Channel 4 News anchorman Jon Snow is back from Gaza. In an obviously unscripted, from-the-heart piece to camera he had this to say to British TV audiences about his experiences:
I’m back. And in the comfort of this studio its hard to imagine I was ever away. I don’t need to imagine, though, because what I saw is etched into my mind. What I never knew is what I know now which is that those people who live in Gaza are mainly unbelievably young. The average age is 17. That means that about quarter of a million are under ten. And you know if you know any ten-year olds, seven-year olds, five-year olds, four-year olds, the idea in the looseness of a war zone that you can control your children, that they won’t be somewhere where they can be hit is beyond the imagination. You can’t hope to control that. So, in a very densely packed urban area if you decide to throw missiles, shells and the rest then undoubtedly you will kill children. And that is what they are doing.
There was one specific moment that stood out above all others. And that was penetrating the third floor of the Shiva hospital – one of two floors dedicated to children. That’s where I met Maha, terribly crippled, by shrapnel that had penetrated her spine. That’s where I saw this little two-and-a-half-year old with panda-sized, huge, suppurating panda-like wounds that almost prevented her eyes opening at all. They were the consequence of a broken skull. I can’t get those images out of my mind. I don’t think you can either because they are the essence of what is happening in Gaza.
Now of course Hamas for its part was throwing rockets into Israel designed – ideally, as they would put it – to kill Israelis. But of course Israel, courtesy of American finance, has invented the most brilliant shield which is keeping absolutely everything out. And that’s a big difference.
The suffering is among the ground troops, mainly 20-year olds, who go in and get killed. So when I last spoke to a Norwegian doctor who is dealing with the consequences of this bombing I asked him how many children had been wounded. They’ve registered 1310. How many children dead? 166 – but that number is growing all the time.That is what makes this something that every one of us has to confront. We have to know that in some way we share responsibility for those deaths because for us it is no priority whatsoever to stop it. Our United Nations, our government, our world is not that interested.
The fact that you’re watching this, that you’ve chosen to watch this, means that you’re actually motivated to do something. And that in the end is the greatest hope that people in Gaza have. We cannot let it go on. If our reporting is worth anything, if you’re preparedness to listen and watch and read is anything to go by, together we can make a difference.
Channel 4, though funded largely by advertising, is publicly owned – and therefore, essentially, a branch of the UK state. Is this really the kind of “fair and balanced” reporting we would expect of such an institution?