Independent cites ‘EU source’ in baseless claim on Gaza import restrictions

A Sept. 5th story on post-war Gaza reconstruction in The Independent by Natasha Culzak, titled “Israel-Gaza Crisis: Reconstruction of flattened Gaza will cost £5billion, Palestinian officials say“, included the following claim:

Mr Shtayyeh, who is also an economist, said Gaza would be relying on international aid for the reconstruction project, in addition the eradication of Palestinian rivalry and the opening of Israel-Palestine border crossings.

An EU source speaking on condition of anonymity told EurActiv: If you want aid materials to be permitted to enter, they will almost inevitably come from Israeli sources.

I don’t think you’ll find it written down anywhere in official policy, but when you get to negotiate with the Israelis, this is what happens. It increases construction and transaction costs, and is a political problem that has to be dealt with.

Of course, the most likely explanation for why this “anonymous EU source” couldn’t find this Israeli-only goods rule “written down anywhere in official policy” is that it seems to be a fabrication.

Interestingly, the Indy reporter failed to note that the very article at EurActive she linked to included the following flat-out denial by Mark Regev  

Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli prime ministers’ office, denied claims that Israel’s entry policy to Gaza prevented non-Israeli-made reconstruction materials from entering the Strip.

“I know that policy, and it is not true,” he told EurActiv over the phone from Jerusalem.

Additionally, CiF Watch contacted COGAT, which coordinates the entry of aid into Gaza, to ask them about the claim, and we received this response:

Regarding the claim that Israel is actively trying to dissuade and interfere international donors from purchasing and bringing non-Israeli building materials to the Gaza Strip, we reiterate that it is Israeli policy to allow any nation or organization to bring in any building materials they wish as long as they do not violate the dual-use restrictions that are in place. The source of the building materials is not of concern to the Israeli government – only that they cannot be used for non-civilian use and that they follow proper tax procedures.

It’s the job of reporters to attempt to corroborate unsubstantiated claims made by anonymous sources, and to note official responses which contradict such claims – fundamental principles of professional journalism that the Indy’s Natasha Culzak failed to uphold.

7 replies »

  1. I guess hundreds of millions of dollars were never really spent on an infrastructure of tunnels infiltrating Israeli territory or hundreds of missiles shot all day long aimed at Israeli citizens and schoolyards. Natasha says that it was just a really bad dream….

    Thanks, Natasha, for being, y’know, a super duper pooper scooper journalist.

  2. Natasha is EXACTLY the kind of amoral journalism that Matti Friedman wrote so eloquently about recently. How did she get the job?

  3. And who is the journalist at EurActiv who has written the story linked to? Arthur Neslen.

    This is Arthur Neslen;
    “Arthur Neslen is a British-born journalist and author of two books about identity in the “Middle East. Occupied Minds: A Journey Through the Israeli Psyche” was published by Pluto Press in 2006 and “In Your Eyes A Sandstorm: Ways of Being Palestinian” was published by University of California Press in October, 2011. He is also the author of the booklet “Gaza: Dignity Under Siege” which was published by CIDSE (International Co-operation for Development and Solidarity) in 2009. All three are collections of interviews and photographs.

    Neslen began his career at the City Limits magazine and worked as the international editor of for Red Pepper and as a broadcast journalist for the BBC. He has written about the Middle East for The Guardian,[4] The Observer, Haaretz, Jane’s Information Group and as a correspondent for the websites of The Economist and al-Jazeera (where he was the only Jewish staff member).”

    The term ‘Fruit from the poisoned tree’, springs to mind.

  4. In the light of such dead end journalism, perhaps Natasha Culzak should be called Natasha Cul-de-Sac. Then she’d have something in common with Fibby Greenwood.

  5. “It’s the job of reporters to attempt to corroborate unsubstantiated claims made by anonymous sources, and to note official responses which contradict such claims ”

    Ah, but that would make it so much harder to sew confusion and to sell the desired “narrative.”