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September 11, 2016

Biased Reuters, AFP Captions on Disputed Gaza Death

UPDATE, 5 pm EST: AFP, Reuters Add IDF's Account to Captions on Disputed Gaza Death

Both Reuters and Agence France Presse, major photo services with thousands of clients across the world, published incomplete, tendentious captions Friday concerning a Gaza teen killed under disputed circumstances. While Palestinian sources claim that Israeli troops shot 18-year-old Abdel-Rahman Al-Dabbagh in the head during a border clash, the Israeli army said that it only used tear gas. As a Reuters new story accurately reported:

An 18-year-old Palestinian was killed during a rock-throwing protest near the Gaza-Israel border on Friday and a Palestinian health official said Israeli soldiers shot him, but the Israeli army said troops were not responsible.

Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said Abdel-Rahman Al-Dabbagh was killed by an Israeli bullet to the head during the border clash in the central Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military said troops had sought to contain the violence on the other side of the border fence and had used only tear gas.

"Dozens of rioters breached the buffer zone and attempted to damage the security (border) fence. ... Forces stationed at the border used tear gas that led to the dispersal of the riot. Following a preliminary review, the Israel Defense Forces did not conduct the reported shooting," a military statement said.

Nevertheless, in violation of Reuters' policy to "take no sides, tell all sides," Reuters' captions about the incident completely ignore the information from the Israeli side. Reuters' handbook further advises journalists:

Our text and visual stories need to reflect all sides, not just one. . . . We have a duty of fairness to give the subjects of such stories the opportunity to put their side.

Examples of Reuters' one-sided captions, which left out the Israeli information, follows:

Reuters Dabag Gaza 2.jpg

A man mourns the death of Palestinian youth Abdulrahman Al-Dabag, who medics said was shot dead by Israeli troops on Friday, at a hospital in the central Gaza Strip September 9, 2016. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Reuters Gaza Dabag.jpg

A man mourns the death of Palestinian youth Abdulrahman Al-Dabag, who medics said was shot dead by Israeli troops on Friday, at a hospital in the central Gaza Strip September 9, 2016. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

AFP's news article from Friday likewise accurately reported the disputed circumstances. Nevertheless, some of AFP's captions also ignored the Israeli army statement that troops used only tear gas. An example of those biased AFP captions follow:

afp gaza dabag 3.jpg

Palestinian Territories, Deir el-Balah : Palestinian men mourn the death of 16-year-old Abdel Rahman al-Dabbagh, who according to the health ministry was shot dead by Israeli troops during clashes near the border fence, at a hospital morgue in the central Gaza Strip, on September 9, 2016. Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qodra identified the teenager as Abdel Rahman al-Dabbagh, and said he was killed east of Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, saying the teenager was hit in the head and taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead./ AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB

On the other hand, other AFP captions , like the one below, did accurately note the disputed circumstances Dabag's death.

afp dabag Israel denies.jpg

Relatives of 16-year-old Abdel Rahman al-Dabbagh, mourn during his funeral in Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, on September 10, 2016. Israeli troops shot and killed the teenager during clashes the previous day near the border fence with Israel, Palestinian sources said, but the Israeli military denied having used live fire. / AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS

CAMERA has contacted editors at both AFP and Reuters to ask that they amend the incomplete captions. Stay tuned for an update.

Posted by TS at September 11, 2016 07:50 AM

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