Israel-Lebanon Clash (US Slant) - Aviya Jefra

Aviya Jefra

Serious misfortunes of a Wednesday morning... I actually posted this yesterday, but apparently you have to publish and not just save.

Christian Science Monitor:
(1)•"Israel-Lebanon clash: Could it spark another war?"
The Christian Science Monitor covered the border clash in a very different light from most of the breaking news coverage styles. The article tells the facts in a neutral manner, stating that the conflict occurred at the Lebanese-Israeli border, began by Israeli soldiers trimming a hedge on the border (a security threat as it blocked a vision point for their troops) and it is undecided who fired first. However, the clash resulted in one Israeli soldier dead and one wounded, and at least two Lebanese soldiers dead and two wounded, in addition to the death of the Lebanese reporter. UNIFIL had managed to stop the conflict by requesting a cease-fire and both government's blame the other for the clash and claim the other initiated it.

The story really puts an emphasis on, as the title addresses, the possibility of this conflict resulting in an Israeli-Lebanese war. The slant focuses on how Hezbollah was not involved in the conflict, the fire remaining between the Lebanese and Israeli armies. Hezbollah's previous claim in May that they were ready to go to war with Israel kept the article's focus on the rising tensions between the two forces, citing the renewed training of the IDF and Hezbollah's newly recruited and trained army.

The article presents the fact in a very unbiased format, the diction and presentation showing no favor to either player country, yet the author seems to shift the perception of the main actors involved from Israel and Lebanon to Israel and Hezbollah (getting quotes in from both sides). The author concludes that the "the cross-border clash is probably an isolated incident", neither country seeming "eager to embark upon a conflict that many expect would be even more destructive than the last one".

(2)•"Israel-Lebanon clash: Did Israeli soldiers step into Lebanese territory?"
This article was actually far more informative than the first one published by the CS Monitor. It broadens the key actors from Lebanon and Israel to include Hezbollah, the UN  and the US. It also gives a background on why there is border confusion (the fact the the true border does not follow the geographical line that the border fence was built on), and how this type of misunderstanding has actually happened before; also that both the UN and Lebanon had been notified of Israel's "gardening" plans beforehand, begging the question of why the Lebanese would fire first (as they later admit to doing).

Hezbollah is mentioned several times, each time emphasizing that if the Israeli army attacks the Lebanese army, Hezbollah will be taking action in support/defense of the Lebanese soldiers. However, it was reported that the Lebanese army does admit to firing first, though they claim the shots were in warning rather than for harm.

Israel is represented as calling upon the US to rescind their financial support of the Lebanese troops ($525 million/year), in protection/favor if Israel. The US, however, maintains their support of the Lebanon army (sending ammunition, communication, and transportation aid but never arms or anti-arms weaponry to present a danger to their Israeli ally), so that Hezbollah cannot claim they have the best means to protect the country.

The UN is portrayed, obviously, as peace-keepers, being cited as requesting restraint on both parties and trying to finish their blue-lining of the border so as to avoid this type of conflict in the future.

There is a major similarity between the two articles in that they both remain fairly unbiased and both impress upon the reader the rising possibility of a clash between Israel and Hezbollah, while reassuring them that it's unlikely.

The New York Times:
(1)•"Lethal Clash at Israeli-Lebanon Border"
The diction from the start is far more exciting/dynamic/sensationalist than the CS Monitor, drawing the reader in and dramatizing the conflict. It claims some separate facts than the last two articles (it was actually four Lebanese that died, and there was a UN resolution for a cease-fire in the region that each accused the other of violating), though it mentions the same basic story.

The main difference, however, is the extremely obvious slant favoring Israel (surprise, surprise?... it is an American newspaper). The bulk of the article takes quotes and positions from Israeli representatives and the word choice favors Israeli innocence, presenting only neutrality when talking about the UN and international opinion in equally asking both sides to restrain (even though it does mention that Israel filed a protest with the Sec. General and Security Council, citing the incident as "one of many violations"). The article's partiality towards Israel is made very clear in
it's weighted coverage of the Israeli perspective and plight.

According to the article, Israeli military officials have been warning of violence for a while, suspecting Hamas and Hezbollah of building up an army to go to war against them, explaining that the Lebanese army has been "pointing rifles at the Israelis and threatening to fire" frequently in recent days.

