What is inspiring young Palestinians to attempt yet more stabbing attacks on Israelis? The answer, according to The New York Times, has nothing to do with the violence of military occupation, the abuse of Palestinian children or trigger-happy troops; it is merely a “loop-like dynamic” of attack and response inspired by video clips.
In a story today, Isabel Kershner reports that videos showing knife attacks and heavy-handed treatment of young detainees are inspiring Palestinian boys as young as 12 to attempt knife assaults. But in a significant omission, the article says nothing about disturbing videos that support a different take: Many Palestinians have been killed when they posed no possible threat.
Likewise, even as Kershner writes about youthful attackers, she (and the Times) have avoided any mention of the constant reports from rights groups over recent years that detail the abusive treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli custody. These include reports of troops arresting children as young as 6 and documentation of violence used against the young detainees. (Also see TimesWarp 1-13-14.)
Instead, readers are introduced to two cousins, 12 and 13, who played hooky from school yesterday in order to carry out a copycat stabbing attack in Jerusalem. Both were arrested; one was seriously wounded in the process; and both had watched video footage the night before of Israeli interrogators aggressively questioning another young teen, Ahmad Manasra, who was wounded after an alleged attack that left his cousin dead.
Kershner then devotes much of her article to rehashing the story of Manasra, who was featured earlier in a lengthy piece aimed at showing how Palestinians got it wrong when they claimed the boy had been killed. It appears to have the same purpose here: to undermine charges that Israeli troops have made false claims about knife attacks and have planted evidence.
She writes, “In several cases, with no video corroboration, Palestinians have insisted that no stabbings took place and have accused the Israeli authorities of planting knives at the scene.”
Several significant factors are missing from this statement: Although video evidence is unavailable in some cases, others are supported by credible eyewitness accounts contradicting official claims; rights groups, not only Palestinians, have charged Israeli troops with killing innocent victims; and video evidence does exist that bolsters many of the charges against Israeli forces.
In a press release last month, Amnesty International said Israeli soldiers and police had resorted to “extreme and unlawful measures” and had “used intentional and lethal force without justification.” The rights group highlighted four cases of “what appear to have been extrajudicial executions.”
Amnesty pointed up one “especially egregious case” in which Israeli forces killed 19-year-old Sa’ad Muhammad Youssef al-Atrash in Hebron on Oct. 26 as he tried to retrieve an identity card on. As the youth reached into his pocket, a soldier behind Atrash shot him on the right side. The report continues, “The eyewitness said he was shot six or seven times and bled profusely as he lay on the ground for about 40 minutes afterwards, while soldiers failed to provide medical treatment.”
Times readers, however, are unlikely to know anything about Muhammad Atrash and how he died, nor are they aware of the Amnesty statements or of reports from other rights groups, including those in Israel and Europe, all of them charging Israel with unlawful killings.
Since the Amnesty release last month, Israel has continued to kill Palestinians, many of whom posed no possible threat, bringing the total to over 80 killed and some 8,500 wounded since the beginning of October. As of Oct. 31, eight Israelis had died and 115 had been wounded, according to the United Nations. These numbers, however, do not appear in Kershner’s story.
Last week Israeli forces shot and killed a 73-year-old grandmother as she drove through Hebron to meet her sister for lunch. A spokesman said she tried to ram soldiers with the car and that a knife was found in her car. Video footage shows a different scenario: Tharwat Sharawi was driving at a moderate speed and in no way aimed to hit soldiers when a barrage of bullets took her life.
The Times has made no mention of this video evidence, nor has it informed readers of other disturbing cases, also caught on video:
- A settler shoots and kills Fadi Qawasmi, 18, in Hebron on Oct. 17, and appears to hand a knife to a soldier, who drops it near the body.
- A mob chases Fadi Alloun in Jerusalem on Oct. 4, shouting, “Shoot him!” as he runs for his life. Police bring him down with a hail of bullets.
- Muhammad Ramadan al Muhtasib, 23, is shot multiple times and killed as he lies helpless on the ground in Hebron on Oct. 30. The army alleges that he tried to stab a soldier.
- Issra Abed, 30, is shot at a bus station in Afula as she stands with her hands over her head. After she lies wounded on the ground, a bystander approaches and kicks away a pair of sunglasses lying by her side. (Police said she was grasping a knife.)
- Dania Irsheid, 18, is shot and killed at a checkpoint in Hebron after passing through metal detectors and a revolving iron gate. Video footage show Israeli police giving her no assistance as she lies bleeding on the ground.
- Hadeel al Hashlamoun, 18, is shot at a checkpoint in Hebron on Sept. 22 and left to bleed to death. A video shows her being dragged by her heels along the ground.
In several of these videos the indifference of Israeli troops is striking. None of them attempts to help the victims, and in some cases witnesses report that settlers are allowed to take pictures of the dead and dying while Palestinian journalists and medics are turned away. One highly disturbing photo shows a smiling settler taking a photo of a dead Palestinian in Hebron on Oct. 29.
In this context, the report by Kershner is appalling. Although video evidence, eyewitness accounts and investigations by rights groups point to a pattern of trigger happy—even blood thirsty—security forces killing Palestinians with the slightest degree of suspicion, the Times has made no effort to inform readers of these findings. On the contrary, it places this misleading story by Kershner on page 1 above the fold.
Here we find another attempt to blame the victims, to paint Palestinians as the violent offenders, omitting even the numbers of dead and injured, which reveal a disproportionate death toll of 10 Palestinians for every one Israeli. The facts, however, seem to be of no account when it comes to protecting Israel. Given the choice between shielding this rogue state and reporting the news, the Times stands with Israel.