also asserted that she wanted to kill as many children as possible.

* Fatma Zak, a nine-month pregnant mother of eight from Gaza, along with her niece, a mother of four, obtained a permit to enter Israel for medical treatment in order to carry out two terrorist attacks. After being arrested at the Erez Crossing security checkpoint on May 20, 2007, the two women confessed to the plot and said they had used Israel's humanitarian policy to acquire entrance permits on a false medical pretext.

* Terrorists from Gaza launch daily rocket attacks against Israeli communities, particularly Sderot, killing, maiming, and traumatizing Israeli civilians and severely damaging the town's economy

* a Palestinian poll shows that 91% of Gazans support the Arab terror attack on March 6 that killed 8 yeshiva students in Jerusalem and 65% of Gazans support the daily indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza into Israeli towns

* Gaza's Hamas government has stated repeatedly that its goal is to destroy Israel

Letters-to-the-editor can be sent to letters@nytimes.com

Posted by LG at April 4, 2008 03:23 PM

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