- HONEST REPORTING - MAY 31, 2021 - AKIVA VAN KONINGSVELD -
The New York Times’ crusade against the only Jewish state continues. First, on May 26 the newspaper published “They Were Only Children,” a slideshow portraying the Palestinian and Israeli minors killed during the 11-day conflict between Israel and Gaza-based terrorist groups. Then there was the modern-day blood libel that was perpetrated on the Times’ front page of May 28, where Palestinian victims of failed Hamas rocket launches were grouped with fatalities caused by Israeli retaliatory airstrikes. In at least one case, the slideshow portrays a 17-year-old terror group member as an innocent child victim.
By withholding virtually all context surrounding the conflict, the slideshow fails to present the bigger picture: Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip are the greatest enemies of peace-seeking Israelis and Palestinians alike. While the Jewish state carried out the most surgically precise campaign in the history of counterterrorism, going to extreme lengths to save Palestinian lives, Hamas yet again sacrificed its civilian population on the altar of bad publicity for Israel.
Despite these facts, mainstream media outlets like the New York Times were all too keen to take the bait and wrongly accuse Israel of deliberately targeting children – a modern twist on a hundreds-year-old antisemitic trope.
“Just minutes after the war between Israel and Hamas broke out, a 5-year-old boy named Baraa al-Gharabli was killed in Jabaliya, Gaza,” the opening sentence of “They Were Only Children” dramatically asserts. Only 20 paragraphs later do readers find out that Al-Gharabli’s tragic death “may have been” caused by a Hamas rocket that fell short.
Indeed, IDF radar images show that some 15 percent of all rockets launched by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fell short inside Gaza, unquestionably killing and injuring many Palestinians inside the enclave. Initial research indicates that failed Palestinian rocket launches killed at least nine of the children pictured in Friday’s NYT. Aside from Baraa al-Gharabli, this includes Mustafa Obaid (16), four cousins from the Al-Masri family (aged 2, 6, 10 and 11), Ibrahim Hassanain (16), Hussein Hamad (11), and Butheina Obaid (6).
Still, the New York Times absolves Hamas of the responsibility for their deaths.
NYT Times Publishes Fake Victim Photo, Covers Up Minor’s Terrorist Ties
In another embarrassing faux pas, the NYT front page contained a picture of a Palestinian girl unrelated to the recent round of fighting, purportedly being a victim of an Israeli airstrike. In reality, the stock photo of the anonymous girl has been used countless times to falsely accuse Israel of killing children. While the NYT pulled the fake victim photo from its website, the damage was already done: the print newspaper has a circulation of approximately 375,000.
The obituary also contained at least one minor who was an active member of a US-designated terrorist group. 17-year-old Khaled Qanou, killed by an Israeli drone on May 13, was part of the armed Mujahideen Brigades. This vital information is not mentioned anywhere in the NYT’s slideshow. Although the newspaper on May 30 issued a clarification saying that “a militant group claimed him as a member,” the article falsely insisted last week that “details about his death had not been confirmed.”
As a matter of fact, the militant group already announced the death of Qanou within hours after the drone strike. A Palestinian NGO confirmed his affiliation with the Mujahideen Brigades the same day. On May 22, four days before the publication of “They Were Only Children,” the Mujahideen Brigades released an additional image where he can be seen carrying weapons. How was he “only a child?”
Unreported: Hamas’ Use of Women and Children as Human Shields
Other minors featured in the New York Times’ slideshow likely fell victim to Hamas’ well-documented practice of using women and children as human shields. Take, for example, the tragic death of Lina (15) and Mina (2) Sharir, featured by the NYT.
The two girls died in the IDF airstrike that targeted their father, Iyad Fathi Faik Sharir, a known Hamas commander who for years was responsible for anti-tank guided missile attacks. During the recent hostilities, the terrorist group fired anti-tank missiles at Israeli border communities on several occasions. In one instance, these missiles killed Staff Sgt. Omer Tabib (21), while injuring two other soldiers and a civilian.
But while Hamas deliberately puts Gazan children at risk, the IDF goes to great lengths to avoid harming civilians, often surpassing its obligations under customary international law. The army of the Jewish state warns Gaza’s civilians of incoming strikes by phone, giving them time to evacuate. The IDF, once described as the “most moral army in the history of warfare” by the British Colonel Richard Kemp, also sends out text messages and drops leaflets. If people nevertheless remain in the area, they are often warned with a so-called “knock on the roof”: a loud, non-lethal bomb informing them that a strike is imminent.
But while Israel tries to minimize civilian casualties, Palestinian terror groups use their people as human shields. The terror organization is known to use residential buildings, hotels, hospitals, and even UNRWA schools as launching pads for attacks against Israel. “The people oppose the Israeli fighter planes with their bodies alone,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri previously asserted. “We, the [Hamas] movement, call on our people to adopt this method to protect the Palestinian homes.”
This was no different during the May 10-21 Gaza conflict. In a video aired by Sky News Arabia on May 18, a Gaza man can be heard telling an Israeli soldier, “If the children need to die, then they’ll die. This is how we reveal your cruelty.” Again, the New York Times remains silent.
This antisemitic, one-sided approach is not surprising given the NYT’s sourcing. Instead of doing a modicum of research themselves, “They Were Only Children” relies on data provided by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry and Defense for Children Palestine (DCIP), controversial for its ties to Palestinian terrorists. DCIP’s links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a US-designated terror group, have been known for years.
Nevertheless, the New York Times viewed the organization as a reliable source, even actively working together with DCIP to smear the Jewish state.
Perhaps one of the most striking criticisms of this kind of reporting on the Israel-Hamas war actually came from within the ranks of the newspaper. NYT columnist Bret Stephens on May 24 wrote:
The accusations made against Israel — […] wanton violence against Palestinian civilians, particularly children (despite the fact that Israel regularly warned its targets to vacate buildings before targeting them) — can’t help but make me think of ancient libels about Jewish greed and bloodlust.”
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