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August 28, 2014

Where’s the Coverage? Media Miss Hamas’ Admission of Kidnapping

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After the June, 2014 kidnapping of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank, Israel was accused of exploiting the incident first to crack down on Hamas (Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement) and then, as Hamas and other terrorist groups intensified mortar and rocket fire into Israel, to launch Operation Protective Edge against the Gaza Strip.

The facts indicate otherwise. Scouring the West Bank in search of the missing boys, Israel arrested 350 Palestinian Arabs, most of them Hamas members or suspected members, some recently released as part of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

In retaliation for the arrests and apparently because one of its Gaza-to-Israel infiltration tunnels had been exposed—not to mention disrupting what Israel hoped was a search-and-rescue mission—Hamas increased rocket fire. Israel hit terrorist targets in retaliation.

Some news media claimed that there had been no proof that Hamas had been responsible for the kidnappings. For example:

“Beyond Netanyahu’s accusations of Hamas responsibilities, there is no evident link between the abduction and the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip” (“Israel debates action over deaths”, The Miami Herald, July 1, 2014)

Also:
“[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu did not publicly cite specific evidence tying Hamas to the kidnapping, and Israeli military officials refused to do so (“Netanyahu Says Three Were Taken by Hamas”, The New York Times, June 15, 2014) .

But Hamas officials subsequently confirmed Netanyahu’s charge by claiming responsibility for the abduction:

“A recording of a top Hamas official admitting the terror group was behind the June kidnapping and slaying of three Israeli teens in the West Bank emerged Wednesday [August 20], representing the strongest evidence yet of Hamas involvement in the attack.

“Sheikh Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas religious figure, is heard on the video saying that he ‘blessed the heroic action’ which was ‘carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades’—the armed wing of Hamas. This action, ‘the kidnapping to Hebron of the three settlers,’ was an ‘operation spoken of far and wide,’ al-Arouri added” (“Top Hamas sheikh admits to June kidnapping of Israeli teens”, The Times of Israel, Aug. 20, 2014) .

Qatar-based Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal confirmed Al-Arouri’s acknowledgement (“Mashaal admits Hamas members killed Israeli teens”, The Times of Israel, Aug. 23, 2014) .

Yet, The Washington Post did not mention confirmation by group leaders of Hamas’ role in the kidnappings-murders. Neither did The New York Times.

The Washington Times published only a three-paragraph brief discussing the admission by al-Arouri (“Senior Hamas leader admits kidnapping Israeli teens,” Aug. 22, 2014). The Miami Herald reported the confession by Hamas, quoting al-Arouri saying:

“Allah has chosen and willed that a large battle would be ignited” (“Hamas admits kidnapping Israeli teens”, Aug. 21, 2014) .

The Washington Post did publish a half-page article covering hardships Gazans experienced due to the fighting (“Gaza factories hit hard in conflict”, Aug. 21, 2014) one day after reports of Al-Arouri’s admission, two days before other media noted Mashaal’s acknowledgement . The Post article overemphasizes its subject. Gaza Strip factories would not have been hit at all had Hamas not launched hundreds, then thousands of mortars and missiles into Israel and built tunnels meant to facilitate mass kidnappings and murders of Israelis.

The Post’s narrow focus and exaggerated emphasis on Gaza’s economy failed to mention how the fighting started. The connection between the hardships imposed on the Arabs of the Strip by Hamas’ terror attacks against Israel, which forced six million Israelis to be able to reach bomb shelters within 15 to 90 seconds of alarm sirens sounding, was buried.

Palestinian Arabs were quoted bemoaning the destruction and blaming Israel, with no reminder to readers that they were not free to do otherwise. Hamas punishes dissidents it labels “collaborators” and, in fact, reportedly murdered several dozen Gazans it so accused a few days before the late August ceasefire. The organization regularly threatens and intimidates Gazans and, directly or indirectly, journalists.

In such an environment it is impossible to report comprehensively. This means news media should remind audiences that they are not getting the full picture. Reporting that Israel did not provide evidence to support its initial charge of Hamas responsibility for the kidnappings but downplaying or failing outright to cover the group’s confirmation when it came is another example of that failure to report comprehensively.—Ziv Kaufman

Posted by ER at August 28, 2014 02:13 PM

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