What You’d Know About Israel If You Watched Al Jazeera TV

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Israel’s siege of Gaza, largely unseen by the outside world because of Jerusalem’s refusal to allow humanitarian aid workers, reporters and photographers access to Gaza, rivals the most egregious crimes carried out at the height of apartheid by the South African regime. It comes close to the horrors visited on Sarajevo by the Bosnian Serbs.

Throughout the previous days of Israel’s pummeling of Gaza, live coverage of the war hasn’t made it into most American living rooms. That’s because Israel, America’s staunch ally, isn’t allowing journalists to enter Gaza while Al Jazeera, called anti-American and pro-terrorist by many in Washington, is the only network broadcasting live images from Gaza to the world.

Al Jazeera, the Qatari network that has previously undergone attacks and had its reporters arrested by the U.S. military, remains typically defiant. While other networks are increasingly severed from Gaza as phone lines are cut and 75 percent of the territory is without electricity, Al Jazeera is bringing its approximately 140 million English- and Arabic-speaking viewers live images of bombings, tanks rolling through Gaza’s farmland, and interviews with civilians and aid workers inside Gaza city.

Take Israel’s claim that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. After showing an Israeli politician writing off the assertion of the existence of a humanitarian disaster, Al Jazeera cut to the Al Shifa hospital, the largest in all of Gaza. There, we saw that there were not enough medical supplies and civilians lying on bloody hospital beds told us that their lives were not only being crippled by bombs falling on their houses, but by the extreme lack of water and food for the people cowering inside them.

The problem isn’t only that supplies can’t get in. People still can’t get out. Most are left searching hopelessly for safety while their stories remain trapped within Gaza’s walls.

“There is nowhere safe in Gaza,” an enraged John Ging, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, told Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros in front of the Al Shifa hospital today. Those words came after the Israeli Defense Forces bombed a UN school that was being used as a refuge. Later in the day, a second UN school was struck by the Israelis, killing at least 40. “Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized and they have the right to be because there is no safe haven…This violence needs to stop now. Neither side can wait for the other to stop first,” he said.

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