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In its coverage of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, the media focused on settler extremists and exaggerated the threat posed by the opposition to the withdrawal, according to a report published yesterday by Keshev, The Center for the Protection of Democracy in Israel.

The study reviewed all major newscasts on television channels 1, 2, and 10, and reports in the Haaretz, Yedioth Ahronoth and Maariv dailies from August 1-24.

According to the study, more than 600 of the 1,000-plus news items on anti-disengagement protests included important information mitigating the extreme predictions of their headlines.

Keshev director Yizhar Be'er said that Haaretz and Channel 1 provided the most balanced coverage during the period studied.

The study's authors claim that the media played a major role in presenting the disengagement as a national trauma, while reports on the settlers' optimism were downplayed.

The study was funded by the European Union and carried out by a team led by Be'er. The composition of the report was supervised by Dr. Dan Dor of Tel Aviv University. The project is a joint effort between Keshev and Miftah, The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy.