Analysis: A tale of two Tel Aviv bombings

Separated by 7 weeks and 1 city block, 2 bombings in TA met with radically different media coverage.

TA bus bomb 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
TA bus bomb 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
Separated by seven weeks and a single city block, two bombings in Tel Aviv met with radically different media coverage befitting the different circumstances.
The news flash that emerged midday on Thursday seemed like a mistake, a flash of déjà vu emerging from the non-stop coverage of the worst storm in years.
A bomb had exploded in a car in central Tel Aviv, just outside the Kirya defense headquarters, virtually the same exact announcement that spread like wildfire midday on November 21, when a bomb exploded on a bus near the Kirya on the last day of Operation Pillar of Defense.
Moments after Thursday’s attack, sirens could be heard, and minutes later it emerged that the explosion was most likely criminal, a car bombing meant to take the life of an Israeli mobster.
All similarities to the first terror attack in Tel Aviv since 2006 quickly began to disappear.
On November 21, the corner of Shaul Hamelech and Henrietta Szold streets hosted dozens of teams from the international press and all Israeli news outlets, as talk of a cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza appeared to detonate into thin air. The scene at Ichilov Hospital, where most of the 28 people wounded in the bombing were taken, was borderline mayhem, with reporters cramming the intake lobby of the emergency room, interviewing doctors and waiting for a chance to speak to survivors.
Only a few Israeli reporters made their way to Ichilov on Thursday, where a single victim gave a quick statement after checking himself out of the hospital.
By then the corner of Menachem Begin and Shaul Hamelech streets had been cleared, and news of the bombing was given the proper proportion as a local, crime-related story, another in a long line of underworld hits.
One Israeli cameraman at the scene laughed at the relatively large number of Israeli media personnel present, saying that if the bombing had been in Haifa or in Petah Tikva like two bombings in the past few weeks, it would have received scant coverage.
In both bombings, no one, innocent or otherwise, was killed, though both took place at midday at one of the most packed spots in central Tel Aviv.
Both a remote-detonated bus bomb planted by a Palestinian terror cell and a bomb affixed to a mobster’s car by an assassin on a motorcycle can easily take the lives of innocent Israeli civilians, as experience has proved time and time again.
However, when the bombing happens outside the framework of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the collateral damage born by innocent civilians is a local story at best.
There is no reason to expect the death or injury of Israelis in a local act of crime to get anywhere near the same coverage as ones killed in Palestinian terror attacks. Nonetheless, the scene surrounding Thursday’s bombing, which took place so close to the site of the bombing on the last day of Operation Pillar of Defense, shows the world of difference between Israelis and Palestinians who die in the prism of conflict, and those who die at the hands of criminals, spouses, or in traffic accidents on Israel’s roads.