AP Terms Hamas Attack Tunnels ‘Smuggling Routes’

In an article earlier this week, the Associated Press inaccurately characterized Hamas’ cross-border attack tunnels, leading from Gaza into Israel, as “smuggling routes.” AP’s Matthew Lee and Josh Lederman wrote (“Heather Nauert on the rise as a voice in US diplomatic corps,” March 19):

The moment that Trump canned Tillerson by tweet, Nauert was in a Hamas-built tunnel on the border near the Gaza Strip, on a tour organized by the Israeli military to show U.S. officials the smuggling routes used by militants.

The army is clear that the tunnels are meant for attack, not smuggling. Indeed, in the past, Hamas used these tunnels to smuggle combatants into Israel and kill five soldiers. AP previously referred to the “attack tunnels,” correctly reporting (Jan. 18, 2018):

KISSUFIM, Israel (AP) – Massive earthworks and mounds of sandy soil line the Israel-Gaza border as the Israeli military forges ahead with an ambitious subterranean barrier to detect and prevent attack tunnels from reaching southern Israel from the Palestinian enclave.

Israeli military officials on Thursday touted the secretive project as a major deterrent against what Israel has seen as a strategic threat since the last war against Hamas exposed the extent of the tunnels. Israel has made uncovering the tunnels from Gaza a priority and in recent months has demolished at least three through a combination of intelligence, infantry operations and hi-tech sensors.

Israel began construction of a 40-mile long underground wall last summer, aiming to prevent Palestinian militants from burrowing toward Israeli communities along the border.

Likewise, AP reported Nov. 12, 2017:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned Gaza militants against attacks as the Islamic Jihad group vowed revenge for the demolition of one of its attack tunnels that crossed into Israel.

AP failed to amend its language of the March 19 article, meaning that many media outlets which had picked up the story also failed to correct. Haaretz, which ran the AP story, neglected to correct. Similarly, US News and World Report declined to take responsibility for the AP story on its site, saying that the text would automatically update were Associated Press to correct.

On the other hand, The Times of Israel has commendably corrected the story which appeared on its site. Following communication from CAMERA, Times of Israel editors changed the language to “attack tunnels used by Gaza’s extremists,” as opposed to “smuggling routes used by militants.”

Earlier this year, in response to communication from CAMERA, Agence France Presse removed references to the Hamas tunnels into Israel as “smuggling tunnels.”

For additional Times of Israel corrections prompted by CAMERA, please see here.