Israel Dropped a Bomb, And the Media Went Uncharacteristically Silent

A quick post-Gaza operation riddle: Under what circumstances does the hyper-vigilant international media, ever scrutinizing Israeli belligerence, completely ignore Israel dropping a bomb?

Answer: When a senior Israeli security official reveals that Palestinian terrorists were on the verge of opening a dangerous new front against Israeli civilians.

Last week, Shin Bet head Ronen Bar dropped a proverbial bomb, sharing stunning news widely reported in Israeli media but virtually ignored in foreign media outlets. Referring to the three targeted Islamic Jihad leaders killed in opening Israeli airstrikes of Operation Shield and Arrow last Tuesday morning, Times of Israel reported that Bar revealed (“Shin Bet chief: We thwarted PIJ cell in Jenin making rockets to fire at Israel“):

. . . Tareq Izz ed-Din and Jihad Ghanem were arch-terrorists who orchestrated terror in Gaza from the West Bank, while Khalil Bahtini played a central role in rocket fire from Gaza.
Izz ed-Din operated 20 terror cells targeting Israel, he says.

One of these was the cell in Jenin refugee camp that “in recent weeks… had begun producing rockets and launchers” to fire at Israel — in what Bar called “a dangerous precedent.”

The members of the cell were arrested and confessed, he says.

He mentions another cell, thwarted in Ramallah, that was planning to fly attack drones into Israel. (Emphasis added.)

Illustrative image of multiple-barrel rocket launcher in the Gaza Strip (PIJ Jerusalem Brigades’ Telegram channel, May 9, 2023, via Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

The West Bank production of rockets in Jenin and attack drones in Ramallah marks a new effort by Palestinian terrorists to harm Israeli civilians, further raising the risk of bloodshed and violent conflagration. But the international media was virtually silent on this point, with the notable exceptions of Gulf Times and CNN.

Unlike most Western media outlets which ignored this hugely significant story, Gulf Times commendably reported:

Islamic Jihad confirmed the death of the commanders, Jihad Ghannam and Tareq Izzeldeen — who an Israeli military spokesman said orchestrated operations in the West Bank and sought to bring rockets to the city of Jenin — as well as Khalil al-Bahtini who co-ordinated rockets fired at Israel a week earlier.

CNN, for its part, aired a clip from Ronen Bar’s statement and followed up with an insightful interview with Yaakov Katz, in which the former editor of The Jerusalem Post spelled out the implications of this dangerous new potential front:

You know, ultimately, look, just like they were able to create this production assembly line in the Gaza Strip, even despite Israeli efforts to stop it and how impressive a capability they have today. With the rockets there, they could already reach Tel Aviv.

So, do they really need a rocket capability in the West Bank on those mountains of the Samaria that look down into Israel’s coast, which includes Tel Aviv, Herzliya and other parts of the country? I’m not exactly sure if they need it.

But on the other hand, that would be a huge escalation. The reason they don’t have it yet though is because Israel does have operational freedom in the West Bank. And we see periodical operations weekly pretty much inside some of these terror havens inside the West Bank, places like Jenin, Nablus and other parts of the Palestinian territories.

Israel has been able to stop that from happening, but it’s possible, John, like you said, it’s a matter of time when they get that, but that would be seen as another escalation.

Remember, Israel has a rocket threat from Gaza. We’ve had rockets from Lebanon. We’ve had rockets from Syria. The last thing this country wants is another rocket front on its eastern border.

In other words, Israel revealed Palestinian Islamic Jihad attempts to further escalate the conflict with a new eastern front, and the media yawned.

Moreover, in its coverage today on the ceasefire, Agence France Presse, in both English and Arabic, failed to even note the eliminated trio’s responsibility for earlier attacks on civilians, including the firing of 104 rockets and mortars at communities in southern Israel just one week earlier (Gaza ceasefire takes effect after five days of deadly fighting“).

The article elliptically reports:
The current bout of violence erupted on Tuesday when Israeli strikes on Gaza killed three leading Islamic Jihad members. Three other senior figures from the Palestinian militant group were killed in later strikes.
At no point does the article mention that the three were responsible for barrage of rockets targeting Israeli civilians just one week earlier. 
In contrast, the Associated Press has responsibly reported in recent days:
The latest violence erupted Tuesday when Israeli airstrikes killed three senior Islamic Jihad commanders. Israel said the airstrikes were in response to a burst of rocket fire the previous week and that its attacks have been focused on Islamic Jihad targets. But residents in Gaza said homes of people uninvolved in fighting also had been struck. (Emphasis added.)
Similarly, Reuters also provided context about who these targeted Islamic Jihad leaders were and what they had done, reporting: “Israel launched the latest round of airstrikes in the early hours of Tuesday, announcing that it was targeting Islamic Jihad commanders who had planned attacks in Israel.” (Emphasis added.)

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