Deadly Standards: Bloody Days in Jenin Vs. Tel Aviv

The media marked a grisly record yesterday. “At least 4 Palestinians killed, dozens wounded in one of year’s deadliest Israeli West Bank raids,” as CNN’s headline put it.

The Associate Press likewise cited the Israeli military’s raid in the West Bank city of Jenin as the “deadliest episode” this year, reporting in the first paragraph (“Israeli raid leaves four Palestinians dead in West Bank camp,” Majdi Mohammed):

At least four Palestinians were killed and 44 wounded during an Israeli military raid Wednesday into the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported, marking the deadliest episode since Israel escalated a crackdown on the occupied territory earlier this year.

CNN, for its part, also opened its story by highlighting the record number of fatalities in a year marked by many Palestinian deaths:

At least four Palestinian men were killed and 44 wounded during an Israeli military raid and heavy clashes in Jenin Wednesday morning, Palestinian officials said, making it one of the deadliest days in the West Bank this year, which has already seen over 100 Palestinians killed.

It’s a noteworthy data point. But it also gives a highly misleading picture when other relevant information – like the fact that all of the four fatalities were gunmen affiliated with designated terror organizations – is concealed or obscured.

Both AP and Reuters failed to make that basic information clear. By highlighting yesterday’s high number of fatalities and whitewashing the fact that all of them were gunmen affiliated with terror groups, media outlets falsely portrayed Israel killing with abandon, recklessly gunning down innocent Palestinians. 

Indeed, the selective reporting gives sustenance to the false charges of Palestinian Authority’s presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh, as quoted in the CNN story:

[T]he Israeli occupation continues to play with the lives of our Palestinian people, and is tampering with security and stability by continuing its policy of escalation.

Israel is still a state above international law, and that Israel and the United States of America have lost their credibility by demanding calm and the preservation of stability, and on the ground practice all forms of escalation, killing and destruction against the Palestinian people, their land and their holy sites.

Consider, in contrast, the different understanding that emerges when a news agency makes clear even in the headline that Israeli forces killed four Palestinian gunmen, and not simply four Palestinians. Reuters, to its credit, went that route, forthrightly reporting: “Israeli forces kill 4 Palestinian gunmen in flashpoint West Bank town.” The accompanying article began: “Israeli forces killed four Palestinian gunmen in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday . . . .”

In addition, Reuters added: “The Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades factions said four of their gunmen were killed.” That’s information that AP and CNN did not report. (Analyst Joe Truzman observed that both terror organizations claimed the four men, but open source material suggests they were Islamic Jihad members.)

AP captions encapsulated the distorted portrayal of events by highlighting “deadly raids” and ignoring that the fatality was violently attacking troops when he was killed and that he was a member of a terror organization.

Mourners surround the Palestinian flag-draped body of Muhammad Alawneh, killed during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. At least four Palestinians were killed and dozens of others wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported, the latest in a series of deadly Israeli operations in the occupied territory. (AP Photo/ Majdi Mohammed)

(Alawneh, killed as he was attacking Israeli troops, was a member of the Palestinian security forces. In other words, his job was meant to prevent incidents like the violent attack of Israeli troops; not participate in them. While the AP article noted Alawneh’s position as a security officer, the captions did not.)

An Agence France Presse caption showed particular audacity in concealing the terror affiliation of one of the fatalities, referring to him as an “alleged militant” even as the Islamic Jihad garb draping his body was plainly visible in the accompanying photograph.

It’s true that news highlighting “deadly” and “deadliest” anything (storms, attacks, diseases) is attractive clickbait, tempting journalists and news consumers alike. How peculiar, then, was AP’s reference to a notable deadly attack which conspicuously omitted the fact that the incident in question was “deadly.” About the deadly April 7, 2022  attack in which a Palestinian murdered three Israeli civilians sitting in a Tel Aviv bar, AP initially published this grossly skewed account in the earlier version of the aforementioned article: “Israel identified one of the Palestinians killed in Wednesday’s raid as Rahman Hazam, the brother of a Palestinian gunman who attacked a bar in central Tel Aviv last April and was killed by police.” (Emphasis added.)

According to this butchered telling, the only one to die in that incident was the perpetrator “who attacked a bar” and was himself killed by police. (His crime, seemingly, was shattering a bunch of beer mugs? Smashing a front window?) Even after a couple of beers, semi-sober news consumers who saw this egregiously distorted account would reasonably conclude that the Israeli police used excessive force in killing the bar attacker.
Following CAMERA’s communication with AP, editors commendably amended this passage, which now cites “Rahman Hazam, the brother of a Palestinian gunman who carried out a deadly shooting attack in central Tel Aviv last April before he was killed by police.”
This worrisome episode demonstrates that at AP, not all “deadly episodes” are equal. The death of armed members of terror organizations as they open fire on troops — the “deadliest episode” — is highly newsworthy (so long as the fatalities’ terror affiliations and activities are carefully downplayed or completely omitted.) But the killing of three civilian Israelis enjoying a beer? Until the news agency was called out on it, the only thing deadly about it was the Israeli police killing of the Palestinian gunman who “attacked a bar.”

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