Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahuphoto: file

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni criticized Arab media bias in an interview with the pan-Arab network Al-Jazeera on Monday. “When you show one-sided images from Gaza you're not helping peace,” she told her interviewer.

Arab media outlets broadcast images that inspire rage and hostility, Livni said, adding, “We want a better future for this region.” Arab media have repeatedly broadcast images of children supposedly wounded or killed in the Gaza operation, and many outlets have failed to mention that the vast majority of those killed were armed members of Hamas and other terrorist groups.

Israel does not intentionally hurt Gaza civilians, while Hamas intentionally aims for Israeli civilians, Livni said in the interview. Hamas bears the responsibility for any civilian casualties in Gaza, because the group's terrorists hide among the civilian population, she said. “Hamas is indifferent to the fate of Gaza's inhabitants,” Livni added.

Livni told Al-Jazeera that Israel had warned civilians living near targeted buildings to leave the area before conducting airstrikes.

Majalli Whbee, the deputy Foreign Minister, took on hostile media as well. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Whbee accused foreign media outlets of failing to report the Israeli side of the Gaza conflict. Many media outlets show casualties in Gaza without covering the hundreds of recent rocket attacks on Israel or the hundreds of thousands of Israelis under threat, he said.

The Foreign Ministry has conducted a massive public relations campaign since the “Cast Lead” counterterrorism operation in Gaza began on Saturday. Leading politicians and spokesmen have given dozens of interviews each.

The campaign has put particular emphasis on reaching out to Arab media outlets. Dozens of Arab reporters have interviewed Israeli politicians. Among those who spoke to Arab media were Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter. Dichter gave his interviews in Arabic, while Livni and Barak spoke English.

Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu joined the PR effort as well, speaking to the United States-based Fox News channel on Monday and scheduling several more interviews for Tuesday. Netanyahu spoke on behalf of Israel and the IDF during the Second Lebanon War as well.

Netanyahu's aides said he was happy to contribute to the PR campaign despite the fact that as head of the Likud, he is running against Livni and other top Kadima-affiliated ministers in the February elections. Netanyahu will speak in support of Israel while continuing to criticize the current government for its years of inaction, they said.