To solidify the subjective slant, the article ends with mentions of peace talks and how Israel and the US are willing to push forward with them "but Islamic militant forces in the region are opposed to any resumption of direct talks", cleverly not mentioning what the Arab governments in the region (who would be the actors in any peace talks with Israel, not the "militant forces") had to say on the matter.

(2)•"UN Supports Israeli Accounts of Border Clash"
Another article quite obviously favoring Israel. Told with a nod to the UN and a hug for Israel, the article uses strong diction making the bias almost a Zionist piece than a news article, saying that the UN conclusion "vindicat[ed] Israel’s account of how the fighting started". The facts change again, this version agreeing with the CS Monitor in that 2 Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist had died, rather than 4 Lebanese total.

The early notification of the Lebanese army of the tree-trimming project is shown in this article as having been disputed before the conflict, to an extent excusing the Lebanese army for their warning fire.

Israel warns Lebanon and Hamas, in this article, placing public blame on Hamas for the recent rocket attacks on the south of Israel from Gaza and on the Israeli resort of Eilat and the Jordanian resort of Aqaba in the Egyptian Sinai. The article goes on to say that Israeli military officials believed the attacks were planned and it mentions the US representative that had, yesterday, publicly stated that it looked like Lebanon had initiated the conflict.

Only at the very end, in its own little dinky paragraph that, given the inverted pyramid model, should not be important news, did it say that "Mr. Barak, the Israeli defense minister, said Wednesday that the episode had not been planned by the Lebanese General Staff and that Hezbollah was not a partner to it".

The Washington Post:
(1)•"UN says Israel did not violate border in clash with Lebanon"
Presents a somewhat more rounded and filled in view of the conflict and it's background. The UN arranged a meeting Wednesday (today), the three-way meeting between Lebanon, Israel and the UN resulting in the UN /UNIFIL stated it expected both Lebanon and Israel to "renew their commitment" to the previously enforced "cessation of hostilities". The language is very straightforward and seems more like the CS Monitor than the Times, though the amount of coverage does seem, again, to favor Israel.

The author mentions how the incident comes at a time of strife for Israel (with the recent rockets allegedly fired from Egypt's Sinai), and how Lebanon has been experiencing much turmoil as a result of newly suspected spies because of the border-clash. However, the representation and coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the excessive quotes again present a bias; he publicly denounced the international community for not condemning the Lebanese army's actions. The Lebanese officials had similar statements, but the UN's siding with Israel in the territory line invalidates the Lebanese complaint to American readers. Both governments are on edge though, declaring definite retaliation to any future violence/attacks.

The article focuses upon Israel's rising fear of Hezbollah's buildup of arms in recent months and how there is speculation (on the part of US officials) that a third Lebanese war could break out in the next year of so if tensions continue (especially seeing as, according to this article, Israel has stated that any violence/attacks on the part of Hezbollah against Israel will be considered an attack by the Lebanese army as well).

Biased but informative and presented a good amount of background information on the event/region.

The San Francisco Chronicle:
(1)•"UN disputes Lebanese claim Israel violated border"
Not as sensationalist as the other SF Chronicle articles, verifies that the clash was over the cypress tree that was, in an official decision by the UN, on the Israeli border. This refutes the Lebanese claim that the tree was on their border. The article does mention that while the Lebanese opened fire on a normal occurrence (Israel apparently gardens on the border semi-regularly), the UN had asked Israel to stop gardening and they ignored the UN's request. Gave some background on the blue line border drawn in 2000 by the UN, and mentions, for the first time that the blue-line border is disputed by the Lebanon government in some areas, and Adeisseh, the village where the clash took place, thus validating their claim that Israel's gardening was a direct provocation.

The article goes on to talk about the growing tensions and Israel's hesitation due to Hezbollah's strengthening forces, though both sides are cited as wanting no conflict with the other.

The article disagrees with former articles by quoting the Lebanese minister, Mitri, as saying that he had not been warned Tuesday about the tree-trimming. Wednesday when Israel and the UN warned him about it and he approved it and the rest of the gardening went off without any conflict, he stated that if the same had happened the day before, the clash would not have occurred. In the article, however, Mitri continues to deny that the spot of the cypress tree was in Israeli territory.

