Ha’aretz Headline: Where Disputed Arab Claims Come True

For the second time in a week, a Ha’aretz headline in the English print edition reports as fact a disputed Arab claim surrounding the circumstances of a fatality in Arab-Israeli violence.
In today’s English print edition, the following headline appears on page 2:
Many media outlets, such as The New York Times, had earlier reported Israeli military claims that Hamad was engaged in violence when he was killed. Moreover, those who look beyond the Ha’aretz headline  in question to actually read the article learn that the brother of Oudeh Hamad claims Hamad had been collecting scrap metal. That Hamad actually was in fact collecting scrap metal is far from certain, and even writer Amira Hass, known for her harsh criticism of Israel, does not suggest that it is. She writes:

Last Friday, Israel Defense Forcessoldiers killed Oudeh Hamad, a resident of Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip. Hamad’s brother Radaad was injured. Statements made to the media indicated that the two brothers were attempting to damage the security fence marking the Israel-Gaza border. Radaad, however, told a Palestinian human rights organization that at the time they were collecting scrap metal and plastic from a junk yard.

Oudeh Hamad, 27, and Radaad Hamad, 22, are known among Beit Hanun residents as scrap collectors making their living off of discarded metal and plastic. Radaad Hamad told a field investigator from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that on Friday, December 20 at midday the two brothers went to the junk yard east of their town, where the northern Gaza municipalities dispose their trash. They worked for roughly three and a half hours, and the area was very quiet.

According to Hamad, they were 50 meters away from the fence at around 3:30 P.M. when IDF soldiers opened fire on them without first firing any warning shots into the air.

Both the online English and Hebrew editions get it right, as does the Hebrew print edition. The online English headline makes clear that the claim that the fatality was collecting scrap metal when he was killed was just that — a claim made by the brother:
Likewise, the headline in the Hebrew print edition correctly identified the brother’s claim as such:
It states (CAMERA’s translation): “The brother of the Palestinian who was fatally shot last weekend: He did not attempt to damage the fence.” The orange text at the top adds: “The military prosecutor is investigating the circumstances of the incident.”
Moreover, in another striking instance of Ha’aretz, Lost in Translation, the Hebrew edition of the article includes a response from the army. The army’s response, which does not appear in the English edition, states (CAMERA’s translation):
An IDF spokesman responded: “On Friday afternoon a number of suspects approached the security barrier, in an area in which entrance is forbidden, and repeatedly damaged the barrier. The forces in the area made repeated and varied attempts to distance them, and they continued to sabotage the fence, and they carried out the arrest procedure of a suspect during which one of the suspects was injured. The military prosecutor is examining the incident and will accordingly decide whether to open a military police investigation.”
The headline for the online Hebrew edition most accurately reflects the dueling claims:
It states (CAMERA’s translation):
Battle of accounts following Palestinian’s killing in Gaza Friday
The brother of fatality Oudeh Hamad says that the two were collecting iron and plastic in a landfill next to the security fence. IDF: The military prosecutor is examining the circumstances of the incident
Last Week Headline Hyped Claim as Fact
As noted exactly a week ago on our Snapshots blog, another Ha’aretz English print edition headline reported as fact a dubious Arab claim concerning a fatality, this time Israeli. The page 2 Dec. 18 headline stated:
The accompanying article, by Jack Khoury, reported:

The soldier said he opened fire after he identified a suspicious figure only a few meters from the border fence, according to Lebanese security sources. He said the person was making suspicions movements and, being far away from his commanders, he decided on his own volition to open fire at Cohen.

The Lebanese soldier’s version of the events was made available to Israel by UNIFIL, during a meeting between the two sides at the UN organization’s headquarters in Ras Nakura, southern Lebanon, on Tuesday, Lebanese newspaper Al Nahar reported.

As with today’s case, the English online edition carried an accurate headline:
Apparently, a staffer at Ha’aretz’s English print edition who works in the Tuesday evening shift is having difficulty distinguishing between disputed Arab claims from proven fact, even when the distinction is spelled out in the accompanying article.

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