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September 27, 2005

CAMERA Sets the Record Straight on AP

Questions have been raised about the veracity of an AP report that Israeli soldiers danced and sang “a biblical song of revenge�? after firing a round of artillery on September 25.

CAMERA staff investigated the report's claim, examining photographs of the drill and contacting those who were at the scene. Below is a clarification of the events:

Hamas held a paramilitary rally in Gaza on Friday evening where a truckload of rockets exploded, killing nearly 20 Palestinian bystanders and injuring hundreds more. The Palestinian Authority and witnesses blamed Hamas for the deaths, but Hamas tried to shift responsibility for the accident onto Israel, saying Israel had hit the truck in an airstrike. Reinforcing this falsehood, Hamas announced it would “retaliate�? for the truck explosion and launched barrages of rockets into Israel, injuring several people. After repeated warnings, Israel responded with airstrikes and vowed to use all means to end such Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israeli targets. On Sunday, the IDF set up a position outside the Gaza Strip and carried out a test drill in an empty field to calibrate weapons and to determine coordinates for a possible future artillery attack. Following the success of their test, soldiers hugged each other, celebrated and reportedly quoted from a passage in Judges about Samson praying for the strength to carry out a last attack on those who had gouged out his eyes and imprisoned him in Gaza.

The Associated Press is technically correct about soldiers celebrating by dancing and quoting from the bible, although the reference to a "biblical revenge song" is a rather extreme and misleading interpretation—there is no such thing as a biblical revenge song.

While AP appears to be astonishingly quick to report about some soldiers celebrating a successful test in an empty field, the news agency has not been quite as rigorous in describing Palestinians celebrating the murders of Israeli civilians. Note, for example, the difference between the following Jerusalem Post description of Palestinian rejoicing at the August 31, 2004 double suicide bombing in Be’er Sheva with that of AP:

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 1, 2004

While hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets in major cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to celebrate the double suicide bombings in Beersheba, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat reiterated his call for sacrificing millions of martyrs to liberate Jerusalem. Women in Nablus ululated in joy as Arab satellite TV stations interrupted their normal programs to break the news of the bombings. Scores of gunmen opened fire into the air, shouting "Allahu Akbar!" or God is Great. Similar expressions of joy were reported in Tulkarm and Jenin.

Associated Press on same event, August 31, 2004:

In the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh in southern Lebanon, gunmen fired shots into the air to celebrate the attacks, a Palestinian official said.

AP minimizes widespread Palestinian celebrations of Israeli deaths while playing up the small congratulatory dance celebrating a successful military test in an empty field:

Palestinians celebrate twin suicide bombing


  nahal oz

Palestinians celebrating twin suicide bombings, August 29, 2004

Israeli soldiers celebrating successful military test, September 23, 2005

On a different note, CAMERA has prompted another AP correction.

Posted by rh at September 27, 2005 06:49 PM


Nice overview of the series of events in the larger picture. We at HonestReporting have updated our communique on this topic, linking back here.

Posted by: HR editor at September 28, 2005 08:56 AM

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