Last Friday 30,000 Palestinians gathered at Gaza’s border with Israel in a so-called “March to Return.” The event was organized and supervised by Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip. Hamas, whose charter and more recent policy platform call for Israel’s destruction, has fought three wars with Israel since seizing control of the Strip in 2007. During what would accurately be characterized as a riot – or even an armed incursion attempt – people threw firebombs, rolled burning tires towards Israeli soldiers, attempted to breach the border, and in at least one case even fired on Israeli soldiers.
The Washington Post ran three articles describing the event and its aftermath, and an “Analysis” by foreign affairs reporter Ishaan Tharoor (under the inflammatory headline: “For Israel, there’s little political cost to killing Palestinians”).The four pieces accept Hamas claims as true while treating Israeli claims with skepticism, and mislead Post readers through omissions.
Hamas has a track record of using human shields in order to deter Israeli responses and to then seek to delegitimize Israel in international forums. The terror group made use of this tactic in Friday’s event. Although Hamas claimed it was staging a peaceful protest, members of its military wing were present, and rocks, burning tires, and even, in at least one instance, gunfire, were involved. But the media – especially the Washington Post– helped serve Hamas’ objectives by omitting crucial information and by uncritically repeating claims by the terror group and those living under its brutal rule.
“For Israel, there’s little political cost to killing Palestinians,”April 2
The Post‘s World Views columnist Ishaan Tharoor’s “For Israel, there’s little political cost to killing Palestinians,” is probably the most egregious case. As the headline indicates, Tharoor dispenses with any pretense of objectivity or fairness. He claims, “Israeli soldiers killed at least 15 Palestinian protesters and wounded hundreds more on Friday.” Yet Tharoor fails to mention – in more than 1,150 words – that Hamas itself has acknowledged that at least five of these individuals were Hamas terrorists. The Israeli Defense Forces identified another five as also belonging to a terror group. Pictures of these men in Hamas garb were widely distributed and available by the time that Tharoor’s article was posted.
Tharoor falsely claims “the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered neither sympathy nor remorse.” In fact, Israeli officials had dropped leaflets and warned Palestinians not to take part in a Hamas-led operation on their border. Further, Israeli officials expressed regret that Hamas chose to use human shields.
Tharoor’s seeking signs of Israeli regret, while failing to ask if Hamas has any, bespeaks a bias unbecoming in someone who claims to be a journalist. Indeed, no discussion of Hamas’ well-known use of human shields– a fact that Hamas has admitted to and even boasted about – can be found anywhere in his long anti-Israel screed.
In minimizing fashion, Tharoor writes, “Israeli authorities claimed they opened fire in response to protesters who had encroached near the fence, burning tires and hurling stones or Molotov cocktails.” Yet, he fails to mention that video footage and photographs of these violent acts, which corroborate IDF accounts, exist and were available at the time the article was published. In treating them as merely Israeli “claims,” Tharoor implicitly, and without reason, calls them into question.
Tharoor uncritically repeats claims that the march – organized by a terrorist group – was a “peaceful protest.” Yet, top Hamas operatives Ismail Haniyeh and Yehya Sinwar announced that the violent protests marked the beginning of a “new phase in the Palestinians’ national struggle on the road to liberating all of Palestine, from the river to the sea” (a call for the destruction of Israel). Additionally, as the Times of Israel reported on March 30, Sinwar called to “eat the livers” of Israelis – another relevant fact that Tharoor failed to include in his “analysis.”
Tharoor likewise fails to mention that Hamas is a U.S.-designated terror group that has completely ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007. The Palestinians have controlled Gaza since Israel’s unilateral withdrawal in 2005. In their sole democratic election since then, the people of Gaza elected the terrorist group Hamas. The Palestinians do have a de facto state, and it’s one controlled by a brutal terror group willing to use violence – both against their own people and against Israel – to achieve their ends.
Tharoor also omits that Hamas has consistently used aid money to build terror tunnels to attack Israeli civilians. It’s because of the group’s ceaseless activity to destroy the Jewish state that Israel has a blockade against Gaza – and so does Egypt. Instead of reporting this fact, or the fact that even the notoriously anti-Israel United Nations concluded the blockade is legal in its Palmer Report, Tharoor uncritically quotes anti-Israel NGO’s, such as B’Tselem, which has a history of fabrications, and anti-Israel activist Yousef Munayyer who, last fall, tried to blame Israel for the October2, 2017 massacre in Las Vegas, who again place all of the blame on Israel.
Tharoor claims that the peace process is “long-stalled” and that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a “lost shepherd of an all-but-dead peace process,” but neglects to inform readers that Palestinians have been offered statehood in most of the West Bank in exchange for peace on a number of occasions. Tharoor’s “lost shepherd,” himself, President Abbas, refused such an offer in 2008, rejected the Obama administration’s proposed parameters in 2014, and has refused to quit paying PA salaries to terrorists. In fact Abbas even increased the amount that the authority doles out, as recently as last week.
Tharoor’s piece is labeled as “Analysis,” but it’s under the purview of the news desk, not the opinion desk. While even in an opinion piece, such disregard for fact and context would be problematic, in a news piece, even an “Analysis,” it’s unacceptable.
Other Post reports were also problematic.
