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Media Analyses





Al-Jazeera America (AJAM) Watch for April – June 2016


Update: AJAM discontinued broadcasting on April 12, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern)

April 1–2, 2016 – Al-Jazeera America aired numerous reports on the same topic – Israeli soldier killing a Palestinian assailant on March 24 in Hebron in the West Bank.

Note: The network aired dozens of one-sided reports during March 29 to April 2 (at least) about an incident captured on video. The footage seemed to show an Israeli soldier wantonly shooting to death a Palestinian Arab, Yusri al-Sharif (also known as Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif), lying helplessly on the ground. A different perspective is provided in the NOTE following the transcripts below.

Al-Jazeera America – April 2, 2016 6:04 a.m., 7:18 a.m.
News hour host: "An Israeli military court has ruled that a soldier accused of killing an injured Palestinian man can be detained in a military camp for now. He was lying on the ground injured when he was shot in the head and killed in Hebron in the occupied West Bank. He allegedly attacked an Israeli. Charges against the soldier have been reduced from murder to manslaughter."
 
Al-Jazeera America – April 1 5:20 a.m.
News hour host: "An israeli soldier accused of killing an injured Palestinian man will stay in detention until the outcome of a court hearing on Friday. He was shot in the head and killed. He was lying on the ground having been wounded after allegedly attacking an Israeli."
 
Al-Jazeera America – April 1 teasers 9:16 a.m., 10:00 a.m. , 11:00 a.m.
Host: "Also ahead - an Israeli military court releases a soldier accused of killing a Palestinian, to a military camp"
 
Al-Jazeera America – April 1 11:06 a.m.
Host: "An Israeli military court has ruled that an Israeli Soldier accused of killing a Palestinian man can be moved to open detention in a camp. He was lying on the ground after being severely wounded following an alleged attack on an Israeli man. Joining us now is ... to tell us more about what happened."

Reporter: "Well, we heard from the Israeli military's chief prosecutor. He tried to appeal the decision made by the judge late last night to send the soldier into what's called open arrest. He'll be at a military base, but unconfined. The chief prosecutor, the points he made to try to get the soldier to remain in detention. He said that the terrorist posed no threat, these are his words, but however many movements the terrorist made at the scene, none of the people were alarmed and this speaks volumes, and he criticized the soldier for saying that he kept changing his testimony, and he wouldn't reenact the scene. This is missing when they asked it of him. And this raised doubts about the credibility of the offenses, to put it mildly... And the soldier is released into open arrest and the next court hearing will be on Tuesday."

Host: "And given the context of it all, given the upsurge in the tensions in the region, what is the significance of this?"

Reporter: "Well, the significance of this video is that it captures a moment, unlike any other like we have seen. What happens, you have the attack, and you have two Palestinian men stabbing, an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded. The soldiers shot both of the men. One was killed. And the 21-year-old was shot and was lying wounded on the ground. Even the army spokesperson came out in the last few days, saying that the army adhered to protocols when it came to neutralizing the terrorists, but when it came to moral and ethical values, he said this was a grave incident. What we see on the video, moments after, you see the Palestinian lying on the ground, and you see the settlers milling around, and we looked at the video and met with the man who shot it, and it was uploaded to the Internet.

And it's a very casual scene, and all of a sudden, you have a soldier walking to the back of the screen, and appearing to speak to a settler, and he takes something out of his hand which appears to be a hat. And he takes his weapon and it takes five seconds to shoot the Palestinian in the head. It seems very unprovoked and with all of the protocols, there was no reason for him to do that. We have criticism high up from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and not saying that the soldier is a hero, but he's a soldier gone wrong. And criticizing the soldier, a lot of support from the army. It's an incredibly sensitive issue, and the Orthodox [Jewish] community, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, all serving, and that's why you have the family network almost when it comes to the army. So it's an incredibly intense debate, and again, the soldier released from prison, something that the prosecution did not want, but the trial continues and the army accused him, looking into the accusation of murder, and that has now been downgraded to manslaughter."

Al-Jazeera America – April 1 11:30 a.m.
Host: "An Israeli military court is accusing a soldier of killing a Palestinian man. He was shot in the head in Hebron in the occupied West Bank last week."
 
Al-Jazeera America – April 1 12:00 Noon
Host: "Israeli soldier accused of unlawfully killing a Palestinian is moved from detention."
 
