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Israeli-Palestinian Clashes

Error (Ha'aretz, Danny Rubinstein, Op-Ed, 1/28/07): In just the newspapers of this just [sic] last week there was a long series of articles about the settlers of Hebron and Tel Rumeida, the death of the little girl in Anata from Border Police fire . . .

Fact: As reported on page 3 that very day in Ha'aretz, it is entirely unclear whether the child was killed by Israeli border police fire ("Girl allegedly killed by Border Police may have been hit by rock"). According to autopsy results, is just as likely that she was killed by Palestinian stonethrowers.

Error (Associated Press, Paul Garwood, 2/3/05): But in the wake of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s Nov. 11 death, Mubarak–like millions across the region–recognized an opportunity for an end to the cycle of Palestinian-Israeli bloodshed sparked by Sharon’s September 2000 visit to a revered Muslim shrine in Jerusalem.

Fact: The contention that Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount (Judaism’s most sacred site, in addition to being a Muslim shrine) sparked the intifada–passed off in this news article as fact–is contradicted by earlier AP coverage. A March 2, 2001 article from Sidon, Lebanon begins: “A Palestinian Cabinet minister said Friday that the 5-month-old uprising against Israel was planned after peace failed in July, contradicting contentions it was a spontaneous outburst by Palestinians. Communications Minister Imad Falouji said during a PLO rally that it was a mistake to think the uprising, in which more than 400 people have been killed, was sparked by Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in late September” (“Palestinian Cabinet minister says Palestinian uprising was planned”).

Error (New York Times, editorial, 5/20/04): Also, despite widespread international condemnation, Israel persists with its policy of demolishing hundreds of Palestinian dwellings in what looks like a heavy-handed form of collective punishment.

Fact: As New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief James Bennet reported on May 21: “There is no sign of systematic demolition of hundreds of homes, which Israeli officials said last week the army might eventually undertake to widen an Israeli-patrolled zone on the border.”

Error (New York Times, Ian Fisher, 12/20/02): Also today, in the Gaza Strip, an 11-year-old Palestinian girl was killed, apparently by a stray Israeli bullet, at her home near the Egyptian border crossing at Rafah. Witnesses said she was hit in the chest while looking out a third-story window.

Fact: It was not “apparent” that the stray bullet was Israeli. The Los Angeles Times reported this death much more cautiously, stating: “It was not immediately clear whether the fatal shot was fired by Palestinian gunmen or Israeli soldiers. Her family said the bullet came from the direction of an Israeli army observation post about a quarter-mile away. The army said it had exchanged fire about that time with Palestinian gunmen hiding in an abandoned building, according to spokeswoman Capt. Sharon Feingold, who said she had no information about the girl’s death” (“Palestinian Girl Is 3rd Gaza Youngster Killed in 3 Days: The source of gunfire that struck 11-year-old is unclear,” Laura King, Dec. 20).

In reporting the death, AP and AFP both noted that reports that the stray bullet was Israeli originated from Palestinian sources. AP’s Pamela Sampson wrote: “Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah, an 11-year-old Palestinian girl, Nada Madi, was shot to death while watching a funeral from the window of her home, her cousin Mohammed Madi said. He said she was shot by Israeli soldiers” (Dec. 19). Similarly, AFP indentified Palestinians as the source for the claim that Israel was responsible for the girl’s death: “Nadi Madi, 11, from the town of Rafah on the Israeli-controlled border with Rafah, which has become one of the deadliest flashpoints in the protracted conflict, was hit in the chest by automatic gunfire which strafed her house, Palestinian security sources said” (Adel Zaanoun, Dec. 19). 

Because the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Palestinians are so often contentious, it is important to identify allegations as such, and to note their source. Furthermore, unless Mr. Fisher has sources or details beyond the Los Angeles Times, AP and AFP, he clearly does not have enough information to assert the bullet was “apparently” Israeli. The notion that a relative who witnessed the shooting could identify the source of the stray ballistic traveling at such a rapid speed is questionable.