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An unfamiliar sight in Gaza - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Israeli forces encircle a residential neighborhood. Entire families including young children, the elderly and the women remain inside their homes, refusing to leave and evacuate their houses. Violent confrontations ensue between the military and civilians. Screaming and kicking make way to a tearful exit.

The scene above is almost a daily occurrence across the Gaza Strip. International and Arab satellite channels have repeatedly shown Palestinian families being forcibly removed from their houses by the Israeli occupiers only for soldiers to destroy them and turn them into rubble.

Where once a proud family lived, all that is left is an old person crying as children gaze into the horizon, confused and traumatized.

Last week, for the first time, the scene in Gaza was markedly different. Families were ordered to leave but these were Israeli settlers not Palestinians.

These new developments paint a fascinating picture of Palestinian life the Arab media has yet to get used to… As the Palestinians regain one of their basic rights, many questions remain unanswered.

Events in Gaza are unfamiliar yet of vital importance; they signal an end to the uni-dimensional portrayal of the Palestinian crisis. For so long, we watched in silence as events unfolded in the Occupied Territories. Repetition made us, at times, almost lose our humanity and concern for the plight of the Palestinians.

No longer is that the case.

The latest events broadcast live from Gaza heralded a new era in the coverage of the second intifada (popular uprising) which had lost some of its horror as the daily carnage in Iraq continues. Our regional satellite television channels need to rise up to the challenges of this new reality.

The Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip made the headlines of a number of news bulletins. It is difficult to misjudge the implications of this disengagement. Things have changed considerably, beyond the usual dialectic between the Israeli oppressors and the Palestinian victims.

Across the Arab world, many are hesitating: How do we cover the situation if not from our well-rehearsed script? With a minor victory on the horizon, how are we to portray the latest events in Gaza?

One journalist mentioned that Israeli soldiers did not treat the settlers as violently as they did the Palestinians, thereby implicitly acknowledging his right to use violence! This is but one example of the confusion we are witnessing.

A comprehensive analysis of the current developments is urgently needed. Animosity still dictates the coverage of Israel in the Arab media. Interviewing Israeli generals and politicians does not suffice to bridge the gap.

Undoubtedly, the Arab media is deficient when it provides its readers and viewers with information on life in Israel. The ongoing policy to boycotting the Jewish State, which is partly to blame, makes understanding the latest withdrawal exceedingly difficult at a time when knowledge is crucial.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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