COMMUNIQUE: 4 August 2010
What were photographers and journalists doing at the scene of the incident before a deadly exchange of fire between Lebanese and Israeli forces?
A fatal exchange of fire between Lebanese soldiers and the IDF on Israel’s northern border has left one Israeli soldier dead along with 4 other fatalities on the Lebanese side. The incident also raises questions concerning the integrity of the media that covered the events.
Lebanese forces opened fire on IDF soldiers performing routine maintenance work by the security fence near the border. The IDF soldiers were clearing bushes to improve the line of sight over the border and to prevent Hezbollah terrorists from hiding in the undergrowth and carrying out an attack or kidnapping. The routine work had been cleared in advance with UNIFIL.
It is vital to note that the UN demarcated Blue Line that marks the official border between Israel and Lebanon does not always follow the route of the security fence. While the IDF was operating over the fence, it was still within Israeli territory as seen on the map below.
Wire Services Get it Wrong
How and Why Were the Photographers There?
A Simple Narrative Ignored by the Media
The truth, however, is easy to ascertain–did Israel announce the maintenance, permit the photographers and UN people to watch and then cross deliberately into Lebanon?–but Israel is being portrayed as an aggressor that caused the outbreak of fighting. So millions of people will either believe that Israel was at fault or that the event is in question.
The narrative, however, is simple: In an unprovoked attack, Lebanese soldiers fired on Israelis and murdered one soldier.
Update – 5 August
As reported even in the New York Times, the UN has backed up Israel’s account of events, publicly confirming that the IDF was carrying out its operation, in full transparency and cooperation with UNIFIL on the Israeli side of the Blue Line.
Many of the media outlets mentioned above have amended photo captions and covered, to varying degrees, the latest developments.
Sky News Foreign Editor Tim Marshall also questions how it was that so many journalists and photographers happened to be at the scene.
HR’s Backspin blog takes a detailed look at Reuters’ photographic coverage of the event and raises some troubling questions as to the integrity of the wire service.