On June 8, 2016 two Palestinian Arabs murdered four Israelis and wounded sixteen others in a terrorist attack in a Tel Aviv shopping center called Sarona Market. Shortly after, more than a few Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) celebrated the carnage—a fact which most news media neglected.
The terror attacks themselves did received considerable coverage. As CAMERA has noted (“Yahoo News, Russia Today, Misreport Tel Aviv Terror Attack,” June 8, 2016), some reporting falsely implied that “militants” targeted Israel’s defense ministry. The Independent’s (U.K) initial coverage avoided any mention of the perpetrators as Palestinian Arabs or the victims as Israelis or Jews. CNN (Cable News Network) initially put the word terrorist in quotation marks, as if the killers’ motivation was in doubt. The network later corrected.
Yet, with several exceptions, even generally specific reports omitted that the attack was glorified by many Palestinian Arabs. A Lexis-Nexis search of U.S. print news outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, The Baltimore Sun, The Los Angeles Times, among others, failed to show examples of Palestinian celebrations.
Some, such as The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun, noted an Associated Press report that Hamas—the U.S. designated terror group that rules the Gaza Strip—praised the attack as a “heroic operation.” No additional details were provided and the full scope of Palestinian jubilation was not reported. However, such information was available.
In an interview with Fox News on the night of the attack, Israeli Police Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld said, “Unfortunately, within the West Bank area we have seen Palestinians celebrating this attack. Meanwhile here in Israel…we will be mourning for a week over the people that were lost—and we are talking about four innocent people that were shot to death, literally shot and killed at close range for no reason whatsoever.”
Similarly, The Jerusalem Post reported:
“Upon hearing the reports of the shooting, dozens of Palestinians gathered at Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, singing out loud and cheered the gunmen. In the West Bank city of Tulkarm, many young men took to the streets and distributed candies to the local drivers, while in the Dheiseh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem dozens of Palestinians participated in a march praising the terror attack (“Palestinians celebrate terror attack in Tel Aviv, Saudis strongly condemn,” June 9, 2016).”
Palestinian praise for the murderers extended online. The Jerusalem Post pointed to the “hashtags ‘#Carlo Bullet,’ after the name of the improvised submachine gun used in the attack, and ‘#Ramadan Operation’ to laud the horrendous terror shooting.” Another popular hashtag was “#We broke the fast killing them”—referring to the fact that before the attack, the two terrorists broke their fast for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
Salma al-Jamal, a Palestinian news anchor for Al-Jazeera TV tweeted, “The Ramadan operation that took place today is the best answer to stories we have been hearing about ‘peace process’ that some people are trying in vain to revive.”
The Times of Israel reported that Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri falsely blamed “Israeli desecration of the al-Aqsa Mosque and the crimes against the Palestinian people.” CAMERA has previously noted (see, for example “Incitement over Temple Mount Leads to Palestinian Violence, Again,” Sept. 16, 2015) that Palestinian officials frequently use claims of imagined threats to the al-Aqsa mosque—which is located on Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount—to incite anti-Jewish violence.
Echoing Hamas, the Fatah movement, which is headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, released a statement via Twitter saying Israel was, “reaping the repercussions of choosing violence against the Palestinian people.”
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a non-profit organization which monitors Arab media in eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, noted that in his official statement Abbas expressed “opposition to any operation that harms civilians by anybody regardless of the justifications.” However, PMW pointed out that the PA leader didn’t “condemn killing Israelis.” Abbas’ failure to condemn specifically the Tel Aviv murders was, as of late June 9, omitted from media coverage.
News media failure to report Palestinian celebrations of terrorist attacks is not new.
Writing about the aftermath of the Sept. 11 2001 assaults by al-Qaeda, Middle East historian Efraim Karsh noted: “In the wake of the September 11 atrocity, mass celebrations were held in Palestinian towns and cities. The incidents were far from isolated and sparsely attended as reported later by Palestinian apologists. Thousands of people took to the streets, chanting Allah Akbar (God is Great), distributing candies to passersby, and shooting guns in the air to express their delight. To keep these disturbing scenes from world attention, PA security forces confiscated filmed footage and intimidate foreign journalists, news agencies, and television networks. In Gaza, Palestinian policemen detained cameramen who had filmed a Hamas demonstration in which Palestinians carried pictures of [al-Qaeda leader] Osama bin Laden (Arafat’s War, 2003, Grove Press).”
Journalism requires answers to six basic questions: who, what, when, where, why and how? Coverage of the Tel Aviv murders too often avoided reporting who, what and why.