B’Tselem to petition High Court against 'censorship' of Gaza dead

IBA says ad with names of 150 Gaza children killed during operation provides Israeli public with false information.

July 25, 2014 05:33
2 minute read.
gaza hospital

A Palestinian girl who fled shelling that hit a UN-run school sits in shock at a hospital in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The High Court of Justice should force Israel Radio to run an advertisement with the names of 150 Gaza children killed during the last 16 days of Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli NGO B’Tselem said on Thursday.

B’Tselem plans to petition the High Court on Sunday to overturn the Broadcasting Authority’s (IBA’s) decision and that of its appeals board, which also rejected its ad, titled “The children of Gaza have a name.”

B’Tselem posted a short version of the ad – in which the names and ages are read out one by one – on its Facebook page, where, according to the NGO, it was shared 900 times and viewed by 300,000 people.

IBA’s rejection of the ad was unacceptable censorship, B’Tselem said.

IBA, however, in a letter to B’Tselem, said the issue was politics, not censorship. While the ad was simple, it provided the Israeli public with false information, IBA said.

Publication of the ad, IBA said, would allow any group with money to circumvent the news through an ad that sounded like it was giving information when it fact it was promoting a political agenda.

The subject of the ad alone “could strengthen the Palestinian claim that Israel is responsible for their deaths, precisely at a time when Israel has claimed that Hamas is responsible for civilian deaths [in Gaza] because it placed weapons and missiles amidst a civilian population,” IBA said in the letter.

It is also problematic to focus solely on the Gaza dead without mentioning those harmed in Israel, IBA said.

Publication of the ad during a war with Israel’s enemies would also be politically and ideologically divisive, it said in the letter.

B’Tselem, in turn, charged that Israel Radio was taking a political stand and silencing public debate with regard to the price the Gaza war was taking on civilians.

“The newscasts in Israel, which – so you yourself claim – should broadcast the names of the Palestinian dead, are not doing so,” B’Tselem executive director Hagai El-Ad said.

“To bring these facts to the public’s attention, we had to resort to buying radio spots ourselves. Yet our request was denied based on the hypothetical claim that the newscasts should broadcast the names.

The result of this circular reasoning is that a human issue of utmost, urgent public importance has been effectively silenced and erased from the public sphere, both in newscasts and in radio advertising.”

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