Agence France Presse (AFP) falsely claims today that until Israel hit Islamic Jihad fighter Ismail al-Ismar last night, Palestinian groups respected the truce. Ignoring Palestinian rocket attacks launched Monday (Aug. 22), AFP repeatedly rewrites the order of violent incidents that have been carried out since terror groups in Gaza agreed to an informal ceasefire Sunday, Aug. 21.
For instance, the article headlined "Islamic Jihad: 'We will halt rockets if Israel stops raids'" (12:49 PM GMT) echoes Islamic Jihad propaganda, with the reporter accepting as fact the group's false claim:
The truce announced on Sunday night by Gaza's Hamas rulers had been respected by militant groups until Israel chose to break it by hitting a car in southern city of Rafah, killing 34-year-old Jihad militant Ismail al-Ismar, [Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shihab] said.
Since that strike early on Wednesday, militants have fired at least 20 rockets into Israel and another seven Palestinians have been killed in subsequent Israeli air raids, raising to eight the total killed in the last 36 hours.
"The last targeting in Rafah started the new crisis, Israel broke the truce when they killed one of the local leaders of the Al-Quds Brigades. After that, the Brigades answered this aggression," Shihab told the AFP, saying a one-sided truce would not work. (Emphases added.)
An earlier AFP article today also ignored the Palestinian violations of the truce ("Israel targets Islamic Jihad as truce unravels," 10:15 AM GMT), stating:
Rising tensions in and around Gaza kicked off just days after militant groups on Sunday said they would stop cross-border rocket fire, with Israel quietly agreeing to limit its strikes to those caught in the act.
But an air strike on Rafah early on Wednesday which killed Islamic Jihad militant Ismail al-Ismar sparked a flurry of retaliatory rocket attacks, followed by further Israeli raids, rendering the truce agreement practically meaningless.
It's not that AFP reporters were unaware that Palestinians fired rockets on Monday. Notably, there was this AFP report that day ("Seven rockets hit Israel after Gaza factions agree truce," Aug. 22, 8:48 AM GMT):
Seven rockets from Gaza hit Israel on Monday just hours after militant factions agreed an informal truce [sic] after four days of deadly cross-border violence in which 15 Palestinians and an Israeli died.. . . .
Gaza also enjoyed a second night of clear skies, with no air strikes reported.
Likewise, another AFP article the following day (Tuesday, Aug. 23) covered additional Palestinian rocket attacks from late Monday. The article, entitled "Rocket fire rocks Israel-Hamas truce" (1:45 AM GMT), begins: "Four rockets fired from Gaza slammed into south Israel late Monday, without causing casualties, police and the army said, undermining a truce between Palestinian militants and the Jewish state."
The Meir Amir Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center gives a fuller picture of the Palestinian violations of the truce agreement that preceded Israel's attack Wednesday night on Islamic Jihad leader Ismail al-Ismar. Its Aug. 23 report details:
The ceasefire proclaimed by Hamas and accepted by the PRC has not been honored, and on the ground sporadic and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory continues. Since the lull in the fighting went into effect (August 21, 2200 hours), Israel has been attacked with 14 rockets and at least four mortar shells. The rockets fell in the western Negev north and east of the Gaza Strip, and some fell inside the Gaza Strip itself. The time since the ceasefire went into effect can be divided into four periods:
1) Rocket and mortar shell fire on the morning of August 22: Between 0400 and 0800 hours 11 rockets and a number of mortar shells were fired into the western Negev (including the region of the city of Ashqelon). Responsibility for two of the attacks (rocket fire and three mortar shells) was claimed by the PRC.
2) Quiet during the day, August 22: Between 0800 and 1930 hours the ceasefire was honored. During the afternoon, as noted, the main PRC faction (the Al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades) declared it would join the lull in the fighting, and during the afternoon Hamas formally announced that the various organizations operating in the Gaza Strip had committed themselves to honoring the lull.
3) Rocket fire targeting the southern Israeli city of Ashqelon on the night of August 22: Between 1930 and 2400 hours three rockets fell in the western Negev near Ashqelon. There were no casualties; one rocket caused a fire. No organization claimed responsibility for the attack.
4) Quiet during August 23: Since 2400 hours Israel's south has been quiet (as of 1600 hours, August 23).
AFP is hardly the first to cover up Palestinian violence in the hours or days following an Israeli-Gaza truce. In 2009, CNN and Ha'aretz's Gideon Levy pinned the blame on Israel for first violating the pre-Cast Lead ceasefire, despite the fact that Palestinian rocket attacks preceded Israeli actions in Gaza.