WEEKLY WEB WATCH: Ideology and news vie on Mid East sites

Organisation: Middle East web sites

Organisation: Middle East web sites

Issue: Middle East crisis

At: various web sites

Web sites covering the latest outbreak of violence in the Middle East approach the issues in very different ways.

A particularly partisan view can be found on the web site of the Israel Defence Forces (www.idf.il). The site, offered in English and Hebrew, is a news site which is still running the deaths of the two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah back on 12 October as its top story. Below pictures of the two army reservists killed when they were taken into custody by Palestinian policemen are scenes of the mob outside the police station (and leaning from its upper windows) when the two were being murdered.

Other stories look at minor injuries to two Israeli forces on Monday and three Israeli civilians on Sunday.There are no mentions of casualties among the civilian stone-throwers on the Palestinian side and little historical perspective.

A very different picture of events emerges on the Arabia.com site (www.arabia.com) - a business-focused site for Arabs, run out of Saudi Arabia.

On this site users can send on-line postcards in support of the Palestinians.

Among the choices is one showing a young Palestinian firing a catapault.

Under the title 'Hezbollah Strikes Again', the site is running news of the capture of an Israeli army officer operating undercover in Lebanon.

The story carries the demand from Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah for the release of Israeli-held Lebanese prisoners in return for information about the fate of captured Israelis.

Other Arabic sites are heavy on rhetoric and history. While the IDF site features gruesome photographs of the lynchings in Ramallah, the Hezbollah site (Hezbollah.com) features a series of pictures which show a 12-year-old being murdered in front of his father.

These photographs, and those of other children with horrific injuries purportedly inflicted at the hands of the Israelis, are accompanied by rhetoric such as, 'Hezbollah has proven that Islam will defeat Zionism. The Shabaa region is part of Lebanon and will be liberated'. Although big on ideology, the site carries little current news.

The rhetoric is similar on the official Hamas site at www.palestine-info.org. For example: 'We have had nothing since destruction and war since 1948. In the name of Allah the most gracious the most merciful Hamas urge them to defend with souls and blood.' The top news story is about a large demonstration against the peace talks underway in Egypt rather than the violence.

In the UK, the BBC news site(www.bbc.co.uk) takes the expected balanced line, although it acts as a portal to access all the above sites. It reports the positions of both Israeli and Palestinian protagonists in its main story.

The text lists the different agendas of each side and quotes the leaders of each blaming the other for the latest trouble.

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