Talks of the arrests in Lebanon of suspected spies for Israel, and then, for the first time takes an angle that sympathizes with the Lebanese side: it tells of the funeral of one of the sergeants killed in the clash, describing him as a man with a family, the last quote being "As Tufeili laid to rest in his grave, his father, Mohammed, held back his tears as he shouted: "You are a hero, you are a hero!"" Though, if we consider the upside down triangle format of news pieces, than this would be the irrelevant details.

(2)•"Israel-Lebanon border clash shatters peace"
This article seems, to me, very obviously quickly written and not very thorough on the part of the journalist. It includes far less information and no direct quotes, unlike the articles of the NY Times and the CS Monitor. Similarly to the NY Times, it does use sensationalist terminology, making the clash seem like the beginning of a war (though that was how events could have gone had tensions risen higher and both countries not cooperated with the UN's request to restrain).

Does not represent both sides, only referencing Israel's position and is definitely not well-researched, the author stating "some news reports said" when talking about the concrete facts of what had actually happened. The only true analysis and reporting provided within the article focus on Israel's fear of the growing armament of Hezbollah and the potential danger their now equipped army presents to the US-backed country.

Overall, a waste of time to read after already reading the other articles on the same topic.

•"Israeli Army Returns to Lebanon Border Clash Site"

•"US: Time Now for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks"
I believe this was written before the Israel-Lebanon conflict... it states that there have been several fairly unsuccessful indirect talks between Israel and Palestine, but that the US (and Obama) are pushing for direct peace talks, saying it's time. Because apparently the US is the mother to the taciturn siblings of Israel and Palestine, telling them when and what to do things.

The inclination is toward Israel as the article ends with "The US and Israel have been calling for direct talks for some time, but the Palestinians have balked".

•There was a clash between Israel and Lebanon on the border is Adeisseh over a tree
•Reason for "gardening" incident was for security reasons; tree was blocking Israeli view of Lebanon
•One Israeli soldier, two Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist (
•There was a UN organized meeting between the UN and Israel and Lebanon on Wednesday
•UN asked restraint on both sides
•UN sided with Israel in Blue Line decision, stating tree was on Israeli territory
•UNIFIL was warned of tree-trimming by Israel prior to the clash
•Lebanon was warned of the tree-trimming prior to the clash
•Lebanon was not warned of the tree-trimming prior to clash on Tuesday, but was on Wednesday
•Israel finished (peacefully) the tree-trimming on Wednesday
•Israel was asked to stop the tree-trimming by the UN, but ignored the UN
•Hezbollah was not involved in the actual conflict
•Hezbollah will take action is there is ever an Israeli attack on the Lebanese army in the future
•Hezbollah is/has been building up their army/weaponry
•Israel will interpret an attack on Israel by Hezbollah as an attack by the Lebanese gov't as well
•Israel and Lebanon each blame each other
•Israel and Lebanon each claim the other has broken the UN cease-fire mandate
•Israel asks the US to rescind their financial support of Lebanon/Lebanese army
•Lebanon admits to firing first
•Lebanon maintains claim that tree was on Lebanese territory, though south of Border Line
•Lebanon admitted that the tree was south of the Blue Line/border line
•Lebanon has been faced with multiple arrests (>70) of suspected Israeli spies
•Israel is dealing with rockets from Gaza (retaliating with rockets of their own) and from Egypt's Sinai desert
•Israel is complaining/calling upon the UN to prevent/stop Hezbollah from amassing more arms and forces
•Lebanese PM Harir calls on the "international community [to] bear their responsibilities and pressure Israel to stop its aggression".
•Predictions that border tensions will lead to war
•Predictions that border tensions will not result in war
•Lebanese opened fire at Israeli's
•Lebanese fired warning shots at Israeli's
•Israeli's retaliated with artillery and small arms
•Israel was asked to hold fire so Lebanese could evacuate wounded, then were attacked by a "rocket-propelled grenade" and a Israeli tank was fired at
•Israel retaliated with a helicopter
•Israeli army believes the attack was planned
•Hezbollah wants to be the army/force defending Lebanon/South Lebanon
•This is the biggest conflict between Israel-Lebanon since the Israeli-Hezbollah border war in 2006
•Both sides are trying to restore calm

For a more simplified/organized version go up the page to the August 5th posting (The Facts) and download the document file linked in the post. Seemed pretty useful... :)

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