Updated: New York Times Accurately Reports on IDF Investigation

UPDATE, June 14, 2006 The New York Times today reported on Israeli defense minister Amir Peretz’s  press conference about the IDF investigation into the June 9 Gaza explosion which concluded that Israel was not to blame.  The article by Steven Erlanger and Ian Fisher also accurately attribute the idea of an “errant Israeli shell” being the source of the explosion to Gaza residents, stating:

But the civilian casualties further inflamed Palestinian rage over eight deaths last week on a beach from what residents said was an errant Israeli shell. [emphasis added]

June 13, 2006

New York Times Continues to Blame Israel Despite All Evidence to the Contrary

CAMERA has faulted the Western press for misreporting a June 9 explosion on Gaza beach in which 7 Palestinians, including several children were killed. The Palestinians were quick to blame Israel for the incident and the Western press readily accepted that Israel was to blame. But by Tuesday, the media was reporting the findings of the IDF probe–that the explosion likely was a result of a Palestinian mine. The evidence for this:

 1) the shrapnel removed in Israeli hospitals from the bodies of those injured is not consistent with that of an Israeli shell, but with that of a bomb.

2) according to photographs, the crater seen on the beach looks like one made by an explosion from below (a mine), not a hit from above (a shell).

3) according to intelligence reports, Hamas has been systematically mining the northern Gaza beach in an attempt to keep Israeli commandos from landing there

The explosion was discussed in no less than five New York Times articles, with a human interest story devoted to Huda Ghalia, the young girl who lost several members of her family, and a top-of-fold, four-column color photograph from the footage. In every one of these articles, the New York Times has not veered from the claim that the Palestinian deaths were caused by an “errant Israeli shell.” In the most recent article, “Violence Erupts Among Factions of Palestinians”(July 13), bureau chief Steven Erlanger again mentions the incident at the beginning of the article (fifth paragraph), sticking to this version of events, despite the evidence against it. He writes:

The Palestinian leader, who advocates negotiation with Israel, is facing increasing political isolation, especiallly in the wake of Friday’s killing of seven members of a Palestinian family on a Gaza beach, apparently by an errant Israeli shell. The deaths have strengthened Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel’s legitimacy. [emphasis added]

It is only at the end of the article (21st paragraph) that readers are informed that “an Israeli investigation continued into the deaths of eight Palestinian civilians on a northern Gaza beach on Friday, with Israeli officials continuing to suggest that the explosion may not have been caused by an Israeli artillery shell, but by an errant Qassam rocket or explosives hidden in the sand.”

Why does Mr. Erlanger discount the IDF “suggestion,” putting more credence on the Palestinian claim that the explosion was Israeli in origin? Why does he report at the top of the story that the deaths were due to an “errant Israeli shell” while characterizing the Israeli evidence to the contrary as a mere “suggestion” by Israeli officials at the end of the article?
Why is the New York Times so loath to depart from its pattern of blaming Israel?

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