This week on the Human Rights Channel, we continue to track the conflict between Gaza and Israel through the perspective of civilians. Also, we bring you the story of a land dispute in Costa Rica and the struggles of Kenyans displaced in 2007-2008 post-election violence.
Attacks between Gaza & Israel, and the Circulation of False Images
As aerial bombardments into Gaza enter their third week, the death toll approaches 200. Citizen videos like the one above taken in the southern Gaza strip border community of Rafah, show the flattening of homes and the frightening chaos of aerial strikes in Gaza. Bombardments caused Egypt to take the rare step to opened the Rafah crossing to receive wounded Palestinians. While Israel states that its “Operation Protective Edge” targets Hamas militants, the UN warns that a vast majority of the Palestinians killed during the operation have been civilians, including dozens of children.
While photos and videos have circulated around the world described as show the conflict’s impact on Israelis and Palestinians, not all of them are what they appear to be. The distribution of false images is a pattern we’ve seen before, especially when political divides lead many to trust their social networks more than news outlets. Thousands of people have shared disturbing videos of bloodshed on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag, #FreePalestine, when the videos are in fact from the war in Syria.
To check the authenticity of videos that have been shared on your social networks, see this tipsheet on Authenticating Open Source Video. For the latest verified citizen videos from Gaza and Israel, see this playlist on the Human Rights Channel, which works with Storyful to verify citizen footage before it is featured.
Costa Rica: Violence When an Indigenous Community Asserts Land Rights
On July 5, while the rest of the country was engrossed in Costa Rica’s first World Cup semifinal match, a reported group of 80 armed farmers attacked a group of indigenous Bribrí people who had come to reclaim their land. According to Costa Rica’s indigenous law, indigenous tribes are allowed to reclaim land that was formerly theirs, however the process of doing so has resulted in violence between indigenous groups and farmers. As activists attest in the above video, farmers came to their settlement with molotov cocktails that they threw at the settlement, sparking a fire and causing the activists to flee. They also say that the local police did not attempt to enforce the law and protect the indigenous settlers. Since then, The Tico Times reports that government mediators negotiated an agreement between the two sides which they hope will maintain peace while the government investigates who can rightly claim ownership over the land.
Kenyans Displaced by Post-Election Violence Demand Recognition, Compensation
More than six years after Kenya’s post-election violence left more than 1,000 people dead and 600,000 Kenyans displaced, many of the victims of that violence are still seeking recognition and compensation. In Western Kenya, hundreds of IDPs rallied through the streets to assert their grievances before the community and local officials. “I am urging the government to give us compensation,” says one woman, who was displaced from her land in the post-election violence. “We are staying in rental houses. We have no food. We have nothing.” Hundreds of IDPs protested in Nyamira to demand recognition, as they feel their rights as internally displaced peoples have been neglected by every successive government since 2008.
Photo: Video still from Youtube user Iyad Suleiman of a bombing in Gaza.