AP Obscures Gaza Withdrawal

The Associated Press yesterday concealed from readers that Israel has fully withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, giving uninformed readers the false impression that Israel remains in control of the coastal territory. In the May 13 article, “Despite virus, Pompeo talks West Bank annexation in Israel,” Ilan Ben-Zion wrote:

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek these territories as part of a future independent state. In the decades since, Israel has built settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem that now house nearly 700,000 Israelis. Most of the international community considers these settlements a violation of international law and obstacles to peace. (Emphasis added.)

Evacuation of Israeli residents of Tel Katifa in the Gaza Strip, 2005 (IDF Photos, Wikimedia Commons)

Nowhere does the passage note that Israel completely withdrew every last soldier and civilian from the Gaza Strip in 2005, a fact quite relevant to aspirations of a independent Palestinian state.
Uninformed readers would have no way of knowing that Israel currently has no presence in the coastal territory (aside, of course, from the two mentally-ill civilians being held captive in a violation of international law, along with the bodies of two Israeli soldiers).  Indeed, the language “Palestinians seek these territories” wrongly indicates that the Palestinians currently do not have the Gaza Strip, which is in fact ruled by the Palestinian Hamas organization, a designated terror group.
Separately, the same article opens by stating as fact that Israeli army fire killed a Palestinian teen yesterday in the West Bank, though the army has yet to confirm the Palestinian claim. The article begins:
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the country’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank, as Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian teen in a clash with stone-throwers in the occupied territory.

In contrast to the AP, Haaretz repeatedly attributed the information to its sources, as is standard journalistic practice, rather than stating as fact that Israeli fire killed the teen (“Palestinian Teen Killed In Clashes With Israeli Forces During Arrests Near Hebron“):

A Palestinian teenager was killed by IDF fire during clashes at the Al Fuwar refugee camp, near Hebron, Palestinian media reported Wednesday morning.

According to reports, Israeli forces were making arrests at the refugee camp, and clashes broke out between soldiers and young residents. The Palestinian Health Ministry said that Zaid Qaisia, 15, was critically injured by live fire and died of his wounds. Two more young Palestinians were moderately wounded by live fire in the stomach and back, the ministry said. Thousands attended Qaisa’s funeral procession in Al Fuwar on Wednesday morning. 

According to an eyewitness, IDF soldiers entered the refugee camp under the cover of a Palestinian van. Witnesses say that when the clashes broke out, the soldiers used live fire and crowd control measures. (Emphases added.)

Haaretz‘s cautious approach, attributing the information as opposed to stating it as fact, is justified given that the Israeli army has not confirmed the claim. Haaretz noted:

In a statement, the Israeli military said that violent riots broke out during an arrest raid in the refugee camp, “during which terrorists threw stones and boulders, firebombs and explosives during the operation,” and added that gunshots were heard in the area. 

The statement added that forces responded with crowd control measures and live fire, and that a soldier was lightly wounded by the stone throwing. “We are aware of the claim that a Palestinian was killed and that a number of Palestinians were wounded,” the military said. (Emphasis added.)

Notably, when the Associated Press reported earlier this week on an incident in which a Palestinian protester threw a rock on the head of an Israeli soldier, killing him, the wire service was careful to adhere to the standard journalistic practice of attributing information to a source. Thus, that May 12 AP story began:

An Israeli soldier was killed early Tuesday during a West Bank arrest raid when a rock thrown off a rooftop struck him in the head, the military said. . .

The military said 21-year-old Staff Sgt. Amit Ben-Yigal was on routine “operational activity” near the West Bank city of Jenin when a large rock was thrown off a rooftop and struck him on the head. A search was on for the attacker.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said the forces had completed their mission and were leaving the village of Yaabed when the soldier was struck. He said the soldier was wearing a helmet and was quickly evacuated for medical treatment but later died of his wounds.

The headline responsibly attributed the information to its source even as it failed to identify the perpetrator as Palestinian: “Israeli army: Soldier killed by rock during West Bank raid.” 

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