‘Washington Post’ prints false narrative of how Gaza escalation started

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 21 Comments

You know the drill by now: an escalation occurs in the Gaza Strip that is automatically blamed on Palestinian fighters. The New York Times does it, as the Electronic Intifada’s Maureen Murphy points out, and now the Washington Post prints a story with a similar narrative.

Here’s how the Post reports on how the bombardment in Gaza started:

The latest round of fighting began Saturday, when militants from a non-Hamas faction fired an antitank missile at an Israeli jeep traveling along the Israel-Gaza border, injuring four Israeli soldiers. Israel responded with shelling and firing that Gaza medical officials said killed at least four people, including two children, and wounded about two dozen others. Militants then fired about 130 rockets and mortar rounds at population centers of southern Israel over several days. After mediation from Egypt, the flare-up appeared to have waned by Tuesday.

But that’s now how “the latest round of fighting began.” The Institute for Middle East Understanding published an excellent timeline that shows how the fighting actually began:


Following a two-week lull in violence, Israeli soldiers invade Gaza. In the resulting exchange of gunfire with Palestinian fighters, a 12-year-old boy is killed by an Israeli bullet while he plays soccer.

Shortly afterwards, Palestinian fighters blow up a tunnel along the Gaza-Israel frontier, injuring one Israeli soldier.


An anti-tank missile fired by Palestinian fighters wounds four Israeli soldiers driving in a jeep along the Israel-Gaza boundary.

An Israeli artillery shell lands in a soccer field in Gaza killing two children, aged 16 and 17. Later, an Israeli tank fires a shell at a tent where mourners are gathered for a funeral, killing two more civilians, and wounding more than two dozen others.

As you can see, the escalation began when Israel killed a 12-year-old boy. The rockets and missiles fired in response were what the Gaza-based militant group Popular Resistance Committees called a “revenge invoice.” 

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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21 Responses

  1. Citizen
    November 15, 2012, 11:38 am

    The US cable TV news channels’ briefs are all singing the tune Israel was merely reacting to Palestinian assaults.

  2. pabelmont
    November 15, 2012, 11:42 am

    Who cares? The thing is POWERED (no, not by AA batteries, but) by the Siege (2006 – present) and the occupation (1967 – present) and the permanent exile of most Palestinians now living in Gaza from pre-1967 Israeli-controlled territory (1948 – present). EACH of these events was (or was started by) a voluntary (non-coerced) Israeli (or pre-Israeli) action.

    The recent murders, assassinations, blah and rocket fire too, are mere details.

    Furthermore, Israel as the strong power could exercise forbearance by ignoring the occasional and usually non-lethal rocket fire from Gaza. But no, instead of forbearance, Isrfael actually starts these things.

    Isrfael ? Leave the typo. Phooi.

    • AhVee
      November 15, 2012, 2:12 pm

      I agree. I’ve seldom witnessed such myopic media coverage as on the I / P issue, and pretty much every outlet I know of is guilty of this. Many reputable newspapers often provide fairly well-researched background information on conflicts abroad, and are usually fairly unbiased, I’m finding this completely lacking what concerns I / P commentary. The media are happy to lose themselves in endless deliberations over who “threw the first stone” (oftentimes, quite literally) in the latest escalation, and totally neglect to inform their readership of the background and origins of the conflict, obviously, this tendency runs entirely in Israel’s favor.
      Imagine a little “background info box” by the side of such articles that starts with “The conflict started when a significant stretch of land was given to the Jews by the west, which closed its eyes to the fact that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes…”. Yeah, that’s happening.

      • straightline
        November 15, 2012, 10:32 pm

        I have to say that the Australian Government Zionist Propaganda Organ called the ABC did surprisingly well this morning. Yesterday they had Mark Regev (ugh!) spouting his usual lies, and here is a transcript of Fran Kelly doing her fearless questioning of him – oh for a Jon Snow!


        But this morning they had Mustafa Barghouti on to set the record straight. Fran Kelly tried to trap him into saying that he supported violence by Hamas but he kept repeating that he believed in non-violent responses and that Israel had to bear the responsibility.

      • AhVee
        November 16, 2012, 10:10 pm

        Interesting read, thanks for the link.

    • Avi_G.
      November 15, 2012, 2:24 pm

      There was a truce that Israel violated.

      Israel is not interested in calm. And the assault on Gaza has nothing to do with security or safety or any of those platitudes that Israel likes to trot.

      The way Israel has dealt with gunfire and artillery shells launched from Syria in recent days is instructive, for several reasons.

