In a report published Aug. 31, 2003 (Israeli Strikes Kill 2 Militants and a Girl), New York Times correspondent James Bennet mistakenly asserted that no Israelis had been injured in Qassam rocket attacks:
While Hamas has not successfully sent suicide bombers into Israel from the Gaza Strip, it has repeatedly fired crude rockets over Gaza’s fenced boundary. The attacks have not caused any injuries, however. Israeli security officials said one of the men killed today, Mr. Akel, had been involved in manufacturing and firing the rockets …
In fact, a number of Israelis, including infants, have been seriously wounded by Qassam rockets. One 16-month-old infant, in particular, suffered two broken legs and shrapnel wounds to his head, cheek and eye when a Qassam rocket exploded a few yards from where he was playing. In other cases the rockets have narrowly missed hitting crowded schools and factories. By misstating the results and the danger of the Qassam attacks, and in the next sentence reporting Israel’s retaliation against a Qassam ringleader, the Times article tends to call into question the legitimacy of the Israeli reprisal.
Had the Times reported the true impact of the Qassam rockets, including their large size – six feet long and carrying a payload of more than 10 pounds of high explosives – readers might have better understood why Israel is so determined to prevent the Palestinians from building or firing this new terror weapon.
Qassam-related injuries ignored by the Times include:
March 5, 2002 – Shilo Na’amat, 16-months-old, suffers two broken legs and shrapnel wounds to his head, cheek and eye when a Qassam rocket explodes a few yards away from where he was playing near his home in the southern town of Sderot. The home is also damaged, and Shilo’s mother and his two young sisters have to be treated for shock. (Jerusalem Post, March 6, 2002)
September 25, 2002 – Qassam rockets hit a factory in Sderot, sparking an explosion and fire and causing smoke inhalation injuries to three workers. Forty workers had just left the factory, which was severely damaged in the attack. According to the company CEO, “If it had been only a few seconds earlier there would have been a huge tragedy.” (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 27, 2002)
February, 19, 2003 – A Sderot resident working in a factory in the town is injured by shrapnel after a Qassam rocket hits the facility. The man is hospitalized and several other workers are treated for shock. (Jerusalem Post, February 20, 2003)
March 3, 2003 – Qassam rockets land near the backyards of two Sderot homes. Six people, including at least three children, have to be treated for shock in an Ashkelon hospital. (Jerusalem Post, March 4, 2003)
April 20, 2003 – An elderly woman suffers smoke inhalation after a Qassam rocket hits the roof of her apartment building in Sderot and causes a fire. (Jerusalem Post, April 21, 2003)
May 9, 2003 – A six-year-old girl suffers shrapnel wounds to her hands after a Qassam rocket explodes near her school in Sderot. (Jerusalem Post, May 11, 2003)
May 13, 2003 – Three workers suffer smoke inhalation after a Qassam rocket hits their factory, setting off a fire. (Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2003)
Because of an editing error, an article on Sunday about Israeli tank and missile attacks that left two Palestinian militants and an 8-year-old Palestinian girl dead misstated the toll taken by crude rockets fired by Hamas over Gaza’s fenced boundary. While they have indeed caused no injuries in recent days, rockets have damaged several homes and factories over the last 18 months, leaving Israelis suffering from shrapnel wounds, broken limbs, smoke inhalation and shock.