WaPo leaves false impression on Palestinian terror attack

Leo Rennert
The headline in the Feb. 18 edition of the Washington Post reads as follows:  "Israeli troops kill 3 Palestinians near border" (page A8).

The lead paragraph of the article, by correspondent Joel Greenberg, reads as follows:  "Israeli forces killed three Palestinians near the Gaza Strip's northern border with Israel on Thursday, according to Palestinians, who said they were fishermen, and the Israeli army, which said they were militants."

Greenberg goes on to report that the Israeli army stated that it identified several "militants" approaching the border in an attempt to plant explosives targeting Israeli troops, then opened fire, killing three of them.  But, Greenberg continues, "relatives of the dead said they were unarmed fishermen."

So far, obviously a case of whom do you believe.  But Greenberg ends up leaving a distinct impression that the IDF might have killed innocent civilians by adding the following:  "None of Gaza's armed groups immediately said that any of their members had been killed."

Really?  No such claim by Gaza's "armed groups" (the Post never calls them terrorists)? 

Not so, however, according to the Associated Press, which in its dispatch, cited a text message from the  Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine identifying  the man as a member and acknowledged that he had been killed on a mission  for its military wing.

Now, this puts an entirely different slant on what happened, doesn't it?  Since the DFLP is a certified terrorist group and admits that it was carrying out a terrorist mission, one no longer needs to wonder whom to believe.

In turn, this raises serious questions about the basic reliability and truthfulness of Greenberg's reportage.  The AP story moved before dawn on Feb. 17, Washington time, in plenty of time to alert AP users, including foreign correspondents in Jerusalem, about the DFLP's claim that its military wing had been, in fact, on a mission to plant explosives along the border and identifying at least one of its participants as a bona-fide member of this terrorist outfit.

Notice that the claim of responsibility by the DFLP, according to the AP, was sent as a text message to reporters.  Was Greenberg somehow missing from the DFLP's contact roster of Jerusalem correspondents?  Doesn't Greenberg have access to AP dispatches?  Isn't the Post a subscriber to the AP?

Since the IDF opened fire on these "militants" before dawn of Feb. 17, Greenberg and his editors had ample time to include the DFLP"s claim of responsibility in an article for the Feb. 18 edition.  Did they all somehow mss this essential bit of information, which makes it clear that the IDF acted justifiably in firing on enemy combatants?

Instead, by falsely stating that none of the usual Palestinian "armed groups" claimed responsibility, Greenberg left a distinctly false impression of a trigger-happy IDF shooting and killing 3 Palestinians who might well have been innocent fishermen.

So why was the DFLP's boast of carrying out a military mission absent from Greenberg's story?  Are the Post and Greenberg so invested in their pre-conceptions that Israel is always at fault that, when an inconvenient truth intrudes, it has to be shoved aside?

One can't help but wonder.
The headline in the Feb. 18 edition of the Washington Post reads as follows:  "Israeli troops kill 3 Palestinians near border" (page A8).

The lead paragraph of the article, by correspondent Joel Greenberg, reads as follows:  "Israeli forces killed three Palestinians near the Gaza Strip's northern border with Israel on Thursday, according to Palestinians, who said they were fishermen, and the Israeli army, which said they were militants."

Greenberg goes on to report that the Israeli army stated that it identified several "militants" approaching the border in an attempt to plant explosives targeting Israeli troops, then opened fire, killing three of them.  But, Greenberg continues, "relatives of the dead said they were unarmed fishermen."

So far, obviously a case of whom do you believe.  But Greenberg ends up leaving a distinct impression that the IDF might have killed innocent civilians by adding the following:  "None of Gaza's armed groups immediately said that any of their members had been killed."

Really?  No such claim by Gaza's "armed groups" (the Post never calls them terrorists)? 

Not so, however, according to the Associated Press, which in its dispatch, cited a text message from the  Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine identifying  the man as a member and acknowledged that he had been killed on a mission  for its military wing.

Now, this puts an entirely different slant on what happened, doesn't it?  Since the DFLP is a certified terrorist group and admits that it was carrying out a terrorist mission, one no longer needs to wonder whom to believe.

In turn, this raises serious questions about the basic reliability and truthfulness of Greenberg's reportage.  The AP story moved before dawn on Feb. 17, Washington time, in plenty of time to alert AP users, including foreign correspondents in Jerusalem, about the DFLP's claim that its military wing had been, in fact, on a mission to plant explosives along the border and identifying at least one of its participants as a bona-fide member of this terrorist outfit.

Notice that the claim of responsibility by the DFLP, according to the AP, was sent as a text message to reporters.  Was Greenberg somehow missing from the DFLP's contact roster of Jerusalem correspondents?  Doesn't Greenberg have access to AP dispatches?  Isn't the Post a subscriber to the AP?

Since the IDF opened fire on these "militants" before dawn of Feb. 17, Greenberg and his editors had ample time to include the DFLP"s claim of responsibility in an article for the Feb. 18 edition.  Did they all somehow mss this essential bit of information, which makes it clear that the IDF acted justifiably in firing on enemy combatants?

Instead, by falsely stating that none of the usual Palestinian "armed groups" claimed responsibility, Greenberg left a distinctly false impression of a trigger-happy IDF shooting and killing 3 Palestinians who might well have been innocent fishermen.

So why was the DFLP's boast of carrying out a military mission absent from Greenberg's story?  Are the Post and Greenberg so invested in their pre-conceptions that Israel is always at fault that, when an inconvenient truth intrudes, it has to be shoved aside?

One can't help but wonder.