“‘He had no gun, no molotov’: Gaza families call for investigation into Israeli use of fatal force,” March 31
In a March 31 article, Jerusalem Bureau Chief Loveday Morris and reporter Hazem Balousha betray their bias right in the headline: “‘He had no gun, no molotov’: Gaza families call for investigation into Israeli use of fatal force.”
The body of the article, like the headline, quotes the brother of 19-year old Abdul Fattah Abdul Nabi, although the quote within the body of the article provides more information: “‘He had no gun, no molotov, a tire. Does that harm the Israelis, a tire?’ asked his brother Mohamed Abdul Nabi, 22.” Although the question was made to seem rhetorical, in the context of a riot in which tires are being set on fire and rolled towards soldiers, the answer to it is, “Yes.”
In the video that accompanies the article – which is bizarrely set to music – we see first another man crawling towards the tire on his stomach. The fact that he is on his stomach shows awareness of the danger of his action. In another video of the same incident filmed from a different angle, posted by Quds News Network, bystanders can be heard shouting “Allah Hu Akbar.” Eventually Abdul Nabi runs towards the first man and assists him in retrieving the tire. It’s hard to imagine that they were taking such a risk, or getting such support from their audience, in order to fix a flat.
In this context, the tire is a weapon. But this point is clearly lost on the Post‘s credulous reporters.
Morris and Balousha also wrote of the tent set up by Abdul Nabi’s family, “unlike at funeral tents for dead militants, there were no signs indicating he had an allegiance to any group.” Yet, the Telegraph reported that in the family’s mourning tent, “the largest was a banner from Hamas: ‘The Islamic Movement of Hamas mourns its mujahid martyr.’ The wording implied that Mr al-Nabi had some link to Hamas, although not necessarily to its armed wing.”
The Post reports that Abdul Nabi, “like the majority of Gazans of his generation, had never left the Gaza Strip. Israel has imposed tight restrictions on the movement of goods and people since Hamas took control of the enclave in 2007.” Like other Washington Post coverage, the authors ignore that Egypt, too controls a border with Gaza, which it keeps sealed most of the time. In contrast, not only does Israel truck in thousands of tons of aid to Gaza and supply electricity, Israel also admits thousands of Gaza residents into Israel for medical treatment, including the mother-in-law, daughter and granddaughter of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh.
Finally, the Post’s choice to present an in-depth piece focusing on Abdul Nabi, while ignoring the widely circulated photos of Hamas fighters in their military garb who were also killed during Friday’s riot, speaks volumes.
“No inquiry into Gaza border deaths, says Israeli defense minister,” April 1
“No inquiry into Gaza border deaths, says Israeli defense minister” also by Morris and Balousha, begins by describing last Friday’s events as follows: “The ‘March of Return’ to mark the anniversary of land appropriation by Israel in 1976 drew tens of thousands of Gaza residents to points along the border fence on Friday.” The impression created by the reporters’ own language, therefore, is that this was a peaceful civilian protest. The Post does also tell readers, “the Israeli military said it adhered to rules of engagement during what it characterized as an attempt by Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, to break through the fence into Israel and endanger its security.” But, the Post itself has already characterized those who gathered at the border as “residents.”
After that, readers can’t be surprised when they read that the Palestinian Authority’s envoy to the U.S., Husam Zomlot, has accused Israel of “indiscriminate murder” and a “crime against humanity.” And, they won’t learn from the Post‘s reporters that as recently as March 25, Zomlot was defending the PA’s policy of paying terrorists – calling U.S. attempts to halt such payments “financial extortion.” It’s not until the 19th paragraph that readers will learn, if they read that far, that “Hamas said five of its militants were among those killed on Friday.”
There are other omissions in this report, as well, such as repeating casualty claims made by “the Gaza Health Ministry,” while failing to note that this ministry is a Hamas entity. The Post interviews several hospital officials and Gazans, but fails to inform readers that these accounts may be influenced by coercion from Hamas. The article acknowledges that both Egypt and Israel have a blockade against Hamas-ruled Gaza due to “security concerns,” but it fails to elaborate and inform readers about Hamas’s stated objectives.
“Fifteen Gazans dead after Israeli army, Palestinians clash at border fence, officials say,” March 30
A March 30 article, “Fifteen Gazans dead after Israeli army, Palestinians clash at border fence, officials say,” also by Morris and Balousha, makes similar errors. The article claims that Palestinians “spurred by poverty and a growing sense of hopelessness, answered calls from their leaders to…face off against the Israeli military,” and that “the Hamas militant group, which controls the Gaza Strip, and other Palestinian factions had called for a peaceful ‘March of Return’….”
Yet, as noted above, Hamas leaders clearly stated their reason for organizing the march. In 2016, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh clearly stated that, “This intifada is not the result of despair. This intifada is a jihad, a holy war fought by the Palestinian people against the Zionist occupation.” Why would these riots be different? Hamas admissions that five of its own militants were killed, moreover, ought to have given pause to anyone repeating the claim that group’s intent was peaceful.
While this report does note that Hamas “uses resources for tunnel construction and other military purposes,” it nonetheless uncritically repeats claims made by the “Health Ministry” – which it fails to properly identify as part of Hamas.The violent rhetoric of march organizers, such as Hamas leaders’ exhortations to “eat the livers” of Israelis go unmentioned.
All in all, the Post delivered a woefully skewed and unprofessional account of the Gaza riots. As similar events potentially unfold, the public has a right to expect more thorough, factual and objective coverage.