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Media Analyses





The IHT Corrects Error on Palestinian Casualties


The International Herald Tribune wrongly blamed an unexploded Israeli shell for the death of two Palestinians in Khan Yunis last month. CAMERA staff prompted the following correction:
 
Error (International Herald Tribune, Ian Fisher and Steven Erlanger, 6/29/06): Two Palestinians, aged 2 and 17, were reported killed Wednesday while playing with an unexploded Israeli shell in the southern town of Khan Yunis.

Correction (7/12/06): An article June 29 on the deaths of two Palestinians in an explosion in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis misstated the cause. Palestinians initially blamed an Israeli shell for the blast, but Palestinian security officials and Palestinian journalists later said that the blast appeared to be a Palestinian explosive that went off unintentionally.
 
The article, by Fisher and Erlanger, originated in the New York Times, which the next day corrected the record in an updated story, stating:

 

Two Palestinians died Wednesday in an explosion in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis. Palestinians initially blamed an Israeli shell for the blast, but Palestinian security officials and Palestinian journalists in the area said the blast appeared to be a Palestinian explosive that went off unintentionally. (June 30)

 
While the New York Times/IHT alone initially blamed an Israeli shell for the deaths, all other sources, including Palestinians, noted that the deaths were due to Palestinian explosives. For instance, Voice of Palestine radio in Ramallah reported in Arabic June 28 at 13:00 gmt : “Two citizens, including an infant, were martyred and seven others were wounded in an internal explosion in a house in Khan Yunis a short while ago.” The BBC Worldwide Monitoring, which provided the translation, then paraphrased:

 

The announcer-read report is followed by an interview with Adi al-Za™nun, radio correspondent in Gaza. Al-Za™nun says the “martyrs” are “one-year-old Maysam Iyad Mas™ud and her cousin Qasim Muhammad Mas™ud, 23.” Al-Za™nun cites eyewitnesses as saying that the explosion occurred while a member of the family was “carrying a grenade” which exploded inside the house.

 

Likewise, an AFP article June 28, headlined “Accidental grenade explosion kills two Palestinians,” states:

 

Two Palestinians were killed and another seven, including a baby, wounded when a grenade accidentally exploded in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, medical and security sources said.

 

Family members were playing with a grenade in the town of Khan Yunis when it exploded, killing 23-year-old Qassem Massud and his one-year-old niece, Maissam, the sources said.

 

Ha™aretz had a slightly different version, blaming the death on a Palestinian Qassam, as opposed to a grenade, but there too there was no information to support the claim that it was an unexploded Israeli shell at fault. Amos Harel, Yuval Azoulay and Aluf Benn report:

 

Meanwhile, a 26-year-old Hamas activist was killed in an explosion in his Khan Yunis home yesterday. A 9-month-old girl was also killed, and the man™s mother was seriously injured. The explosion apparently occurred while the man was putting together a Qassam rocket.


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