Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shoe Wars

In previous posts, we have questioned the claims of Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi when he reported this month that Israel had, for the first time since the start of the Gaza embargo, allowed a shipment of clothes and shoes into the territory for sale by traders.  We noted that photos published by the newspaper Palestine Today late last year showed retailers' racks stock full of apparel.

This would only be possible if either, a) traders were selling goods manufactured exclusively in Gaza, or b) al-Mughrabi was wrong.

The media watchdog CAMERA picked up on our post and, citing the Palestine Trade Center (PalTrade), noted that 3,671 tons of commercial clothes and shoes had entered the Gaza Strip through Israeli crossings in August of 2008 followed by 1,180 tons in September and 1,125 tons in October of the same year.  Clearly, al-Mughrabi was mistaken.

Rather than accept responsibility for the error and correct it openly in compliance with the Reuters Handbook of Journalism, Reuters runs another story today and -- wait for it -- blames Israel for the misinformation:
Israeli military officials said on April 4 that only foreign aid groups had been allowed to import footwear and clothes into Gaza in the previous three years.  On Wednesday, officials repeated that assertion.
Given immense international pressure on Israel to mitigate the Gaza embargo, how likely is it that the Israeli military would, in comments to the press, overstate the restrictions on imports?  We don't suppose this could be a case of Reuters misreporting.  Nah!

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