Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Salvation in a News Broadcast


When Gaza’s electricity is in working order, most Palestinians in the impoverished and overcrowded Strip huddle around their television screens. It’s neither “American Idol” nor “Dancing with the Stars” that brings them together. It’s the news.

Gazans’ relationship to news media is both complex and unique. Like most Palestinians everywhere, they intently watch and listen to news broadcasts the world over, with the hope that salvation will arrive in the form of a news bulletin. Evidently, salvation is yet to be aired.

That infatuation is hardly coincidental, however, as their purpose of reading, listening and watching is unmistakable. Palestinians deeply care about what the rest of the world is saying about their plight and struggle. Most importantly, they wonder if anyone out there cares.

During the first Intifada’s long and harsh Israeli military curfews in Gaza, my family would gather around a small radio, always nervous that the batteries would die, leaving us with a total news blackout; a horrible scenario by Gaza’s standards.

The Israeli army used to habitually cut off electricity and water for whatever refugee camp that was targeted for a crackdown. The practice persists to this day in Gaza, but on a much larger scale, where fuel is denied, food and medical supplies are alarmingly scarce, and water generators are in a pitiable state. So-called collective punishment has always been the pinnacle of Israel’s policy towards the miserable Strip. Some things never change.

Regardless, somehow Gaza miraculously manages. The people of that tiny stretch of land find ways to cope with their ample tragedies, as they did the moment the first caravan of refugees, parched and desperate, made their way into Gaza following the 1948 Nakba. They weep for their loss, bury their dead, ask God for mercy, and, once again, return home to huddle around their radios, seeking a glimpse of hope in news broadcasts.

Today, their trust, or lack thereof in any news station depends largely on whether that particular station is committed to articulating their suffering and tragedy, as it is seen from their viewpoint, not that of an Israeli army’s spokesperson; thus their love-hate relationship with major news networks like the BBC, Voice of America and others. Although most Palestinians in Gaza find Al-Jazeera network most understanding to their plight, they can never forgive it for providing a platform for Israeli government and army officials. Still, most Palestinians tune in to Al-Jazeera as a trustworthy outlet whenever tragedy strikes, and it often does.

News from Gaza and news about Gaza has hardly ever been as grim as it is these days. Every single day, there are statements attributed to UN officials and human rights organisations, decrying the siege on Gaza, the strangulation of a whole population, and the deafening silence of the international community towards what is now perceived as the world’s most pressing humanitarian catastrophe. Palestinians in Gaza listen ever intently. They hope, although apprehensively, that perhaps the United States will pressure Israel to ease its siege, to allow medical access for the terminally ill, to restore fuel supplies. Yet day after day, the situation worsens and little is done to rectify the injustice.

When international officials, such as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon or former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson call on Israel to ease or end the sanctions on Gaza, Gazans move a bit closer to their televisions. They insist on believing that Israel will eventually heed the calls, but always to no avail.

It was “almost unbelievable” that the world did not care about “a shocking violation of so many human rights” in Gaza, said Robinson, who is also former president of Ireland, as reported on the BBC 4 November. “Their whole civilisation has been destroyed, I’m not exaggerating,” she said.

On that same day, Israel moved into Gaza with the intent of provoking a fight and ending the shaky truce with Hamas, which has largely held since June. The army killed six Palestinians and wounded three.

John Ging, director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, told The Washington Post 15 November, “This is a disastrous situation, and it’s getting worse and worse… It is unprecedented that the UN is unable to get its supplies in to a population under such obvious distress; many of these families have been subsisting on this ration for years, and they are living hand-to-mouth.”

Since then, on 20 November, the same official reported that Israel reversed a decision to let 70 truckloads of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

Philip Luther of Amnesty International decried “Israel’s latest tightening of its blockade [which] has made an already dire humanitarian situation markedly worse.”

“Chronic malnutrition is on a steadily rising trend and micronutrient deficiencies are of great concern,” said a leaked report by the Red Cross, as reported in The Independent. The report said that Israeli restrictions are causing “progressive deterioration in food security for up to 70 per cent of Gaza’s population”.

Gazans are still flipping through the channels and cranking the radio dials, left and right, as these calls continue to fall on deaf ears. They wonder why their plight is not treated with the same urgency as that of the Red Sea piracy or even that of eastern Congo, despite the fact that their misery has perpetuated for generations, and is worsening.

They also pass by Arabic channels and wonder about the seemingly never-ending party, while Gaza has been reduced to total desolation. They listen to Fatah and Hamas officials spewing insults and fighting over government positions that don’t exist and territories that hold no sovereignty. They shake their heads in dismay and carry on, for perhaps tomorrow will bring with it some good news — for once.

RAMZY BAROUD is an author and editor of His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).





Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is:

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
Lara Gardner
Why I’m Not Voting
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017