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The Middle East According to AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is one of the world’s most biased news agencies, especially where the Middle East is concerned. Today AFP published this helpful guide to the “key events in 2008″ relating to Gaza, Hamas and Israel:

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In AFP’s narrative, the story begins with Israel imposing a blockade of Gaza in January. No mention of the rocket attacks launched by Hamas from Gaza that prompted the blockade.

The next event that the AFP finds noteworthy is Israel’s five-day “offensive” of February and March 2008, which “kills over 120 Palestinians.” No mention of the 257 rockets and 228 mortars that were fired into Israel from Gaza during the month of February alone, no mention of Hamas’ resumption of suicide bombing in February, and no acknowledgement that many of those killed were Hamas terrorists.

In June, AFP reminds us, Israel and Hamas agreed to a six-month truce. Again, context is absent, but the significance of the truce lay in Hamas’ agreement to stop launching attacks on Israel from Gaza. And for a while, it almost did. This graphic shows the number of rocket launchings on a monthly basis:

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This one shows mortar attacks:

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As you can see, the mortar and rocket attacks never quite stopped, but resumed in earnest last month, when they averaged around three a day. AFP helpfully explains what happened: “Israeli assault sparks resumption of Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza.” What “Israeli assault” was that? The IDF sent special forces 200 yards across the border to destroy a tunnel that had been built to facilitate the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Intelligence indicated that such a kidnapping was imminent:

The IDF accused Hamas of jeopardizing the truce by digging the tunnel and plotting to abduct more Israeli soldiers in the immediate future.

“The tunnel we uncovered was ready for imminent use, forcing us to act immediately,” the military source said. “We did not know where the other end of the tunnel surfaced. In light of the intelligence we received about its immediate use, plans for special forces to enter Gaza this evening after sundown were approved,” he added.

Hamas gunmen opened fire on IDF forces and Hamas fired 45 rockets into Israel the same night. AFP uncritically parrots Hamas’ pretext that Israel’s destruction of the kidnapping tunnel was the reason for its resumption of rocket and mortar attacks.

That’s it, as far as AFP is concerned, until December 19, when Hamas “ends [the] truce.” Of course, as the graphics above show, there was no truce to end by December.

The AFP says that on December 27, Israeli planes “blitz Hamas targets.” Give them credit for acknowledging the nature of the targets, but isn’t “blitz” a somewhat fraught term to describe Israel’s carefully aimed attacks?

While AFP’s summary of “key events in 2008″ is useless as a guide to what has happened in Gaza and Israel over the past year, it does accurately reflect AFP’s woefully biased coverage of that part of the world: the Middle East according to AFP.

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