I expect there are already many doctored or staged photos from the press coverage of Israel's Gaza defence. There were numerous provably falsified images and other staged horror for vulturous western news agencies during the failed Lebanon war in 2006. From adding missiles to photos of warplanes in flight, to physically placing soft toys atop piles of rubble, there seemed no limit to what the western media allow in order to make Israel look evil. There's a very interesting analysis on the mere Rhetoric blog .
Even the seemingly innocent "human interest" stories can be, and are, overdone to stir up not compassion for the proclaimed victims, but rage against the alleged perpetrator. Personally I think if you need a journalist's ashen, morbid tones describing a sorry scene to lead you to compassion then I would question your capacity for compassion in the first place. Give me moral clarity any day.
Hamas know exactly how the West works. They know they cannot defeat Israel militarily, but they know how to defeat them politically. They know how to harness the power of every extreme left, human-rights campaigning, fake compassion-spouting, narcissistic elitist who wants to atone for their own sins by standing up for a fashionable, high-profile cause.
Hamas even boast about their willingness to exploit the death of their own people to turn the world against Israel. I have not seen one of these boasts covered by the mainstream media.
Oh, by the way, when I say "their own people" I mean civilian men, women and children. As I write this, Hamas commanders are currently hiding in purpose-built bunkers.
No, this "human interest" approach to such a conflict does not manufacture compassion. It creates rage. Rage against Jews.
Here's an incident recounted by leading US Attorney Alan Dershowitz, in a very clear article on the subject. A salient point from the article:
In one recent incident, Israeli intelligence learned that a particular house was being used to manufacture and store rockets. It was a clear military target...But the house was also being lived in by a family. So the Israeli military phoned the house, informed the owner that it was a military target, and gave him thirty minutes to leave with his family before the house was attacked. Hamas...immediately sent dozens of mothers carrying babies to stand on the roof of the house.
...In this case, Israel did learn of the civilians and withheld its fire. The rockets that were spared destruction by the human shields were then used against Israeli civilians. (Emphasis mine).
UPDATE: Media outlets, including serial Israel-basher The Melbourne Age, ran stories on Israel bombing a UN-run school and killing all those inside, civilians seeking refuge from the fighting.
What really happened? The school was run by UNWRA, the United Nations' relief agency. They are known to be the largest employer of Hamas operatives in Gaza. It was booby trapped with a massive amount of explosives. Of this there is no doubt. Anecdotal reports from soldiers are suggesting that approaching IDF troops received fire from the school.
So, Hamas hole up civilians in a booby-trapped building, assault IDF troops and then stand back and milk the results for world sympathy.
And we still blame Israel.