NYT Faults Israel for Going After Palestinian Terrorist

On March 22, Israeli security forces ended a lengthy search for Hamza Abu El-Hijja, a Palestinian terrorist involved in shootings of Israelis and in planning more attacks.   They cornered him in the West Bank town of Jenin, leaving him with two options -- he could surrender or shoot it out.  He chose the latter, wounding two Israeli soldiers in an ensuing firefight that also claimed the lives of two other Palestinian terrorists -- one a member of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad and the other a member of the terrorist wing of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

In reporting this episode, the New York Times plays down the serious threat posed by Abu El-Hijja and instead criticizes Israel for going after him. 

Herewith the headline on page 10 of the March 23 news section:  “Israeli Raid Leaves 3 Dead In West Bank Refugee Area.”   No indication of Abu El-Hijja’s terrorist credentials, or the terrorist identity of the other two Palestinians, or that Abu El-Hijja’s decision to opt for a shootout caused the lethal firefight.  Just the opposite, the headline blames the “Israeli raid” for the deaths of the three terrorists.

The article itself, by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren and correspondent Fares Akram, is just as wide of what actually happened as the headline.  Again blaming Israel for pursuing a dangerous terrorist, the lead paragraph evinces the same slant as the headline:  “Israeli forces killed three Palestinians and wounded at least seven others when their attempt to arrest a person suspected of being a militant in the restive Jenin refugee camp erupted into a violent clash.”  No indication of the terrorists stripes of Abu El-Hijja.  And it was Israel’s attempt to arrest him -- not his decision to shoot it out -- that sparked a “violent clash.”  Abu El-Hijja is exonerated, while Israel is blamed for going after him.

The article’s second paragraph is devoted to Palestinian leaders being “outraged” and warning that “purposeful Israeli escalation” threatens to scuttle peace talks.  Abbas and the Palestinian Authority “condemned the Israeli raid” and urged the Obama administration to rein in Israel.

It is not until the fifth paragraph that Rudoren and Akram provide any detail at all of Israel’s attempted arrest of Abu El-Hijja but they promptly limit the gravity of his shootout by reporting that he “shot an Israeli attack dog.”

A classic example of soft-pedaling Palestinian terrorism by the New York Times.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

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