BY HUGH FITZGERALD
Republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, & research purposes.
The Washington Post has begun to rival the Guardian in the shoddiness of its coverage of Israel and the Palestinians. It has been using terrorists as the sources for some of its stories, but identifying them only as “journalists.” More on this story can be found here: “The Washington Post Pretends Terrorists Are Both Journalists and Credible Sources,” by Sean Durns, Algemeiner, May 12, 2023:
Two recent reports by The Washington Post neatly encompass everything that is wrong with both the newspaper’s coverage of the Israel-Islamist conflict and the paper’s journalism itself. Both dispatches appeared on the same day, May 10, and both were filed by the newspaper’s Jerusalem bureau.
In a news report on an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) counter-terrorist operation, the Post treated a terrorist-linked entity as a credible source. While ostensibly about IDF strikes aimed at taking out leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a Gaza-based terror group, the article uncritically quoted casualty claims by “Palestinian health officials.”
Later, the Post noted that “four women and four children were among those killed in the morning strikes, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.”
These figures of four women and four children killed were put out by something called the “Palestinian Health Ministry.” But that “Ministry” is run by the terror group Hamas, and it has a long history of exaggerating the number of Palestinian civilian deaths caused by Israel.
Yet, notwithstanding its innocuous sounding name, the “Palestinian Health Ministry” is run by Hamas, a US-designated terrorist group. And it has a long history of lying to journalists, who — for some inexplicable reason — are more than willing to parrot its claims.
Did the Washington Post reporter not think to investigate this innocent-sounding “Palestinian Health Ministry” before credulously quoting its claims? It would not have taken long to find out that it is run by Hamas and has a history of lying to journalists, especially about the numbers of civilian casualties, with the goal of making Israel look bad. We still don’t know if the figure of the dead that the Health Ministry put out on May 10 – of four women and four children killed — was accurate, or was an exaggeration. But since the Health Ministry has a long record of exaggerating the toll on civilians, shouldn’t the reporter have at least identified the source as “part of the terror group Hamas, so its figures must be treated with extreme caution”?
In a July 7, 2021, report for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, entitled “The Media in the 2021 Gaza War,” Middle East analyst Lenny Ben-David noted that a “Hamas government body, the Health Ministry, was a primary source for international media outlets on the number of Gaza’s dead and wounded” in that conflict. However, the statistics supplied by the Ministry were “unreliable.”
Ben-David pointed out: “A study on Gazan casualties in the 2014 war published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs uncovered a Health Ministry official, Ashraf al-Kidra, who served as the ‘keeper of the statistics.’ Al-Kidra used a very broad definition of civilians, saying the term applied to ‘anyone who had not been claimed by one of the armed groups as a member.’”
Al-Kidra, a member of Hamas and the “keeper of statistics” at the Hamas-run Health Ministry, back during the 2014 Gaza conflict, was determined to maximize the number of “civilians” Israel killed. One way was simply to identify anyone who was not claimed as a member of any of the recognized terror groups – Hamas, PIJ, PFLP, Hezbollah – a “civilian,” even if that “civilian” had participated in terror attacks without being formally a member of any group, or had been responsible for lone wolf terror attacks. Al-Kidra’s broad definition of who is a “civilian” greatly expands the number of those “civilians” killed by those wicked Israelis.
It makes perfect sense that a terrorist group would lie and manipulate casualty statistics for propaganda purposes. Indeed, that’s part and parcel of what terrorist groups do across the world.
Hamas itself has acknowledged as much. For example, in a 2018 interview, Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar admitted to Al-Jazeera that the group believed in “deceiving the public” for propaganda purposes.
Of course, Hamas tries to deceive the world’s Infidels. It is only following the example of Muhammad, who in a famous hadith declared that “war is deception.”
And Hamas, which runs the Health Ministry, encourages civilian casualties.
Hamas has always targeted Israeli civilians and employed Palestinian human shields — a double war crime. The group has used schools to hide its weaponry, equipment, and fighters, and, as recently as the 2014 conflict, used ambulances as “transport vehicles” and hospitals as “command centers.” During the 2021 war, the group was infamously caught using the building that housed Associated Press offices for operations — a war crime that was obfuscated by news outlets like The Washington Post.
The members of the AP, though they shared the same office building with a Hamas command-and-control center, claimed in May 2021, after their office building had been leveled by Israel, to have been completely unaware of Hamas’ presence. They were, of course, warned well in advance by Israel to vacate the building, which they did. That warning also allowed the Hamas operatives to get out safely, but the IDF saw that its first duty was to warn civilians, even if that also meant alerting Hamas. The upshot was that Israel was raked over the coals by the international media for having attacked the building where Hamas had one of its main offices because the AP and other news organizations also had their offices destroyed. No gratitude was expressed by the AP to Israel for having warned its staff to leave in time, even though that warning also allowed Hamas to vacate the premises.
