Research & Insights

By Seth Teicher, August 5, 2014

Did the Media Blame Israel or Hamas for the Collapsed Humanitarian Ceasefire in Gaza

The rapid disintegration of last Friday’s humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was widely covered in the press. Given the controversy surrounding who and what caused the collapse, I was curious how media from around the world assigned blame. Was there a consensus? Did a particular incident reignite the conflict? Did outlets from different regions vary substantially in their reporting?

To better understand the contours of the coverage, I needed to analyze a proxy for the global mainstream media. So I scraped the top 250 English language articles on Google News with the keyword “ceasefire” at around 1pm PST on Friday August 1st (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). I then whipped up a text analytics job on CrowdFlower and began to process the data.

After scoring for relevance, I asked the crowd a few things:

  • What region did the media outlet come from?

  • Did the author assign blame? If so, was it Israel, Hamas or Both?

  • What evidence was cited to support the author’s position?

Findings:

how_the_worlds_media_covered_the_collapsed_humanitarian_ceasefire

As you can see, the crowd’s analysis of media outlets from the Middle East, excluding Israel, blamed the Israeli military in 50% of the articles. Conversely, media from all other regions, excluding India, asserted that Hamas was culpable for the collapse more than 50% of the time.

This contrast is accentuated when you examine the evidence cited for the ceasefire breakdown. Analysis of all relevant articles found that nearly 80% of the time, the kidnapping of an IDF soldier (now confirmed killed) was the primary reason why the ceasefire fell apart.

primary_reason_for_ceasefire_collapse

The distributions we see here speak to the different perspectives that have emerged in the past few weeks. Outside of the participants themselves, it’s interesting that the two outside parties most invested in a ceasefire, the Middle East and the US, diverge so strongly on the facts surrounding the broken ceasefire on August 1st. It invites the question, if we can’t agree on the problem, how can we reach consensus on a solution?