ABC Significantly Improves Timeline on Israel-Hamas War

In recent days, CAMERA’s Israel office prompted significant improvement of an ABC News timeline of Hamas’ ISIS-like Oct. 7 massacre of Israelis and Israel’s military response in the Gaza Strip.

A screenshot taken before the article was corrected

The Nov. 7 item by Bill Hutchinson, “Israel-Hamas conflict: Timeline and key developments in month of war,” had initially egregiously erred about the identity of Hamas’ victims, reporting:

Armed Hamas militants, many on motorcycles, storm blockaded areas of the Gaza Strip, shooting atJewish settlers and slaughtering people at kibbutzim and small towns. (Emphases added.)

Not Settlers: President Issac Herzog met with heads of regional councils and residents of Kfar Aza during his visit to the Gaza Envelope, 2021 (Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO)

While some Israelis from the West Bank who happened to be in southern Israel were among Hamas’ victims, it’s completely misleading to state that Hamas “militants” shot at “Jewish settlers.” They shot mostly at the residents — elderly, women, men, and children — of the communities of southern Israel — Nahal Oz, Beeri, Kfar Aza, Sderot, Ofakim, Nir Oz and more. They shot at the hundreds of young secular hipsters dancing the night away near Reim through the religious holiday of Simchat Torah. These party-goers were, by and large, not the demographic of West Bank settlers (often religious to various degrees), although a small fraction of those who attended may have originated from the West Bank. And Hamas terrorists also shot at hundreds of foreign workers (Thai and others) who were employed in communities in southern Israel.

Given that all of these southern towns are well within Israel’s internationally-recognized lines, it is completely incorrect to call their residents “settlers.” Multiple Western media outlets have commendably corrected false Arabic reports which wrongly referred to Israel’s Gaza envelope communities as “settlements.”

Furthermore, ABC mischaracterized members of a designated terror organization who butchered, dismembered, raped and burned many hundreds upon hundreds of innocent civilians  as “militants.”

In response to communication from CAMERA, ABC commendably corrected the sentence, which now states: “Armed Hamas terrorists, many on motorcycles, storm blockaded areas, shooting at and slaughtering people in kibbutzim and small towns.”

A screenshot of Hamas’ claim, now deleted, that all the rockets it fired “land[ed]” in southern or central Israel

Second, the timeline uncritically reproduced false information on the impact of Hamas’ rockets, stating: “Hamas claims at least 5,000 rockets were fired, all landing in southern and central Israel.” In fact, Israel’s Iron Dome intercepted most of the rockets Hamas fired towards southern and central Israel. (The vast majority which Iron Dome didn’t shoot down landed in open areas.) Hamas’ claim that “all” landed in Israel is completely false, and also fails to reflect that a significant percent of rockets that it fired malfunctioned and landed in the Gaza Strip, killing Palestinian civilians there. In response to CAMERA’s communication on this point, ABC deleted Hamas’ unfounded claim entirely.

Speaking of failed rockets, ABC also misled readers by providing only outdated information regarding the blast at the Al-Ahli Hospital parking lot (and not at the hospital itself): “A senior U.S. official tells ABC News that U.S. officials at this point ‘just don’t know where the rocket came from.'” The timeline had failed to update readers with the critical information that since then the intelligence services of the United StatesUK and France have all concluded that a failed Palestinian rocket was the likely culprit for the Al-Ahli explosion, and that hundreds less were killed in the incident than Hamas claimed. The false attribution to an Israeli airstrike caused violence around the region and derailed planned diplomatic meetings for President Biden.

On this point, too, ABC thoroughly improved its coverage. The updated text now rightly adds:

Days later, on Oct. 24, ​U.S. intelligence officials confirmed a preliminary U.S. government assessment “with high confidence that Israel was not responsible for the explosion of the hospital and that Palestinian militants were responsible.” The assessment added “with low confidence” that Islamic Jihad “was responsible for launching the rocket that landed on the hospital.” Some news outlets reported that a U.S. intelligence assessment estimated between 100 and 300 people were likely killed in the blast.

The incident led to anti-Israel and anti-American protests in the Arab world.

Finally, Hutchinson wrote emotively — but not accurately — that Gaza’s residents in the north potentially “face the wrath of 400,000 Israeli soldiers prepped to annihilate Hamas militant units.” While 360,000 reserve soldiers have been called up, they serve a variety of functions including intelligence, logistics, homefront support, handling the northern threat of Hezbollah, serving in the West Bank, identifying bodies and staffing funerals. From, where, exactly did Hutchinson get the data for 400,000 delivering their “wrath,” as he puts it, in northern Gaza?

In the wake of CAMERA’s correspondence, ABC deleted this sentence as well. Editors amended the article on Nov. 10, and an editor’s note at the bottom of the article informs readers: “This story has been updated for clarity.” CAMERA applauds ABC for its responsiveness and accountability.

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