In short: Hamas runs the Health Ministry. And it is in their interest both to encourage civilian deaths and to lie about them.
Why the Post’s Jerusalem bureau seems to think it’s in their reader’s interest to treat Hamas-run entities as credible is a question that warrants asking.
Either the reporters in the Washington Post‘s Jerusalem bureau are extraordinarily ignorant, in not realizing that the Health Ministry in Gaza was controlled by Hamas, or they are malevolent, in attempting to hide the fact of Hamas’ control of the Health Ministry and its doubtful statistics from their readers. Either explanation ought to have disqualified them from further reporting on Israel and the Palestinians.
As Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington D.C.-based think, noted: “If you are a journalist citing ‘ministry of health’ statistics out of Gaza, you might want to take some time off and reconsider your professional standards for sources.”
Regrettably, the Post isn’t interested in taking time off from misleading readers. The newspaper’s story on the counter-terrorist operation came complete with a pull quote from Ismail Haniyeh, a top Hamas operative, which called terrorism “resistance.”
Why was Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas, given pride of place with a pull quote in which he describes what Hamas does – murder civilians in terror attacks – as “resistance”? Why was that given as a pull quote so as to draw attention to a Goebbels-level lie? Hamas has only one goal, unchanged since its 1964 Charter – to destroy the state of Israel, to expel or kill all of its Jews, and to replace Israel with a Palestinian Arab state “from the river to the sea.”
Worse still, the Post continued its own well-worn habit of supplying misleading casualty stats, claiming that “this year has been one of the deadliest in recent memory for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank.”
The paper asserted that “since January, at least 95 casualties have been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers” whereas only “17 Israelis and one foreign national have been killed by Palestinians.”
But the overwhelming majority of Palestinians killed have been terrorists — a fact that was documented by nonpartisan think tanks like the FDD, among others, long before the Post’s May 10 report.
The Washington Post provided only figures about the numbers of Palestinian and Israeli dead It did not report on how many of those dead were civilians, and how many of the Palestinians who were killed were members of terror groups. Why not? Very likely because the paper’s reporters wanted to create more sympathy for the Palestinians, who had more than five times the number of casualties as did the Israelis, by hiding the fact that at least 80 of those 95 Palestinians were members of two terror groups, Hamas and PIJ. That puts an entirely different slant on the conflict.
Indeed, as the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has highlighted, many of the slain Palestinians have been claimed by the terrorist groups themselves. By contrast, all of the Israelis were murdered by terrorists — and all, except one, were civilians.
It is abhorrent to conflate the victims of terrorists with slain terrorists when listing casualties.
The critical information left out in The Washington Post report is this: many – about 80 — of those 95 Palestinians killed in 2023 were not civilians, but terrorists. And all but one of the 19 Israelis killed were civilians, murdered by terrorists.
Additionally, the Post’s claim that “violence has intensified this year between Israel and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza under Netanyahu’s new government” is misleading. As FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer and Joe Truzman detailed in a Feb. 24, 2023, Washington Examiner op-ed, the uptick in violence can be traced back to 2021 — before the current Netanyahu government.
The rise in violence between Israel and the Palestinians did not begin when the Netanyahu government took over. It began, rather, in May 2021, after a series of attacks on Israelis from Hamas and the PIJ led Israel to respond in what was known as Operation Breaking the Wave.
Indeed, as the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) pointed out in a Nov. 18, 2021, op-ed, the violence has more to do with internal Palestinian upheavals than Israel’s latest coalition. Current Palestinian Authority President (PA) Mahmoud Abbas reigns but barely rules; the PA-controlled West Bank is increasingly fragmented and Iranian-proxies like Hamas sense an opportunity to make inroads in the areas controlled by Fatah, their erstwhile rival.
In the West Bank, both Hamas and PIJ have been gaining members at the expense of the PA. The violence on the West Bank has recently been mostly among different Palestinian factions, with Hamas readier to challenge the authority of the PA, which is wildly unpopular. 80% of Palestinians now say they want Mahmoud Abbas to resign. The intra-Arab violence has gotten so bad, and the Palestinian Authority so unable to control it, that Arabs in Hebron appealed to the King of Jordan to send troops to reestablish order (he didn’t). This intra-Arab violence is likely to continue in Gaza once the current fighting with Israel ends. Then there may be a settling of scores between PIJ and Hamas fighters, with the former angry that Hamas abandoned it entirely during its battle with Israel, and the latter may want to deliver a final blow to its Gazan rival, the PIJ, now that Israel has so thoroughly weakened it.
But as CAMERA has noted, the Post doesn’t really cover Palestinian internal matters— not unless Israel can be blamed. Palestinians are but cannon fodder for their columns.
The Washington Post only covers Israel-Palestinian violence, not the intra-Arab rivalries and fighting that plague both Gaza and the West Bank. It needs always to have an anti-Israel angle to its stories, and that angle is lacking in the stories of PA vs. Hamas battles in the West Bank and the Hamas vs. PIJ conflict in Gaza. So internal disputes among the Palestinians are given short shrift in the Post.
