TEL AVIV — In yet another example of biased news media coverage of events here, a widely circulated Associated Press article referred to Hamas’s orchestrated, violent assault on Israel’s borders as “this week’s mass killing of Palestinians by Israel in Gaza.”
The article further smeared the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) by claiming that Israel used “disproportionate live fire against unarmed protesters, killing dozens.”
The article seeks to outline the different powers vying for regional control and their connections to recent events.
The paragraph that mentions the Hamas assault states (emphasis added):
The ongoing wars in Syria, Yemen, this week’s mass killing of Palestinians by Israel in Gaza, Turkish-Kurdish hostilities, and the potential for an all-encompassing war sparked by an Iranian-Israeli conflagration in Syria or Lebanon, all have tentacles that reach across borders and back again.
Hamas’s campaign this week openly sought to breach the Israeli border with the goal of murdering Jews. Yet, Fakahany chose to frame the events by not focusing on the reason Israel needed to defend its borders, but by instead describing the casualty count as “this week’s mass killing of Palestinians by Israel in Gaza.”
Hamas claims 60 Palestinians were killed in the riots. The news media widely cited the “Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza” as providing those numbers. Many outlets failed to report that the ministry is controlled by the Hamas terrorist group that organized the riots and has a vested interest in inflating such numbers. Hamas has a history of exaggerating these claims and using civilians, including children, as human shields.
The AP article did not get into specific numbers beyond generalizing with the “mass killing of Palestinians by Israel” description.
In an interview with a Palestinian media outlet, Hamas official Salah Bardawil stated that 50 of the alleged casualties were Hamas members.
Three Gazans were shot while trying to plant explosive devices at the border fence with the goal of blowing up the barrier, while others were killed attempting to open fire on Israeli soldiers, the IDF said. Israel has identified a total of 24 casualties as members of Gaza terrorist groups.
In the following paragraph, Fakahany goes on to claim Israel shot “unarmed” Palestinian “protesters” (emphasis added):
Israel is bolstered by unprecedented support from U.S. President Donald Trump. Israel is determined to suffocate the Iran nuclear deal; Trump withdrew from the accord and days later sent his daughter and son-in-law to preside over the U.S. Embassy move to disputed Jerusalem, a move that angered the Arab and Muslim worlds. Bloodshed at the Gaza border may have revived global opprobrium against Israel for use of disproportionate live fire against unarmed protesters, killing dozens; but Trump’s backing gives it reason to feel emboldened. Behind the scenes, Israel is building relations with Gulf nations also opposed to Iran.
Here, the AP is using Hamas claims of “unarmed protesters” as fact, without regard for the IDF’s version that it used live fire only when necessary and that many rioters were armed and attacked Israeli troops along the border. The article did not even bother to mention the IDF’s response to the “unarmed protesters” claim.
Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahhar admitted in an interview that the labeling of Gaza riots as “peaceful resistance” is really a tactic to “deceive the public.”
“When we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public,” he said in an Al Jazeera interview. “This is peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies, and enjoying tremendous popular support.”
“When you have weapons that are being wielded by men who were able to prevent the strongest army in the region from entering the Gaza Strip for 51 days, and were able to capture or kill soldiers of that army — is this really ‘peaceful resistance?’” asked al-Zahhar, whose remarks were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
The Washington Post, reporting from the Gaza Strip during Monday’s riots, related that “the protests appeared to have a more violent edge than in previous weeks. Some young men brought knives and fence cutters.”
Quotes from so-called protesters buried 23 paragraphs later in the Washington Post article betray the violent nature of the riots.
The Post reported on armed rioters boasting about their desire to kill Jews if they can penetrate the Israeli border:
While some said they would abide by official calls to keep the demonstrations peaceful, others talked about their enthusiasm to break into Israel and wreak havoc.
“We are excited to storm and get inside,” said 23-year-old Mohammed Mansoura. When asked what he would do inside Israel, he said, “Whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones.”
Two other young men carried large knives and said they wanted to kill Jews on the other side of the fence.
The newspaper claimed the “vast majority” of “demonstrators” were unarmed, but went on to cite one man who pulled out a gun and downed an Israeli drone:
The vast majority of demonstrators were unarmed, but near a parking area, a man pulled out an AK-47 and took aim at an Israeli drone dropping leaflets. He let off a stream of bullets into the air and brought it down. Later, more gunfire was heard as Palestinian factions argued over who would keep the downed drone, onlookers said.
Just like the AP article, it was not clear how the Washington Post could state as fact that the “vast majority” of “demonstrators” were unarmed. The Post did not relate how it obtained such data.
The Post also reported that organizers may have deceptively sent rioters toward Israeli soldiers using false information:
At a gathering point east of Gaza City, organizers urged protesters over loudspeakers to burst through the fence, telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions, even as they were reinforcing them.
The Times of Israel reported on the numerous other violent attacks during Monday’s riots:
Protesters set tires on fire, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air at several spots along the border, while the military said protesters assaulted the border fence and hurled rocks at soldiers. Several incendiary kites were flown toward Israel. One fell in a field outside Kibbutz Mefalsim, sparking a fire. Israeli firefighters and emergency personnel are at the scene.
At around 4 p.m., the time that the US was inaugurating its embassy in Jerusalem, military sources said Hamas-spurred groups were trying to breach the border at several spots along the Gaza fence.
The Facebook page for the Gaza riots instructed followers on where to breach the border fence and attempt to infiltrate Israeli communities, some of which are located about 1.2 miles from the Gaza border.
The AP’s “mass killing” claim comes as Matti Friedman, who served as an AP desk editor in Jerusalem in 2008, admitted in a New York Times oped that he used a manipulated Hamas “civilian” casualty count, incorporating Hamas fighters in the numbers:
Early in that war, I complied with Hamas censorship in the form of a threat to one of our Gaza reporters and cut a key detail from an article: that Hamas fighters were disguised as civilians and were being counted as civilians in the death toll. The bureau chief later wrote that printing the truth after the threat to the reporter would have meant “jeopardizing his life.” Nonetheless, we used that same casualty toll throughout the conflict and never mentioned the manipulation.
Hamas understood that Western news outlets wanted a simple story about villains and victims and would stick to that script, whether because of ideological sympathy, coercion or ignorance. The press could be trusted to present dead human beings not as victims of the terrorist group that controls their lives, or of a tragic confluence of events, but of an unwarranted Israeli slaughter. The willingness of reporters to cooperate with that script gave Hamas the incentive to keep using it.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.