Reuters Reporting Goes South, Falsely Claims Israel Ordered Palestinians in Rafah to Evacuate Southward

Feb. 12 UPDATE:

Reuters Corrects

In response to communication from CAMERA's Israel office, Reuters yesterday corrected the video, removing the erroneous claim that residents of Rafah have been evacuated to the south. See below for a detailed update.

Reuters coverage of Israel's war against Hamas went south this weekend, with a video falsely reporting that Israel has ordered the evacuation of over one million Palestinians in Rafah southward. Rafah is right up against the Egyptian border. In other words, any evacuation of Palestinians in Rafah further south would mean evacuation into Egypt. Egypt has been abundantly clear that it will not tolerate in way, shape or form the displacement of Palestinian refugees onto its territory. Israel has certainly not ordered the evacuation of Palestinians into Egyptian land.

The Feb. 11 Reuters video, "Could Palestinians be displaced en masse from Gaza," opens with the false reporting: "Israeli forces are gearing up for a ground assault in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and have ordered Palestinian residents there to move ever further south." 

While an IDF operation in Rafah is apparently in the cards, there have not yet been any evacuation orders for Rafah – southward or anywhere. As Reuters itself elsewhere ("Palestinians brace for Rafah assault, Israel promises evacuation"):

Four months into the war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said it had ordered the military to develop a plan to evacuate Rafah and destroy four Hamas battalions it says are deployed there.

Haaretz likewise reported:

The Prime Minister's Office said in a statement issued Friday and updated Saturday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the Israel Defense Forces and the defense establishment to submit to the cabinet a combined plan for both the evacuation of the civilian population in Rafah, and the destruction of the four remaining Hamas battalions in the city.

The evacuation plans for Rafah will reportedly involve movement north, and certainly not south into Egypt. As The New York Times reports today:

Mr. Netanyahu, in excerpts from an interview with ABC News, said that he agreed with U.S. officials that “safe passage” must be provided to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians who have taken shelter in Rafah. He said, without giving specifics, that Israel was “working out a detailed plan” to move Gazans to areas north of Rafah. ABC is set to broadcast the full interview on Sunday morning. [Emphasis added.]

In addition to YouTube, the erroneous video appears alongside the above linked Reuters story which does correctly report that Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered the military to develop an evacuation plan for Rafah – and not that Israel ordered evacuation of Rafah's residents to the south.
CAMERA has contacted Reuters to request a correction. Stay tuned for an update.

Feb. 12 Update: Reuters Corrects

In response to communication from CAMERA's Israel office, Reuters yesterday republished the video, removing the erroneous claim that residents of Rafah have been evacuated to the south. The corrected narration now states that residents of the Gaza Strip have been ordered to evacuate towards the south over the course of the war:

Israel has ordered Palestinian residents to move ever further south over the course of the war, but now there's nowhere obvious to go.

The erroneous video on Reuters' YouTube channel is now unlisted, and has been replaced with the corrected video at this new link. Text accompanying the new video prominently alerts readers that a correction was made, stating: "This is a correction of a previous video containing an error." Finally, while the updated headline notes the correction, it still falsely suggests that a displacement of Gazans to outside of the coastal territory is possibly in the works, stating: "CORRECTION: Could Palestinians be displaced en masse from Gaza?"  

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