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Middle East Issues

Terrorists Attack and the Media Distorts

Israelis are being subjected to a soul-searing onslaught of terrorist attacks (see list below) in their homes, cafes, pizzerias, markets, wedding halls, cars, highways and border checkpoints. Yet many in the media have given minimal coverage to the terrorism but have focused on Israel's military response.

Often articles include emotional quotations from Palestinians about how they felt during a military attack on a nearby building, while less prominence is given to Israelis' feelings about witnessing or experiencing a terrorist attack. More attention is paid to the bombing of empty Palestinian Authority police buildings, which resulted in no deaths, than to terrorist attacks which kill many Israeli civilians.

A common misrepresentation occurs in reporting of the tally of dead. For example, a Reuters report ("Europe and U.S. Press Sharon to Halt Military Action as 3 Are Killed) carried in the March 10 New York Times, states, "At least 1012 Palestinians and 319 Israelis have been killed since the Palestinian uprising began after peace talks stalled." While the actual numbers may be accurate, it would be far more precise to write: "More than 319 Israelis have been killed – most of them civilians targeted by Palestinian terrorists – while more than 1012 Palestinians have been killed, usually while engaged in violent attacks against Israelis."

Reporters rarely make clear that most of the Israeli victims have been civilians killed in terrorist attacks, while most of the Palestinian dead have been killed as a result of their participation in violence against Israel. The distinction is important and needs to be conveyed. 

It is also indefensible for reporters to glorify terrorists with photos and sympathetic human interest stories about their lives and families (e.g. "Portrait of an Angry Young Arab Woman" by New York Times' Joel Greenberg, March 1, 2002), when so few human interest stories are done about the Israeli victims!

At times the media completely omits mention of Israeli victims! For example, in a March 10 New York Times graphic ("One Week: A Grim Toll in the Mideast"), the horrifying Palestinian terrorist attack in Beit Yisrael, which killed 10 people including 6 children, was described this way: "Saturday, March 2: A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in an Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem." The New York Times didn't find it newsworthy to mention that 10 Jews were murdered, leaving the impression the death of the bomber was the total extent of that day's "grim toll." [Please note, the New York Times did report on this attack elsewhere, but in this particular graphic, which was supposed to focus on the number killed – the Israeli deaths were omitted.]

On March 5, there were four separate terrorist attacks against Israelis resulting in 5 deaths, yet the same Times graphic only mentions one attack which killed 3.

The true extent of terrorism against Israelis is also frequently distorted and minimized by the media when attacks that don't kill anyone are ignored, even if there are numerous injuries and even if the attack had the potential for many deaths. On March 7, there were 3 terrorist attacks, and another 2 terrorist attacks that were foiled by alert Israeli civilians. On a day where there were 5 attempts to kill massive numbers of Israelis, in many news accounts only the attack which resulted in deaths was even mentioned.

The media also frequently distort the news through verbal contortions aimed at avoiding the use of the word "terrorist."

Other Objectionable Terrorism Reporting 

• Headlines: If a terrorist attack has taken place, the main headline should focus on that, not on Israel's response. That can be a subheadline. (The freqent argument by editors that the latest-breaking event warrants prominence over earlier ones can mean Israel's reaction, however cautious, is heavily featured over the precipitating terror assault.) The headline should clearly identify who perpetrated the attack and who the victims were. Therefore, a headline such as the March 3rd New York Times' – "In Jerusalem, Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 9" – would have been clearer had it read, "In Jerusalem, Palestinian Bomber Kills at Least 9 Israelis."

• Similarly, details of the terrorist attack and the victims should come at the beginning of the article, and Israel's response should follow. For example, it would distort events to write that police had shot a man to death, that the man liked to cook and play with his four children, that his injuries were gruesome...and then only at the end of the article to mention the man had just murdered his wife and was pointing a gun at the police when he was shot. Context, cause and effect, are essential.

• Are the photos/video fair? If Israelis have been attacked, were compelling photos of the attack, victims or family of the victims shown? Is the perpetrator clearly labeled a terrorist in the caption? Are the photos/video of Palestinian terror attacks of approximately equal size, number and quality as photos or video of Israeli military attacks? Do the captions make clear that Israeli attacks against Palestinians were targeting terrorists and their infrastructure – not civilians?

• Below is a list of terrorist attacks (and a partial list of foiled attacks) and other violence against Israelis since March 1, 2002. You may find this helpful when writing letters about the severity of the terrorist crisis in Israel. To get up-to-date information about terrorist attacks and details about the people killed, you can go to: (scroll down to "Terror Victims"). The Jerusalem Post also has reliable and timely information.