This attitude, and the Post’s brazen contempt for basic journalistic standards, were evidenced in the Jerusalem bureau’s other May 10 report.
That dispatch, entitled “A year after journalist’s fatal shooting, report finds patter of Israel inaction,” regurgitated claims made by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that since 2001, the IDF has been responsible for the deaths of 20 reporters.
Yet, according to CAMERA’s Arabic department, no fewer than eight of those “reporters” have been linked to US-designated terrorist groups, serving their propaganda and media arms. Their levels of affiliation vary. As CPJ’s own report notes, some worked for media outlets associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and others for Hamas.
Almost half of the 20 journalists whom the Committee to Protect Journalists has accused Israel of killing turn out to be members of terror groups. They served in the propaganda and media offices of Hamas, with lesser numbers working for the PFLP.
One, Muhammad al-Bishawi, was killed inside the “Palestinian Center for Studies and Media” in Nablus, which even CPJ calls “a Hamas information office,” during the assassination of Hamas official Jamal Mansour. According to his biography for the Hamas-affiliated students movement, of which he was a member, Bishawi was working at the center, and Mansour was his boss. Another “journalist,” Khaled Riyadh Hamad, was an operative of Hamas’s al-Qassam brigades (Hamas itself refersto him as a “martyred Jihad warrior of al-Qassam”) — and was buried wrapped in the movement’s flag.
Muhammad al-Bishawi and his boss Jamal Mansour both worked in the Hamas propaganda offices, while Khaled Riyadh Hamad was an operative of the Al-Qassam Brigades – in other words, a Hamas fighter — as well as a journalist.
All three, then, can be considered as terrorists who were furthering the work of Hamas, even if two worked in propaganda, and only one was considered to be a “martyred jihad warrior” from having taken part in a violent attack.
Sameh al-Aryan, Mahmoud al-Kumi, Ahmed Abu-Hussein, Yousef Abu-Hussein, and Hussam Salama, all worked for media outlets associated with the PFLP or Hamas.
These five also worked in the media outlets linked to two terror groups – Hamas and the PFLP. That means at least eight of the twenty so-called “journalists” whom Israel is accused of killing since 2001 were really members of terror groups. They were as much a valued part of those terror groups as were those who shot or stabbed Israeli civilians.
CPJ itself notes as much. But The Washington Post failed to mention this salient fact.
Those who work for the media arms of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda’s Inspire Magazine or the Islamic State’s Dabiq are certainly not considered “journalists” — even by the Post. Curiously this standard is dropped when the terrorist groups in question have Israel as their primary target.
The PFLP and Hamas and their propaganda entities routinely celebrate the murders of Israeli civilians. That they’re considered “reporters” by the CPJ is disqualifying.
The Post omits other relevant information, notably the fact that CPJ’s report covers multiple wars and at least two Intifadas (one of which lasted nearly five years and cost more than 1,000 Israelis their lives). Reporting from combat zones is inherently dangerous, particularly when terrorist groups use human shields — or when they disguise themselves as journalists.
Indeed, although the newspaper doesn’t mention it, there have been several instances of terrorist group’s donning garb and pretending to be journalists. In 2018, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, published an open-source report entitled “Palestinians use indications of media affiliation to protect themselves during anti-Israel military activities and terrorist attacks,” which documented this phenomenon. And as recently as the summer of 2022, a Palestinian journalist named Ghufran Hamed Warasneh attempted to stab IDF troops.
Not only are some of these “Palestinian journalists” in fact working full-time for terror groups –Hamas, PIJ, and the PFLP – but some terrorists disguise themselves as journalists, complete with press passes, and signs indicating their media affiliation, when they conduct anti-Israel “military attacks and terrorist attacks.” They hope thereby to prevent Israeli attacks on themselves – they are deceptively decked out in the garb of journalists, with notepads, recorders, mikes, video cameras, and signs reading “PRESS. ”
All of this seems relevant to the Post’s report. But The Washington Post seems incapable of telling the difference between terrorists and journalists, or terrorists and credible sources. And that is a fact worth noting.
The Washington Post accepts as reliable sources such Hamas-run organizations as the “Palestinian Health Ministry” in Gaza, despite that body’s long history of falsifying statistics, including greatly inflating the number of civilians killed by Israel. Furthermore, the Post fails to inform its readers that many of those it describes as “journalists” killed by Israel – 20 over 22 years, or less than 1 a year – are in fact operatives of terror groups. At least eight out of the twenty, and possibly more, turn out to be members of Hamas and the PFLP. Finally, some terrorists disguise themselves as journalists in the hope of escaping attacks by the IDF. The Washington Post has a lot of remedial work to do, including firings and hirings among those in its Jerusalem bureau, if it wants its coverage of Israel and the Palestinians to be taken seriously.