Friday, March 16, 2007

Peaceful PalArabs attack UNRWA chief. Reuters downplays it.

From AP:
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Three masked Palestinian gunmen fired on a vehicle carrying the chief of the U.N. refugee mission in Gaza and tried to kidnap him, the U.N. official said.

No one was hurt in the kidnap attempt in northern Gaza, said John Ging, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza.

Earlier in the week, unidentified gunmen kidnapped a BBC reporter in Gaza City, Alan Johnston, who remains in captivity, his whereabouts unknown.

Ging said he, a driver and a security official were traveling in an armored vehicle when the gunmen jumped out of a white Subaru and opened fire. "They tried to force open the car, but our driver extracted himself from that situation," and sped away as the gunmen continued firing, he said. "This is a shocking development. We are still considering how to deal with this," Ging said.

The vehicle was clearly marked with the U.N. insignia and a U.N. flag, he said. Eleven bullets pierced the car, Ging added.

Reuters' coverage so far is only mentioned in passing in a different story, but includes this interesting blurb:
Palestinian attacks on UNRWA -- which supplies vital aid and employment for refugees in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and neighbouring Arab countries -- have been very rare.

Now, that's in interesting statement. In a few minutes of searching I found (from a 2002 UN report):
Many of the instances of threats against United Nations personnel occurred in the West Bank and Gaza. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) indicates that during the reporting period there was an increase in the number of violent incidents directed against United Nations and humanitarian personnel. In a number of instances UNRWA personnel were verbally abused, threatened, physically assaulted and shot at. What is of particular concern is that ambulances and medical personnel have not been exempt from attack. On a number of occasions, UNRWA ambulances were attacked, resulting in death and injury to personnel.

And, from 2006:
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) condemns the attack on a United Nations facility in Gaza on the morning of 1 January 2006 which included the beating of a UN guard by unknown assailants before they bombed the premises.

Now, why would Reuters characterize these as being "very rare"?

Because, of course, it goes against the Reuters template to characterize Palestinian Arabs as anything but victims or resistance fighters. To even imagine PalArabs attacking the very agency that pretends to help them the most goes against Reuters' editorial grain. So it is compelled to point out that specific attacks against UNRWA are "very rare" and completely ignore not only the numerous attacks that have occurred, but also the many attacks against other humanitarian organizations and NGOs that have made it enormously difficult for aid workers to do their jobs in Gaza and forced most of them to leave.