  3. seafoid
    November 15, 2012, 12:26 pm

    If Americans knew..


    “The White House spokesman Jay Carney has condemned the rocket fire from Gaza, saying there is “no justification” for Hamas’s violence. He called on those responsible to stop the “cowardly acts” immediately.

    Carney said Hamas claimed to have the best interests of the Palestinians at heart, but its use of violence was counterproductive to the Palestianian cause, the Associated Press reports.”

    “No justification” is über chutzpah. What if Hamas said Palestine was the greatest nation in history (copyright M romney) ? Doesn’t that justify everything ?

    And where is the court for Palestinians in Gaza who are killed by Israel?


    as for “not in the best interests of Palestinians”, neither is listening to White House mouthpieces


    Sen. Cardin tells how he and Hillary Clinton muscled foreign ambassadors to block ‘anti-American’ Palestinian statehood


    QUESTION: So the next time Human Rights Watch comes out with a report that’s critical of Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians, I’ll assume that you’re going to be saying the same thing, correct; that you think that the report is credible, it’s based on eyewitness accounts?
    MS. NULAND: As —
    QUESTION: And you’re not going to say that it’s politically motivated and should be dismissed?
    MS. NULAND: Matt, as you have made clear again and again in this room, we are not always consistent.
    QUESTION: So, in other words, anything that Human Rights Watch says that is critical of someone you don’t like, that’s okay; but once they criticize someone that you do like, then it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on?
    MS. NULAND: Matt, I’m not going to get into colloquy on this one.

  4. Kathleen
    November 15, 2012, 12:34 pm

    Alex thanks so much for linking this timeline. I need them. As has often been the case over the decades U.S. MSM print news and anything that gets reported about I/P conflicts on MSM TV the report is always yes always starts with the Palestinians attacking first. They ALWAYS skip over Israeli generally purposeful provocations. Folks should link this timeline everywhere they can. Call into news outlets, national radio show, CSpans Washington Journal. Ask them why they are not covering this issue and if they are why they are not covering it accurately.

    Link everywhere you can.

    Thanks again Alex

    Oh yeah on NPR’s Diane Rehm show this morning not a whisper about this escalation. A show about airline pilots in the first hour which is generally focused on national or international politics. Rehm has never done a show completely focused on ever expanding Israeli illegal settlements or illegal housing in E Jerusalem. She used to be much braver. That last several years she seems to be losing her commitment to focusing on tough issues that may stir up the I lobby here in this country. Maybe her show started being targeted..phone calls, funding threatened. Something is up over there

  5. Kathleen
    November 15, 2012, 12:40 pm

    After the two week lull and Israel’s first invasion into Gaza who might this “non Hamas faction” who responded to Israel successful attempt to incite a riot?

    Alex what do you know about the Institute for Middle East Understanding? One thing that always gets me is how Israel has through the U.S. always vetoed (I believe 5 times) having UN International observers sent into the conflict particularly along the borders. Israel does not want outside witnesses observing their purposeful antagonism. Wonder if there is a second group who has verified the first actions of the Israeli’s in this most recent conflict?

  6. Betsy
    November 15, 2012, 1:32 pm

    Huffington Post coverage is also atrocious. I’ve been commenting there, trying to steer folks to Mondoweiss coverage — dunno if it’ll make any difference

    • Kathleen
      November 15, 2012, 6:50 pm

      Betsy it definitely steers people here. Have been doing this since the birth of Mondoweiss and Race for Iran. At first some of the links would not make it through the Huff Po moderators (seems it was left up to individual discretion) then more and more was allowed through. We are going back several years now especially with the Race for Iran website. And the coverage at Huff Po is pathetic. But what do you expect from a multi billion dollar enterprise?

      Keep linking to Mondoweiss and other critically important websites like Race for Iran, Informed Comment, Emptywheel etc. It helps. I know folks who have come here because of those links that they saw at Huff Po.

      We need to link that timeline that Alex posted above because as my oldest daughter just told me that when she was listening to NPR on her way home from work they started their report at Palestinians rockets into southern Israel. As if Israel did nothing to incite this riot. Leaving out the two days that Alex has posted above. Link this timeline everywhere you can. At Rachel Maddow’s blog, Ed, all MSNBC outlets etc

      • Betsy
        November 15, 2012, 10:19 pm

        good. I’ll keep at it…this timeline is crucial to circulate…

  7. David Doppler
    November 15, 2012, 1:46 pm

    Another aspect of slanted news coverage is displayed in connection with the Petraeus scandal. In other times, e.g., when our enemy was the Soviet Union and international communism, two attractive women chasing after powerful men, competing for their attention, would obviously raise the question, are they “honey traps” placed by foreign spy agencies to seduce our powerful men, in order to gain leverage over them? I have yet to see anyone even ask that question.

