B’Tselem learned from the media today that the Israel Broadcast Authority (IBA) had rejected an appeal against IBA Radio’s refusal to air a spot in which the names of Gazan children killed during Operation Protective Edge were read out. In response, B’Tselem posted the censored spot on Facebook. Within hours, almost 300,000 people had been exposed to the names and the post was shared more than 900 times.
More than 1000 Palestinians have been killed during the fighting in Gaza so far, including several children. Yet Israeli media is barely covering the story, other than mentioning the number of casualties. To encourage public debate in Israel on the issue, B’Tselem asked to purchase a spot on IBA Radio in order to have the names of some of the children killed read out. The radio refused, on the grounds that reading out the names of Palestinian children killed in Gaza is politically “controversial”. Yet the refusal is, in itself, far from neutral: it is a powerful statement in favor of silencing public debate over the massive price that Gazan civilians are paying for this operation.
One reason given for refusing to play the spot was that reporting the names of the dead “belongs in newscasts”. In a letter to the IBA, B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad responded: “The newscasts in Israel, which – so you yourself claim – should broadcast the names of the Palestinian dead, are not doing so. To bring these facts to the public’s attention, we had to resort to buying radio spots ourselves. Yet our request was denied based on the hypothetical claim that the newscasts should broadcast the names. The result of this circular reasoning is that a human issue of utmost, urgent public importance has been effectively silenced and erased from the public sphere, both in newscasts and in radio advertising.”