  • Mar 1, 2002 – IDF soldier Sgt. Ya'acov Avni, 20, of Kiryat Ata was killed by Palestinian sniper fire in the Jenin refugee camp.

  • Mar 2, 2002 – The bullet-ridden body of Jerusalem police detective Chief-Supt. Moshe Dayan, 46, of Ma'aleh Adumim, was discovered next to his trail motorcycle, near the Mar Saba Monastery in the Judean Desert. Tanzim claimed responsibility for the attack.

  • Mar 2, 2002 – Ten people were killed and over 50 were injured, 4 critically, in a suicide bombing at 19:15 on Saturday evening near a yeshiva in the ultra-Orthodox Beit Yisrael neighborhood in the center of Jerusalem where people had gathered for a bar-mitzva celebration. The terrorist detonated the bomb next to a group of women waiting with their baby carriages for their husbands to leave the nearby synagogue. The victims: Shlomo Nehmad (40), his wife Gafnit (32), and their daughters Shiraz (7) and Liran (3), of Rishon Lezion; Shaul Nehmad (15), of Rishon Lezion; Lidor Ilan (12) and his sister Oriah (18 months), of Rishon Lezion; Tzofia Ya'arit Eliyahu (23) and her son Ya'akov Avraham (7 months), of Jerusalem. Avi Hazan, 37, of Moshav Adora, died of his injuries on Monday morning (Mar 4). The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade took responsibility for the attack.

  • Mar 3, 2002 – Ten Israelis - 7 soldiers and 3 civilians - were killed and 6 injured when terrorists opened fire at an IDF roadblock near Ofra in Samaria: Capt. Ariel Hovav, 25, of Eli; Lt.(res.) David Damelin, 29, of Kibbutz Metzar; 1st Sgt.(res.) Rafael Levy, 42, of Rishon Lezion; Sgt.-Maj.(res.) Avraham Ezra, 38, of Kiryat Bialik; Sgt.-Maj.(res.) Eran Gad, 24, of Rishon Letzion; Sgt.-Maj.(res.) Yochai Porat, 26, of Kfar Sava; Sgt.-Maj.(res.) Kfir Weiss, 24, of Beit Shemesh; Sergei Butarov, 33, of Ariel; Vadim Balagula, 32, of Ariel; and Didi Yitzhak, 66, of Eli. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack.

  • Mar 3, 2002 – Sgt. Steven Koenigsburg, 19, of Hod Hasharon was killed and 4 soldiers injured when a Palestinian gunman opened fire near the Kissufim crossing in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic Jihad and Tanzim claimed responsibility for the attack.

  • March 4, 2002 – Soldiers shot dead a Palestinian who approached a roadblock west of Nablus. He was running at them with a knife in one hand and a bag in the other, screaming, "Allah akbar" (God is great).

  • March 4, 2002 – Palestinian forces fired two mortar shells at an Israeli settlement in the northern Gaza Strip. There were no casualties in the shelling.

  • March 4, 2002 – Palestinian terrorists opened fire on a Israeli vehicle near the Kvasim junction located south of Hebron, wounding two civilians.

  • March 4, 2002 – Palestinian forces reportedly opened fire on Hebron's Jewish quarter this evening with light arms and missiles. No one was injured.

  • March 4, 2002 – An Israeli girl was lightly wounded this evening in a stonethrowing attack on her family's car near Ma'ale Adumim.

  • March 4, 2002 – An explosive device was detonated near an Israeli vehicle on the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion ("Tunnels") road. The blast occurred near the el-Khader junction on Highway 60. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged in the blast

  • Mar 5, 2002 – Police officer FSM Salim Barakat, 33, of Yarka; Yosef Habi, 52, of Herzliya; and Eli Dahan, 53, of Lod were killed and over 30 people were wounded in Tel-Aviv when a Palestinian terrorist opened fire on two adjacent restaurants shortly after 2:00 AM. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack.

  • Mar 5, 2002 – Devorah Friedman, 45, of Efrat, was killed and her husband injured in shooting attack on the Bethlehem bypass "tunnel road", south of Jerusalem. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack.

  • Mar 5, 2002 – Maharatu Tagana, 85, of Upper Nazareth was killed and a large number of people injured, most lightly, when a suicide bomber exploded in an Egged No. 823 bus as it entered the Afula central bus station. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

  • March 5, 2002 – For the first time, Palestinians succeeded in hitting an Israeli town with Kassam-2 rockets, injuring an 18-month-old baby in Sderot.

  • Mar 6, 2002 – 1st Lt. Pinhas Cohen, 23, of Jerusalem, was killed overnight near the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, in the course of anti-terrorist activity. Cpl.(res.) Alexander Nastarenko, 37, of Netanya was killed when Palestinian gunmen crossed the border fence and ambushed an army jeep on the patrol road near Kibbutz Nir Oz.

