AP Adds: Palestinian Killed at Checkpoint Reportedly Attacked Soldier

CAMERA’s Israel office this week prompted improvement of a number of Associated Press photo captions about a Palestinian killed at a checkpoint after the texts initially omitted the army’s highly relevant information that Abdullah Qalalweh attempted to attack a soldier and ignored warning shots in the air to retreat. 

The incomplete captions had neglected to note the army’s highly relevant information, stating only: “The Palestinian health ministry said Israeli forces shot and killed Qalalweh on Friday at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank, the latest bloodshed in am [sic] Israeli-Palestinian flare-up.” 

About this incident, the army reported:

A suspect got out of a vehicle and walked toward a military outpost adjacent to the Shomron Brigade headquarters. IDF soldiers at the outpost shouted and shot live fire into the air. The suspect kept moving and attempted to attack one of the soldiers. Another soldier who was at the spot fired toward the suspect and hit him. No IDF injuries were reported.

In response to communication from CAMERA’s Jerusalem office, AP amended the caption to include the army’s information. The updated captions now note: “The army said it opened fire after he ignored warning shots and tried to attack a soldier.” A large heading alerts AP’s clients to the captions’ change: “ADDITION ISRAEL PALESTINIANS,” and the text opens with the notification: “ADDS STATEMENT FROM THE ISRAELI MILITARY.”

Separately, competing news agency Reuters published a headline about the same incident, harking back to 2015 wave of misinforming headlines and casting Qalalweh as an innocent victim as opposed to an assailant: “Israeli troops shot Palestinian man in West Bank.”

The accompanying article’s opening sentence had rightly noted:

Israeli troops killed a Palestinian man near the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Friday, after the man tried to attack a soldier at a military outpost, the Israeli army said.

Why then did the headline fail to capture this essential information? Many readers don’t get beyond the headline, the article’s most prominent element, and thus the inclusion of this very relevant information in the first sentence does not absolve the headline from noting that key point which changes the whole understanding of the event: as opposed to randomly killing an innocent victim, as the misleading headline suggests, the soldiers acted in self-defense against an assailant.

The Algemeiner, which initially reproduced Reuters’ problematic headline, quickly and commendably corrected today following contact from CAMERA. The corrected headline now states: “Palestinian Assailant Shot During Attack Attempt in West Bank.”

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