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Thursday, June 16, 2016

The headline and photo in The Independent:


The first paragraphs of the article by Peter Yeung:
Israel has cut off the water supply to large areas of the West Bank, Palestinian authorities have claimed.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians have reportedly been left without access to safe drinking water during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting, at a time when temperatures can exceed 35C.

The northern city of Jenin, which has a population of more than 40,000, said its water supplies had been cut in half by Mekorot, Israel's national water company. Jenin is home to a refugee camp, established in 1953, which contains 16,000 registered refugees.

Finally, after 13 paragraphs of accusations of Israel deliberately withholding water from Arabs, comes the "balance:"

A spokesperson for the Israeli government told The Indepedent there is "no truth" in the claims, and said the shortages were down to faulty water lines.

They said: "Several hours ago, COGAT's Civil Administration team have repaired a burst pipe line, which disrupted the water supply to the villages of Marda, Biddya, Jamma'in, Salfit and Tapuach. The water flow has been regulated and is currently up and running.

COGAT even shows a short video of the burst pipeline, commenting "COGAT's Water Unit is available around the clock to address any water disruptions throughout Judea & Samaria, and we continue to work diligently to ensure that civilians have access to running water at all times."

Israel has no incentive whatsoever to purposefully withhold water from Arab civilians. The article makes it sound like the army is simply being vindictive and petty, when in fact the COGAT unit tries to help Arab civilians as much as it can - that is its entire purpose.

The International Business Times coverage was even worse.
Israel is reported to have cut the water supply to the West Bank during Ramadan, in a move often dubbed "water apartheid" by critics of Israel. The state-run Israeli water company, Mekorot, shut the valves of the lines leading to areas in the West Bank, reports have stated on Wednesday 15 June.

Israel's step is likely to leave tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the volatile region without water for safe consumption. Israel has sanctioned water available to Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip ever since Israel's occupation of the areas, which started in 1967.
It gets even worse.

UK Media Watch contacted COGAT and Mekorot:

COGAT has informed us (in a series of emails) that... due to increased usage during the summer months, Mekorot (Israel’s water carrier) was forced to reduce the overall supply to ALL areas of the West Bank – including in Jewish communities.

We sent an email to Mekorot, who then confirmed to us the increased demand during the summer months has resulted in shortages in the West Bank “to Israeli settlements and Palestinian areas“. A resident in an Israeli community in Samaria who we spoke to confirmed that the shortages have indeed affected Jewish communities.
COGAT told the Independent reporter this - and he didn't bother to mention it, because the idea of Israel discriminating against Arabs is simply too good to bother contradicting with facts.

UK Media Watch did further investigations that Peter Yeung didn't:
[COGAT] told us that, in order to accommodate Palestinians during Ramadan, when Muslims can’t drink water during the day, “the water supply has been increased during night-time in order to meet the needs of the residents”.

Additionally, COGAT noted that, beginning at the start of Ramadan, on June 6-7, “the water supply to Hebron and Bethlehem [was] expanded [by] 5,000 cubic meters per day in order to meet the needs of the residents“.
This shows another dimension to media bias against Israel. Accusations of mendacity against the Jewish state are treated as facts, as is often the case, but when those lies happen to coincide with the biases of the reporters, there is little or no attempt to find out if there is another side of the story. (In this case, the COGAT quote was only added after complaints to Yeung, he didn't bother to contact COGAT or Mekorot before submitting the article.)


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