On May 14, 2018, Israel soldiers were confronted not only by Palestinian rioters who sought to infiltrate the country or its border fence with the Gaza Strip, but also Hamas gunmen and bombers. As the New York Times reported that day,
Eight of the dead, the army said, were armed Hamas militants in civilian clothes who tried to storm the fence in northern Gaza and attacked Israeli forces with grenades and pipe bombs before being killed in a shootout. A photograph showed what the military said was an Israeli battalion commander’s armored vehicle pockmarked with Kalashnikov fire. Another three militants were killed while laying an explosive device in the south, the army said.
The 11 armed combatants were among roughly 60 Palestinians killed that day during anti-Israel riots.
So when a July 12 story in New York magazine referred to them as “protesters,” it was clearly inaccurate. The publication corrected its language after contact from CAMERA, joining the Los Angeles Times, which also ran a correction after describing all Palestinian casualties as “protesters.”
The original New York piece referred to “May 14, the day Israeli soldiers gunned down 62 Palestinian protesters near the fence separating Gaza from Israel proper.”
The article now refers to “the day Israeli soldiers gunned down dozens of Palestinian protesters.”
While it is commendable that the publication stepped back from the false claim that 62 protesters were killed — by contrast the New York Times and NPR have insisted it’s accurate to describe armed combatants as “protesters” — it remains misleading to describe those hurling firebombs and stones, and those seeking to damage or cross a highly sensitive border fence, as protesters and not, for example, rioters. The magazine has no problem recognizing riots in other contexts.