The New York Times story, Cease-Fire in Gaza Expires, and Strikes Resume, covering the formal end of the 72-hour ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, was yet another illustration of the paper’s seeming inability to cover Israel fairly and accurately.
Unlike most other Times reports on the conflict, this one did eventually reflect most of the relevant information, however the headline and the lead – the most widely read part of any story – were blatantly deceptive.
The headline made it seem that Israel and Hamas acted similarly, that the ceasefire ended and both sides stated shooting at each other, a false narrative that the lead only reinforced:
A three-day truce in Gaza between Palestinian militants and Israel ended on Friday with no progress in negotiations brokered by Egypt to even temporarily extend the lull, and the antagonists resumed fighting.
But as the report itself make clear, that’s not what happened at all. The “antagonists didn’t resume fighting,” Hamas resumed fighting. And it was Hamas that fired first, as the ceasefire was ending, and even before that two projectiles were fired at Israel before the truce ended:
After three days of quiet, Hamas was the first to fire, lobbing rockets and mortar rounds into southern Israel. Some were intercepted by Israel’s missile defense system, while others fell in open ground and a few landed short in the Gaza Strip. An Israeli civilian and a soldier were injured in one of the attacks, according to the military, and a home was damaged in Sderot, the Israeli town near the Gaza border that has often been targeted by Gaza rockets. The Israeli military also reported two launchings of rockets or mortar shells from Gaza before dawn.
And as the Times report further states, Israel had agreed to extend the truce past 72 hours:
The Israeli government statement said that Israel had informed the Egyptians that it was ready to extend the cease-fire by another 72 hours before the rocket fire resumed. “Israel will continue to act by all means to defend its citizens, while making an effort not to harm civilians in Gaza,” it said. “Hamas, which violated the cease-fire, is responsible for the harm to Gaza’s citizens.”
Hamas, of course, refused to extend the truce, and even before it ended had restarted hostilities by allowing its Islamic Jihad allies to attack Israel.
Based on the facts reported in the story by the Times itself, the headline should have been “Hamas refuses to extend ceasefire, resumes attacks,” and the lead should have been:
A three-day truce in Gaza between Palestinian militants and Israel ended on Friday when Hamas rejected Israel’s offer to extent the cease-fire and instead resumed attacking Israel.
Why does the New York Times find this so hard?