  • Mar 7, 2002 – Arik Krogliak of Beit El, Tal Kurtzweil of Bnei Brak, Asher Marcus of Jerusalem, Eran Picard of Jerusalem, and Ariel Zana of Jerusalem, all aged 18, were killed and 23 people were injured, four seriously, when a Palestinian gunman penetrated the pre-military training academy in the Gush Katif settlement of Atzmona. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

  • March 7 – A suicide bomber blew himself up in the lobby of a hotel in the West Bank city of Ariel yesterday afternoon, wounding 14 in the settlement's first terror attack

  • March 7 – Alert patrons and staff at a popular Jerusalem restaurant, the Cafit coffeehouse, foiled a suicide bombing yesterday. About 50 patrons and staff members were there at the time. An alert waiter pushed the terrorist outside, and with the help of a bystander, disconnected the wires for the powerful bomb.

  • March 7 – An Israeli man sustained moderate to serious injuries yesterday when his car came under fire in the West Bank village of Hawara, south of Nablus.

  • March 7 – Another attempted bomb attack, this time in Karkur-Pardes Hannah. A Palestinian placed a bird cage on top of a car. An alert bystander questioned and then chased the fleeing man, but lost him. The birdcage was found to contain a 3 kilogram bomb.

  • Mar 8, 2002 – St.-Sgt. Edward Korol, 20, of Ashdod, was killed by a Palestinian sniper in Tulkarem.

  • March 8, 2002 – Police shot dead a bomb-carrying terrorist at Beit Hanina, north Jerusalem.

  • Mar 9, 2002 – Avia Malka, 9 months, of South Africa, and Israel Yihye, 27, of Bnei Brak were killed and about 50 people were injured, several seriously, when two Palestinians opened fire and threw grenades at cars and pedestrians in the coastal city of Netanya on Saturday evening, close to the city's boardwalk and hotels. The terrorists were killed by Israeli border police. The Fatah Al Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

  • Mar 9, 2002 – 11 people (Limor Ben-Shoham, 27, of Jerusalem; Nir Borochov, 22, of Givat Ze'ev; Danit Dagan, 25, of Tel-Aviv; Livnat Dvash, 28, of Jerusalem; Tali Eliyahu, 26, of Jerusalem; Uri Felix, 25, of Givat Ze'ev; Dan Imani, 23, of Jerusalem; Natanel Kochavi, 31, of Kiryat Ata; Baruch Lerner, 29, of Eli; Orit Ozerov, 28, of Jerusalem; Avraham Haim Rahamim, 28, of Jerusalem) were killed and 54 injured, 10 of them seriously, when a suicide bomber exploded at 22:30 PM Saturday night in a crowded cafe at the corner of Aza and Ben-Maimon streets in the Rehavia neighborhood in the center of Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

  • Mar 10, 2002 – St.-Sgt. Kobi Eichelboim, 21, of Givatayim died Sunday afternoon from wounds suffered in the morning when a Palestinian gunman disguised as a worker opened fire at the entrance to Netzarim in the Gaza Strip.

  • Mar 10 – Shots were fired at a bar mitzva celebration in the coastal city of Ashdod at 23:00 on Sunday night. A 13-year-old boy suffered moderate-to-serious injuries in the attack. The terrorist was apprehended when his rifle jammed. His accomplices fled to PA territories.

  • March 10 – Shin Bet security service men, along with Border Policemen and IDF soldiers, thwarted two suicide strike attempts in Jerusalem. Three terrorists were killed in the incidents.

  • March 10 – And in another incident last night, an Israeli civilian was seriously injured in a gunfire attack near the Neveh Tzuf settlement, northwest of Ramallah.

  • March 10 – Two Kassam 2 missiles landed last night in Israeli territory north of the Gaza Strip. Nobody was injured and no property was damaged.

  • Mar 12, 2002 – Eyal Lieberman, 45, of Tzoran was killed and another person was wounded in a shooting attack at the Kiryat Sefer checkpoint, east of Modi'in.

  • Mar 12: Terrorists opened fire from an ambush on Israeli vehicles traveling between Shlomi and Kibbutz Metzuba near the northern border with Lebanon shortly after 12:30 on Tuesday. Six Israelis were killed and at least 7 injured. Two terrorists have been killed. Israeli forces are still conducting aerial and land searches for other members of the terror cell.

  • March 12: A 16-year-old Israeli from Hebron was stabbed in the stomach Tuesday morning by a Palestinian. The attacker fled the scene. The teenager sustained moderate-to-serious wounds and was taken to the Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem.

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