In Siding With Hamas, ThinkProgress Lies About Palestinian Victims

After a rocket slammed into a Gaza neighborhood in early May, killing the pregnant Falastin Abu Arar and her young niece Seba Abu Arar, government officials in Gaza were quick to point the finger at the Israel for firing the rocket, and equally quick to confiscate the rocket fragments from the scene.

In Gaza, of course, “government officials” mean employees of Hamas, an internationally proscribed terror organization sworn to Israel’s destruction. That the Gaza Health Ministry blamed Israel even as it made a point of concealing the evidence isn’t particularly surprising.

What’s more surprising is that ThinkProgress, a progressive advocacy organization, decided to side with Hamas’s account even after Israel denied responsibility for the deadly explosion. A May 5 ThinkProgress headline and article attributed the deaths to “Israeli strikes” and “attacks by Israel,” although the author, Elham Khatami, was aware of and reported on Israel’s denials, which she clearly dismissed.

Hamas is not a progressive group. It has a well-earned reputation for suicide bombings and other war crimes. Part of its war on Israel is fought on the battlefield of public opinion. So it is strange to credulously accept Hamas’s word in such a dispute.

Strange, and risky. Yesterday, Human Rights Watch, an extreme critic of Israel, published a report indicating that “a Palestinian rocket that landed inside of Gaza was most likely responsible for the deaths of a pregnant Palestinian mother of nine and a 14-month-old toddler.” The organization elaborated,

A field worker with a Palestinian organization who visited the site said that unlike at other sites, Palestinian authorities quickly removed remnants of munitions and described damage that make it more likely that the strike came from an errant Palestinian rocket.

Defense for Children International – Palestine, another anti-Israel N.G.O., had previously reported that,

Based on evidence gathered from the scene, witnesses and experts, DCIP concluded the blast was the result of a misfired rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group nearby, and was not caused by an Israeli forces strike.

So both Israel and its NGO critics are on the same page about the tragic deaths.

ThinkProgress, though, never revised its article blaming Israel. Its headline still blares, “Israeli strikes in Gaza kill 25, including pregnant women and children, before ceasefire.” (Notably, the four Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian rockets that weekend are notably missing from the headline.)

The article still opens with a reference to “attacks by Israel,” and an evocative quote meant to underscore Israel’s culpability (and heartlessness):

“I wrapped my arms around my daughter to protect her but the shrapnel injured my hand and penetrated her body,” Rasha Abu Arar said of her daughter Seba, according to Al-Jazeera. “My three-year-old daughter, Rafeef, was also wounded and is currently in the ICU…What is the sin of my children? Did they throw rockets at Israel?”

Rasha Abu Arar can be forgiven for his mischaracterization. A distraught father can’t be expected to act like a journalist, to analyze the impact crater, or to assess the shrapnel left by the ordinance that killed his daughter.

But what is ThinkProgress’s excuse? Their animosity toward Israel has previously led them to play fast and loose with the facts. But to side with Hamas, to misinform readers about the tragic death of a Palestinian child struck hit by a Palestinian rocket so that the American public wrongly believes Israel killed the girl, is more troubling yet.

CAMERA reached out to Think Progress editor in chief Jodi Enda on Twitter. We will update this space if she addresses the organization’s error.