CBS’s Biased Article on Jenin Raid Begins With Incendiary, One-Sided Headline

Between the start of this calendar year and the end of May, 20 civilians, among them both Israelis and tourists, and one border police officer had been killed in terror attacks in Israel. As part of efforts to hamper such attacks, earlier this week, the IDF conducted a counter-terror operation in Jenin. It was widely reported to have occurred in the Jenin refugee camp, though the area is a built-up neighborhood in the city, and the vast majority of its residents don’t fit the standard definition of “refugee.” The Times of Israel reported that “a senior [Israeli] government official said that ‘the goal of this extensive operation is to end Jenin’s role as a “city of refuge” for terror….’”

Yet, a Monday headline on the CBS News website read, “Palestinians in occupied West Bank say Israel bombing ‘innocent people’ in raid on Jenin refugee camp.” (July 3, 2023, by Haley Ott.)

The incendiary headline uncritically reflects the point of view of Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, who is quoted in the penultimate paragraph of the article:

But Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called the raid “a new attempt to destroy the camp and displace its people,” according to CBS News’ partner network BBC News. “Our heroic people will confront this aggression that is taking place under the eyes of the international community, where innocent people are bombed by planes. Our people will not kneel and will not surrender, and we will remain in confrontation until this criminal occupation is over.”

(On the neutrality of “CBS News’ partner network BBC News,” see CAMERA’s article here.)

And the July 3 headline was followed up by “Palestinians flee Israel’s raid on West Bank refugee camp as several hurt in Tel Aviv car attack,” (July 4, by Haley Ott) and “Israel ends deadly raid in West Bank Palestinian refugee camp, but warns it won’t be ‘a one-off’” (July 5). Palestinians flee from Israel’s raid, but unspecified people are injured in an attack … by a car? according to CBS editors. Israel’s raid is deadly, but the cause is unimportant.

The July 3 article itself does include some comments from Israeli officials, including Foreign Minister Eli Cohen. CBS’s headline easily could have said, “Israelis say raid targeted ‘proxies of Iran.’” The article also reports that Cohen said, “due to the terror organization and the funds they receive from Iran, the Jenin camp has become a center for terrorist activity.” Yet, editors at CBS made the choice to go with “Palestinians … say Israel bombing ‘innocent people,’” essentially promoting the baseless libel that Israel intentionally targets civilians.

And even the comments from Israeli officials that were included failed to provide the type of concrete details, reported elsewhere, that would have properly put the Jenin raid into context. For example, the CBS article failed to report, as Times of Israel did, that in the week prior to the raid, “Palestinians in the Jenin area attempted to launch two homemade rockets at Israeli towns.”

While CBS did report that the raid began with “an airstrike on a building in the Jenin refugee camp that [Israeli Army spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht] said was being used by militants to plan attacks,” CBS neglected to provide significant detail on the building, which Times of Israel called “a joint war room shared by various armed groups in the city including the so-called Jenin Battalion, which ‘served as an observation post, a gathering place for armed terrorists before and after terror acts, a cache for munitions and bombs and a communications center.’”

CBS further reports that “the Palestinian news agency Wafa said Israeli forces bulldozed roads and a memorial for the refugee camp’s dead,” without noting the reason, i.e., that they were clearing IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). And, in the first paragraph, CBS says that “at least nine Palestinians were killed in the raid,” without noting that “several” of those killed had already been identified as “members of armed groups,” by the time of CBS’s writing. (Two days later, analyst Joe Truzman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies had put the number at at least ten of 12, and the IDF itself said all 12 were militants.)

Even the very first sentence omits crucial information. It reads, “Israel carried out drone strikes and deployed hundreds of troops Monday in the city of Jenin, in the occupied West Bank….” But Jenin is in Area A, over which the Palestinian Authority assumed responsibility under the Oslo II agreement and therefore it is not “occupied.”

From the headline to the last sentence, CBS failed to adequately report on the Israeli rationale for the strike.

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