Mideast media: No one escapes blame for Gaza

by Yaniv Berman and Rachelle Kliger, The Media Line Ltd.

Eight days after Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured in Gaza, Israel’s Channel 1, clearly tired of the mundane coverage of the events, resorted to reversing its cameras.

Reporters, it showed, are pitching their tents outside the Shalit household in Mitzpeh Hila, hoping to capture the moment when the family receives concrete news of Gilad’s fate.

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The events have also grabbed the headlines in the Middle East, pushing other crucial events to the inner pages. A brief view of the opinions of the Middle East press shows that everyone is in the crosshairs.

While the Arab press, and especially the Palestinian media, is focused on the plight of the Palestinians following Israel’s attacks on Gaza, the Israeli newspapers appear to be more centered on the fate of the kidnapped soldier, and the conduct of the fledgling government, led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in its first major security crisis.

Reinvading Gaza and other Palestinian cities will bear no fruit, said an editorial in the Jordanian daily A-Dustour, and the arrests of a senior cabinet minister and members of parliament by Israel is foolish.

“The problem is not the kidnapped soldier. It’s the hidden desire to regain control over Palestinian lands and bring down the Hamas government,” the editor writes. “The Palestinians want to say that if the Jewish extremists are destroying the peace process, encouraging [the army] to kill us and attack us, then we will present them with the corresponding extreme.”

The Palestinian press generally puts the blame on Israel for the deteriorating security situation on both sides.

Israel’s conduct in this crisis is dangerous, and it is endangering the abducted soldier, Hafiz Barghouthi, the editor of the Palestinian daily Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida writes. He believes Israel had previous plans to attack Gaza, and the abduction of the Israeli soldier gave Israel an appropriate opportunity to act. In fact, he says, Israel does not want to solve the crisis. If that were the case, the crisis would be over.

“I believe that even if the soldier were released today, the crisis would continue under different pretexts,” Barghouthi concludes.