At The Washington Post, Israel Is Under the Microscope Again

On February 22, the IDF conducted a daytime raid in Nablus (also known as Shechem), in pursuit of one member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and two members of the recently formed terror group Lion’s Den. As CAMERA has explained in the past, this new Nablus-based group “has posted videos of its attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians and claimed responsibility for a series of shooting attacks against Israelis in the Nablus area,” as well as for attacks on military positions and settlements. As is unfortunately the case when terrorists hide in civilian areas, the raid caused civilian casualties in addition to the deaths of the three targets.

Of course, any death of a civilian in the midst of military operations is a tragedy, and CAMERA does not make light of any of them. However, there is only one country on earth that is expected to conduct its defense with zero civilian casualties, Israel, and no other country faces the level of scrutiny that Israel does.

The Washington Post’s March 10, 2200-word article, “3D analysis shows how Israeli troops fired into group of civilians,” by-lined by four reporters (Miriam Berger, Evan Hill, Imogen Piper and Meg Kelly), exemplifies this phenomenon:

The Post spoke with two witnesses to the shooting, obtained previously unpublished videos of the incident from a bystander and the Israel Defense Forces, and had audio experts analyze the gunfire. A Post reporter collected visual evidence at the scene to reconstruct the incident using 3D modeling software, and reporters also reviewed more than 30 videos filmed in Nablus that day.

And more:

To re-create the location in Nablus in virtual 3D space, The Post collected more than 1,000 photos and geospatial data of the site. This data was processed in photogrammetry software Metashape and exported as a scaled 3D mesh. The Post then used perspective plotting tools alongside available location and camera lens metadata from the collected photographs and videos to add virtual cameras into the scene, matching the perspective of key visuals from different angles, and assisting in the accurate modeling of the site.

The Post added a commercially built, scaled 3D model of a Wolf armored personnel carrier to the environment, embedding a camera inside that allowed the range of visibility from inside the vehicle to be determined as it moved through the scene.

Did you catch all of that?

In what other situation has The Washington Post ever devoted this level of resources to an investigation in this region? To the Palestinian Authority’s support for, and incitement of, anti-Jewish violence? To Hamas’s practice of using human shields while attacking civilians—a double war crime?

Nor does The Post devote similar resources to Israeli victims of terror attacks, even though the paper itself confirmed in 2018 the existence of the Palestinian Authority’s policy of providing financial rewards to those who kill or maim Jews in terror attacks, known as “pay-to-slay.” Because they know that they – or their families, should they become “martyrs” – will be rewarded by the Palestinian Authority government, Palestinian terrorists are de facto government actors and should be covered the same way that a newspaper covers a military or police force. But last week, when Devorah Paley, a mother of two sons, Yaakov Yisrael Paley, 5, and Asher Menachem Paley, 7, who were killed in a car ramming attack, gave birth again, the Post did not see fit to cover it at all. Nor did the Post cover it when the two slain boys’ father, also injured in the attack, left the hospital and visited their graves. 

At The Washington Post, it’s always Israel that is under the microscope. But despite the incredible amount of resources that went in to this “investigation,” as is most often the case, the biggest problem with The Post’s article is what it leaves out – any context to explain to the reader the full picture of what is occurring in the West Bank today.

As is typical, the Washington Post’s account omits much of the context in which the IDF must operate. The Post could have highlighted that the February raid came amid a rise in deadly attacks against Israeli civilians as the Palestinian Authority seems to be gradually losing control of the West Bank. The reporters chose instead to obscure these problems, writing, “the raid came amid a rise in deadly Israeli military incursions unseen in the occupied West Bank since the end of the most recent Palestinian uprising in 2005.” The cause of the rise in military operations, however, is invisible to the reader.

As the Meir Amit Information Center for Intelligence and Terrorism explains, the February 22 raid quickly became chaotic:

At the same time as the surrounding of the house [where the three wanted men were], clashes began between the forces and armed Palestinians who gathered at the site and in other locations in the city. They shot at the troops, threw stones and threw explosive devices and Molotov cocktails. The forces responded with massive fire. In those incidents another eight Palestinians were killed and many were injured. Of the dead, six were members of the Lions’ Den organization, of which two were operatives of the military arm of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, one was an operative of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Battalions and three were Lions’ Den operatives.

(Translation by CAMERA UK.)

But The Post focused narrowly only on Israeli actions, giving short shrift to the wider context.

The paper reports that “the operation targeted two members of an armed group called the Lions’ Den and a member of Islamic Jihad who were planning to carry out attacks against Israelis in the ‘immediate future,’ the military said,” (emphasis added) making it seem like the IDF was acting on a danger that was merely hypothetical. But the danger these men posed was not merely hypothetical – they had carried out shooting attacks in the past. The Post, however, does not see fit to include that information.

Screen capture from video, showing the view from inside the Israeli military vehicles

Regarding the main shooting incident on which this major investigation is focused, The Post does explain that “a man on the sidewalk is seen extending his arm toward the passing Israeli vehicles,” but claims, “the videos reviewed by The Post do not clearly show whether the man had a gun or fired, and none of the witnesses interviewed by The Post said they saw a gunman fire at the Israelis.” But again, they’ve omitted the crucial point: Palestinians living in the West Bank cannot speak freely to journalists. If they had seen such a thing, would they tell American journalists? That’s anyone’s guess. In the absence of reliable eyewitness testimony, The Post uses speculative statements by people who were not actually at the scene, but who are presented to the reader as experts, to dispute the IDF’s claim that someone shot at the vehicle. The Post also downplays the large crowd of people who were throwing objects at the Israeli military vehicles, something the reader would only fully understand from watching the embedded videos.

Of course, the opinions of biased, anti-Israel groups are also included – no less than three. Breaking the Silence, Amnesty International, and Defense for Children International-Palestine all are asked to weigh in, though none of those interviewed were present at the incident. Nor is The Post up front about the nature of these groups. Breaking the Silence, for example, is described by The Post as, “a group of Israeli army veterans who served in the Palestinian territories and oppose the occupation.” The Post doesn’t tell readers that, according to its own website, “over 50% of [BtS] funding last year came from foreign governmental entities.” Most of those are European but the group also gets significant funding from private American foundations. It’s disingenuous to portray the group as an Israeli one, as The Post does, when the bulk of its funding comes from abroad. Nor does The Post disclose that DCI-P has documented ties to the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or that Amnesty has come under fire from the ADL for its “hostility … towards Israel and its supporters.”

The outlet tells readers that “Israeli forces killed 71 Palestinians in the West Bank, including 13 children, between Jan. 1 and March 7, according to the last available figures provided by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Israeli forces killed 146 Palestinians in the West Bank in 2022, and 75 in 2021. At least 14 Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians so far this year.” Why does this article detail the number of Palestinian children killed, but not the number of Israeli children killed? That number is three – two of whom, as noted above, were brothers: Asher Natan, age 14, Yaakov Yisrael Paley, age 5, and Asher Menachem Paley, age 7. And why does The Post conceal from readers that all but one of the Israelis killed were civilians? Again, The Post’s reporters made these choices.

CAMERA isn’t in a position to say whether The Post’s conclusions about the shooting are accurate – though the Elder of Ziyon blog raises some interesting criticisms. The Post’s article ultimately conceals more than it reveals about the events on which it purports to be reporting. The only thing one can know for sure after reading it, is that the paper is obsessed with finding Israeli wrongdoing.

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