After initially lagging behind the other networks in even mentioning the Gaza-bound flotilla's connections to terrorist groups, on Wednesday CBS finally noted the existence of such ties, and on the same day NBC caught up with CBS in highlighting calls for Israel to end its blockade. Without directly relaying to viewers that the Israelis already allow tons of aid into Gaza on a regular basis, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell began her report: "Tonight there is worldwide pressure on Israel to end its three-year blockade of Gaza, except for the United States. The White House is simply telling Israel it must guarantee better deliveries of aid."
After showing a clip of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arguing that there is plenty of food and medicine in Gaza, Mitchell continued: "That is not what NBC News witnessed in Gaza today. Muhammed Abidrabu and his family of 12 live in two tents. Their home was destroyed when Israel invaded a year and a half ago. In the cooking area, only some cooking oil and a small bag of vegetables. A million and a half people live here, strangled by poverty, unemployment and hopelessness."
On CBS, in a report which began by airing complaints and accusations made by flotilla passengers about the conduct of Israeli troops, after a soundbite of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterizing passengers as "violent supporters of terrorism," correspondent Richard Roth noted the flotilla’s likely ties to terrorist groups: "And Israel says security camera video shows how they prepared with gas masks and slingshots before the Navy arrived. Israel claims the Turkish charity that funded them has terrorist backers whose real aim in opening Gaza is to arm it."
Below are complete transcripts of the relevant stories from the Wednesday, June 2, CBS Evening News and the same day’s NBC Nightly News:
#From the CBS Evening News :
KATIE COURIC: Now to the international dispute over Israel’s deadly raid on ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. Nine pro-Palestinian activists on board were killed on Monday. Nearly 700 others were detained, and today Israel deported them. But now a new confrontation could be just days away. Another aid ship docked in Greece is expected to head toward Gaza to challenge the blockade. Richard Roth has the latest.
RICHARD ROTH: Abandoning plans to prosecute its prisoners, Israel set them free and sent them home. But this was no gesture of compassion. Keeping them, warned an official, would have simply done Israel more damage, even if the stories they`re now telling do Israel no good. Some claim the Navy fired tear gas onto the ship, Mavi Marmara, provoking the chaos commandos met when they boarded. On another ship where commandos said they’d found weapons, it was pure fiction according to a Swedish novelist who was one of the passengers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he showed us was this: a razor. You think now I am crazy? Or that I am lying? But I`m not. He showed me, actually, it was my razor.
ROTH: Now in a PR battle, Israel released more video to make its point, that every effort to turn back the Turkish ship was resisted. That it wasn`t a love boat, as prime minister Netanyahu put it, it was a hate boat.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: These weren`t pacifists, they weren`t peace activists. These were violent supporters of terrorism.
ROTH: And Israel says security camera video shows how they prepared with gas masks and slingshots before the Navy arrived. Israel claims the Turkish charity that funded them has terrorist backers whose real aim in opening Gaza is to arm it.
NETANYAHU: Once again, Israel is told that it has a right to defend itself but is condemned every time it exercises that right.
ROTH: Israel`s not lifting its Gaza blockade, and there`s another challenge on the horizon: the Rachel Corrie, named for an American killed in the Palestinian enclave seven years ago. Israel’s promising she won`t sail in. Richard Roth, CBS News, London.
#From the NBC Nightly News :
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Israel tonight is continuing to face furious criticism from around the world over that raid on activists trying to breach the blockade of Gaza. But the United States is not one of the louder voices against Israel. Instead, the White House finds itself stuck between two U.S. allies. NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell is in Tel Aviv tonight. Andrea, good evening.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Good evening, Brian. Tonight there is worldwide pressure on Israel to end its three-year blockade of Gaza, except for the United States. The White House is simply telling Israel it must guarantee better deliveries of aid. Tonight crowds gathered in Istanbul to give a hero's welcome to Turkish pro-Palestinian activists as two who had been wounded in the attack on the aid flotilla arrived home on stretchers. Facing condemnation from around the world, Israel released hundreds of the activists today, but fired another round in the video war. Both sides armed with cameras trying to prove who was at fault in the clash. Israel claims today's edited clip shows the activists had used nonlethal stun grenades against the commandos. Israel is reeling from the crisis. A shouting match erupted tonight in parliament. When an Arab-Israeli member who had sailed on the flotilla tried to speak, some members denounced her as a traitor. Anger, too, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He was defiant about the commando raid, saying Israel has to defend itself from weapons smuggled into Gaza. But he offered no proof that there were weapons on board, and he claimed there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: There's no shortage of food. There's no shortage of medicine. There's no shortage of other goods.
MITCHELL: That is not what NBC News witnessed in Gaza today. Muhammed Abidrabu and his family of 12 live in two tents. Their home was destroyed when Israel invaded a year and a half ago. In the cooking area, only some cooking oil and a small bag of vegetables. A million and a half people live here, strangled by poverty, unemployment and hopelessness. Many say Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza, must broker a deal.
MARTIN INDYK, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: But a commitment from Hamas that could be observed by Israel not to launch attacks on Israel, to prevent attacks from other groups being launched from Gaza, to close down the tunnels and prevent smuggling, and in return, the Israelis would open the passages.
MITCHELL: But now yet another ship is sailing toward Gaza to test Israel's response. The White House has warned Israel not to attack anymore ships, but the larger concern is the diplomatic fallout with Turkey, a key ally, that can now work against international sanctions against Iran at the U.N.