Fighting continues in Gaza and Israel today, despite attempts to put into place a cease-fire. Here are the facts, which are known to every journalist covering the conflict: Egypt proposed a cease-fire yesterday that called for an end to “all hostilities” between Hamas and Israel. Israel’s security cabinet formally accepted the cease-fire at 9 AM this morning in Jerusalem, and completely halted its military operation. Hamas, on the other hand, continued to fire nearly 50 rockets at Israel during this hiatus, while its officials Sami Abu Zuhri and Fawzi Barhum and the terror group’s armed Al Qassam Brigades announced they rejected calls to stop the attacks. After six hours of continued attacks against its population centers, Israel announced that it would be resuming its military operation, and hit Hamas-affiliated targets in the Gaza Strip.
Headlines that Have it All
In a headline that captured all the key points of the sequence including its chronology, NBC News announced, that “Israel Abandons Cease-Fire After Barrage of Rockets from Gaza.”
Los Angeles Times headline writers were also on top of the story as it developed, informing readers that “Hamas keeps up rocket attacks after Israel agrees to cease-fire.”
(A headline to a story published hours later did much worse. “Israel resumes airstrikes on Gaza hours after cease-fire attempt,” the newspaper announced before eventually changing that title to to “Netanyahu vows to use ‘great force’ against Hamas after truce fails.” Fortunately, the effective headline remained on the homepage of the LA Times world section, allowing readers to know at a glace that Israel did, and Hamas did not, halt attacks.)
Close, But Not Quite
To Newsweek‘s credit, the lead paragraph did quickly and completely summarize the news for readers: “A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas has failed a mere six hours after Hamas rejected the terms as a ‘surrender,’ and continued to fire rockets. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had accepted the Egypt-brokered cease-fire but with no let-up from Hamas, Israeli Defense Forces resumed their attacks on Gaza.”
A Washington Post headline likewise noted that Hamas rejected a truce, but likewise explicitly mentioned Israeli attacks while only implying Hamas violence. It read, “Israel resumes attacks after Hamas rejects cease-fire plan.”
Headlines That Mislead
Several headlines gave the false impression that the cease-fire failed because neither side accepted a cease-fire, and neither side stopped attacking.
Reuters announced that “Israel, Palestinians battle as Egyptian-proposed Gaza ceasefire collapses.” The headline writer clearly could have done better at capturing the crux of the story, which was explained well by the Reuters lead, “Israel resumed air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after agreeing to an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire deal that failed to get Hamas militants to halt rocket attacks.”
Worst of the Worst
“Israeli airstrikes resume as Gaza cease-fire attempt fails,” Al Jazeera America stated.
At NPR, a headline suggested that Israel’s “resumption” of strikes came in a vacuum, and thus was responsible for the failure of a cease-fire chance: “Israel Resumes Airstrikes On Gaza, As Cease-Fire Chance Slips Away.” (The web address of NPR’s piece — ceasefire-proposal-gets-israel-s-ok-rocket-strikes-persist — suggests that they may have initially gotten the headline right.)
ABC‘s headline was as partisan as it was pithy: “Israel Resumes Gaza Bombing Campaign.”
ntending to keep it. The newspaper slyly manipulated the facts, declaring “Israel resumes air strikes on Gaza after agreeing truce.”