UPDATED: LA Times Ignores Hamas Rockets In Times of Truce

Jan. 21 Update Follows

Jan. 20, 2009 — If Palestinians launch rockets at Israel during a period in which Hamas declared a truce and the Los Angeles Times doesn’t report, does that mean it didn’t happen? For two days in a row, the Times’ Ashraf Khalil, reporting from Gaza, falsely reported that there were no Palestinian rocket attacks during periods that Hamas agreed to quiet.

Current Cease-fire

Yesterday, Khalil falsely claimed:

Before the Hamas announcement, Palestinian fighters fired 15 rockets into southern Israel after the Israeli cease-fire took effect at 2 a.m., wounding one person. (Emphasis added.)

In actuality, as reported by the New York Times, Hamas did fire a couple of rockets after their declared truce:

Palestinian militants in Gaza fired at least 19 rockets at southern Israel during the day, including some after Hamas and other militant groups had declared a cease-fire.

Likewise, Ha’aretz reported yesterday:

Israel ceased its fire at 2 A.M. yesterday, and over the next several hours, Palestinians fired 19 rockets at Israel – including three that were fired after Hamas declared its own truce.

Six-Month Lull

Although Los Angeles Times editors were informed of the error yesterday, a correction has not yet appeared. Moreover, a new error appears about Palestinian rocket fire during the six-month lull in Ashraf Khalil’s article today. He writes that Hamas

had refused to renew a shaky six-month truce that expired Dec. 19 after Israel failed to lift its 10-month blockade, and the group then resumed launching dozens of rockets at southern Israel. (Emphasis added).

In fact, Hamas resumed the launching of dozens of rockets more than a month before — not after — the truce expired on Dec. 19. As the Associated Press reported on Nov. 5, 2008 (“Israeli officials report rocket barrage from Gaza”):

The Israeli military said at least 35 rockets were fired from the strip early Wednesday, but there were was no immediate word of injuries or damage.

Hamas said it fired the rockets.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry reported that on Dec. 17, two days before the cease-fire expired, Palestinians fired more than 20 rockets on Israel. In total, Palestinians fired 190 rockets and 138 mortar shells into Israel between Nov. 4 and Dec. 16. In addition, from the start of the cease-fire on June 19 until Nov. 3, 38 rockets and mortar shells were fired from Gaza into Israel.

To state that “Israel failed to lift its 10-month blockade” while at the same time ignoring the rockets and mortars launched at Israel during the cease-fire, which were the reason for Israel periodically closing the crossings, is completely prejudicial and inaccurate. As the Information and Terrorism Information Center reported:

On June 22, after four days of calm, Israel reopened the Karni and Sufa crossings to enable regular deliveries of consumer goods and fuel to the Gaza Strip. They were closed shortly thereafter, following the first violation of the arrangement, when rockets were fired at Sderot on June 24. However, when calm was restored, the crossings remained open for long periods of time. On August 17 the Kerem Shalom crossing was also opened for the delivery of goods, to a certain degree replacing the Sufa crossing, after repairs had been completed (the Kerem Shalom crossing was closed on April 19 when the IDF prevented a combined mass casualty attack in the region, as a result of which the crossing was almost completely demolished).

As Khalil himself reports, Hamas has already pledged to launch more rockets. And when they do, the Times has an obligation to report it — even if they fall during a period in which Hamas has called a truce.

Jan. 21 Update: Khalil Again Ignores Hamas Rockets

The launching of several mortars at Israel yesterday was reported in the very first paragraph of the International Herald Tribune article today, but completely ignored by the Los Angeles Times’ Ashraf Khalil. Khalil proves himself to be a consistent — if biased — reporter.