On October 7, 2023, Palestinian resistance organizations began Operation Al-Aqsa Flood from the Gaza Strip. This unprecedented and historic action presented a threat to Israeli occupation and revealed its weaknesses. Hundreds of fighters were simultaneously infiltrated into Israeli territory during the operation, which entailed a large rocket fire on Israel. These fighters were able to seize control of a number of settlements and military outposts close to the Gaza border.
The third holiest place in Islam and a representation of Palestinian national aspirations, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which has been the target of ongoing Israeli assaults and provocations, inspired the operation’s name.
The Western media’s coverage of the operation, however, was generally slanted, misrepresented, and deceptive, reflecting the predominately pro-Israeli narrative that has been created by years of American backing and propaganda. Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’s coverage in the Western media was notable for many reasons, including:
Omission: The context and causes of the operation, including the ongoing Israeli blockade, siege, and bombardment of Gaza, which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe for its two million residents, the Israeli annexation of Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Israeli repression of Palestinian protests and resistance, and Israeli violations of the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, were largely ignored or downplayed by the western media.
Instead, Hamas and other militant organizations were vilified as terrorists and zealots in the Western media, who presented the operation as an unwarranted and illogical act of aggression by these groups.
Framing: Instead of portraying the operation as a justifiable response to Israel’s occupation and oppression, the Western media framed it as a danger to Israel’s security and continued existence. The Western media highlighted the number and range of rockets fired by the Palestinians. At the same time, the quantity and effects of Israeli airstrikes and artillery pounding on Gaza were downplayed or ignored.
Additionally, the Western media emphasized the deaths and suffering of Israelis while demeaning or ignoring the deaths and suffering of Palestinians. The Western media defended Israel’s conduct using phrases like “self-defense,” “retaliation,” and “deterrence” while criticizing Palestine’s activities with phrases like “attack,” “invasion,” and “escalation.”
Sources: The official Israeli sources, including government spokespeople, military officials, and diplomats, on which the Western media mainly depended to report on the operation, gave a biased and one-sided perspective. The Israeli narrative was replicated or enhanced by pro-Israeli specialists, commentators, and politicians who were also mentioned or interviewed by Western media.
The Western media hardly ever or only seldom quoted or spoke with Palestinian sources, such as resistance leaders, civil society activists, and human rights defenders, who may offer an opposing or critical viewpoint on the operation.
The foreign sources that could offer an unbiased or factual appraisal of the operation, including UN agencies, humanitarian organizations, and independent observers, were likewise disregarded or ignored by the Western media.
Effects: Public opinion and policymaking were impacted in a number of ways by the Western media’s coverage of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. First, it supported the widely held belief that Israel is a victim of Palestinian terrorism and violence rather than an aggressor or an occupier. In addition, it criminalized or delegitimized Palestine’s right to resistance and self-determination while disguising or justifying Israel’s transgressions of international law and human rights.
Thirdly, it led to hatred and disregard for the misery of the Palestinian people among Western viewers while fostering sympathy and support for Israel’s actions. Fourth, it undermined or prevented any diplomatic or political pressure on Israel to halt its occupation and persecution while enabling or encouraging U.S. political and military aid to Israel.
Since Israel’s interests and goals were fulfilled at the expense of Palestine’s rights and aspirations, the Western media’s coverage of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood was propaganda rather than an unbiased or impartial presentation of the facts. This type of news coverage is not inescapable or organic; rather, it is a product of structural elements that impact the Western media landscape, including corporate ownership, advertising money, state control, ideological filters, professional norms, and public relations.
It is recommended that these aspects should be critically examined to see how they affect public perception and media performance. More diversified, independent, and responsible media are required so that the prevailing narrative may be contested and its fallacies exposed. Along with this, a more informed, engaged, and active public that can resist media manipulation and demand justice for Palestine is needed.