Studies show that US coverage is Israeli-centric. The main bureaus for CNN, Associated Press, Time, etc. are located in Israel and often staffed by Israelis. The son of the NY Times bureau chief is in the Israeli army;"pundit" Jeffrey Goldberg served in the IDF; Wolf Blitzer worked for AIPAC. Because the U.S. gives Israel over $8 million/day - more than to any other nation - we feel it is essential that we be fully informed on this region. Below are news reports to augment mainstream coverage.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Analysis: Shalit compared to 6,000 Palestinian prisoners

Ma'an- As Israel marks the fifth anniversary of Gilad Shalit's detention, analysts say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to compare the soldier to 6,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Netanyahu announced Thursday that he had instructed Israel's prison service to toughen conditions for Palestinian detainees to pressure Hamas to release Shalit, who was captured by Gaza militants in a 2006 cross-border raid.

"I'm not going to detail the measures, but I can tell you the party's over," the prime minister said.

Analysts say the crackdown is an attempt to distract attention from the government's failure to free the soldier, and that Netanyahu is comparing Shalit to over 6,000 Palestinians prisoners, some of whom have been in Israeli custody for over 30 years.

Israel's Hebrew-language newspaper Maariv reported Sunday that Netanyahu's comments drew swift reactions in Israel at official levels and popular levels.

Officials and organizers of campaigns to free Shalit were comparing the soldier's conditions to those of Palestinian prisoners, highlighting that Shalit's whereabouts were not known, Maariv reported.

Ma'an's Israel affairs analyst Nasser Atiyeh said the Shalit family "should pray that Gilad's place is not known to Israeli authorities. This is what keeps him alive. Israel's security echelon has been trying to reveal where Shalit is detained in order to carry out a major military operation which leaves his life on thin ice."

Atiyeh noted that Israel refused to treat Palestinian detainees as prisoners of war, but insisted that Shalit should be treated as such.

Israel also ignored the fact that during the last 44 years Palestinians went on hunger strike and some died in the struggle to achieve better conditions in custody, which could not be considered privileges, Atiyeh said.

Speaking to Ma'ariv, Israel's prison commander Aharon Franco said the prison service had studied the conditions of Palestinian detainees.

Franco said media reports that Palestinian prisoners were living in hotel-like conditions were exaggerated. He added that it was possible to arrange dishes served to 10 prisoners to look like a restaurant, but that in reality each detainee had a space of two square meters to spend days and nights.

The commander said prisons in Israel were no different from those in most countries.

The Palestinian Authority says 6,000 Palestinians are being detained in Israeli prisons, including 219 in Administrative Detention who are held without charge.