Al-Jazeera America – April 1 12:16 p.m. – The story is grouped with the day's top news items and allotted much more time:
 
Host: "Turkey, and Ankara with the European Union. Amnesty international has accused Turkey of forcibly returning Syrian refugees back to the war-torn country. Barack Obama has announced that 102 nations have ratified a treaty on the protection of nuclear material. He was speaking at a summit in Washington D.C. An Israeli military court has ruled that a soldier, accused of killing an injured Palestinian man, can be moved. Yusri al-Sharif was shot in the head and killed in Hebron in the occupied West Bank, he was lying on the ground after allegedly attacking an Israeli. The charges have been reduced from murder to manslaughter.

The chief military prosecutor appeared in court today to try to fight the decision by the judge to release the soldier into open arrest, which is he'll go to a military base, and to read you quotes that we heard from him inside of the session, the videos and the testimony indicate the neutralized terrorist posed no threat. These are military words, but he said however many movements that the terrorists made at the scene, many people, including those standing next to him were not alarmed and this speaks volumes. The soldier said that he felt threatened and his colleagues were threatened by the 21-year-old Palestinian who was lying on the ground, and he had been shot and incapacitated but he believes that he had the potential to carry out another attack, in terms of having explosives on him. But the prosecution is making it clear that they were not buying this, and they believe that he should remain in custody. But that has not happened. He's in open arrest in a military base, and he will appear in court again on ..."

Al-Jazeera America – April 1 2:16 p.m., 3:13 p.m. teasers
Host: "Also, still to come on the program, an Israeli military court rules on a soldier accused of killing an injured Palestinian man."
 
Al-Jazeera America – April 1 2:25 p.m., 3:19 p.m., 5:22 p.m, 10:09 p.m.
Host: "An Israeli military court has ruled that a soldier accused of killing an injured Palestinian man can be moved to open detention in a military camp until his next court appearance. Yusri al-Sharif was shot in the head and killed in Hebron in the occupied West Bank. He was lying on the ground having been wounded after allegedly attacking an Israeli. Charges against the soldier have already been reduced from murder to manslaughter. Reporter Stephanie Dekker has more now from west Jerusalem."

Reporter: "Israel's chief military prosecutor appeared in court to try and fight the decision by the judge to release the soldier into open arrest. He will go to a military base unconfined but unarmed. His appeal failed, but just to read quotes from him inside the session, the chief military prosecutor said that the videos and testimony indicate the neutralized terrorists pose no threat. This is military words. Also he said however many movements the terrorists made at the scene, none of the people including the commanders standing next to him were alarmed, and this seems volumes. This has to do with the defense of the soldier that says he felt threatened and his colleagues were threatened by the 21-year-old Palestinian on the ground. He was shot and incapacitated. He had explosives on him or something like this. The prosecution makes it clear they weren't buying this, and therefore they agreed he should remain in custody. He's now in open arrest in the military base and will appear in court again on Tuesday."

NOTE: Many of the approximately two dozen Al-Jazeera reports (March 29 to April 2) covering an incident involving an Israeli soldier killing a Palestinian assailant, Yusri al-Sharif (also known as Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif), on March 24 in Hebron in the West Bank seem to  imply (especially in the March 29 reports by Al-Jazeera's Stephanie Dekker) that Israeli soldiers regularly initiate violence against Palestinian Arabs rather than respond to it. Many of the reports fail to point out clearly that al-Sharif was killed only a few minutes after he stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier. The reports also omit
that Al-Sharif's attack on the Israelis was unprovoked. They repeatedly characterize al-Sharif as an “alleged attacker” thus suggesting that the soldier might have killed an innocent person.

An analysis of the incident has been provided by Stephen M. Flatow of New Jersey, an attorney and author. He is the father of Alisa Flatow who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. Flatow writing in the Jewish Press weekly newspaper (April 1) noted in his article “How To Lie About Israel” that

We know what happened next because within hours of the incident [killing of al-Sharif] there were multiple videos of it posted on YouTube. The terrorist lay on the ground, wounded but not dead. He was still moving [therefore he still posed a threat]. He was wearing a coat, even though Hebron was in the midst of a heat wave; it was 77 degrees [Fahrenheit] that day. On the videos, you can see what appears to be a bulge in the coat.

The medics who were treating the wounded soldier can be heard shouting that the terrorist might have a suicide bomb strapped to him. On one video, there is a voice – it could be that of a soldier or a medic – yelling, “It looks like he has a bomb on him. Until a sapper comes, nobody touches him!” Then you hear a medic yelling, “That terrorist is still alive, the dog! Don't let him attack us!”

[…]

[S]tandard Israeli Army procedure is for a soldier to assume that a wounded terrorist might have a concealed bomb.

Meanwhile, the IDF investigation was continuing.

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