    But here’s Charles Krauthammer on Fox News
    accusing the Obama Administration of inappropriately using knowledge of the scandal to gain leverage over his own appointee, for his own political purposes [Obama the reincarnation of J. Edgar Hoover]. Mendacity knows no limit, as it appears that Eric Cantor, Republican Representative from Virginia and the House Majority Leader, and staunch Zionist, was the highest-level politician who had the news before the election, in late October, and therefore was in a position to use it to influence Patraeus. Did he try to do so? While the Libya fiasco makes good cover, there is also the background of the US military and some in the intelligence community resisting Israeli/WINEP efforts to involve the US in a war in Iran. Did Cantor’s [or others’ he might have passed the news to] efforts to use the scandal to influence Petraeus contribute to Petraeus’s decision to resign/Clapper’s request that he do so/Obama’s decision to accept the resignation? Again, I’ve yet to see anyone even raise those questions. Must avoid looking at elephant in room.

    Here’s Cantor feeding AIPAC raw meat about Obama’s lack of loyalty to Netanyahu,
    and in the LA Times attacking Walt and Mearsheimer. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-cantor12jan12,0,6398482.story

    Here Paul Kranz, Paula Broadwell’s father, asserting that there’s much more to the story [but maybe not being pursued by the WaPo or NYTimes]. http://www.businessinsider.com/paula-broadwell-father-paul-krantz-2012-11

    • Kathleen
      November 15, 2012, 6:52 pm

      Go watch David Corn and Micheal “hammered on Clinton for his blow jobs” Isikoff on Hardball last night. The laugh the whole Petraeus potential honey pot idea away. A much ado about nothing attitude. No way either of these two are going to look deeper into whether either one of these women could be associated with a foreign intelligence operation. Nothing here move on

      • David Doppler
        November 16, 2012, 11:18 am

        Hi Kathleen,

        Would you have a link to that? I couldn’t find it.

        One of the characteristics of the corruption in our DC elites is the immediate resort to personal attacks – “not serious,” “tinfoil hat,” “conspiracy theorists,” “liberal bloggers,” etc., to dismiss plausible lines of inquiry that threaten their power. What’s the old maxim, if you can win on the facts, argue the facts; if you can’t win on the facts, argue the law; and if you can’t win on the facts or the law, attack your opponent. In intellectually honest and uplifting cultures, people respect each other personally, while arguing the “facts” and the “law” passionately. In DC, people seldom rise above personal attacks. Facts and law are primarily useful to the extent they can be turned into stones to throw at personal enemies.

      • Kathleen
        November 16, 2012, 3:26 pm

        So sorry unable to link from this computer. But I will go get the name of the clip and date.. Over at Chris Matthews Hardball Nov 14th scroll down to “More Details in the growing Petraeus Scandal” Isikoff, Corn and Matthews were kind of yucking it up…nothing here…almost like we were in a guys locker room. Clearly neither one of these guys will be digging in. Emptywheel’s is the place to go for in depth analysis on this issue and many more issues

  8. mondonut
    November 15, 2012, 3:22 pm


    Following a two-week lull in violence…

    November 6: An IED explosion injured 3 Israeli soldiers. How is that not violence?

    October 29: 20 rockets and mortars hit the South of Israel. More non-violence?

  9. Kathleen
    November 15, 2012, 8:04 pm

    Betsy this issue up on top at Huff Po but lead with Israeli stats on dead, injured. Will be interesting to see if they keep this up as long as some of their more recent Romney headlines.

  10. clubroma
    November 16, 2012, 3:41 am

    When they write up the history of the Palestine/Isreal conflict, the role of the Western main stream media will receive a whole chapter. I know that a lot of people jump on the ‘blame the media’ bandwagon, but there can be no doubt that the Western media has appeased the State of Isreal for a very long time. You have to realise that, the Muslim world ( Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, etc. etc.) is very well informed by ‘their’ media about the situation in the West Bank and Gaza. For the last 20-25 years the Muslim world has been informed about the daily humiliation, degredation and abuse of the Palestinian people.
    Its easy to see why the Muslim world hates the West. Its also very easiy to see why there has been an increase in islamic extremist in the last 20 -25 years. If people in the West knew about what was happening in the West Bank and Gaza they would be horrified and disgusted. The Western media has hidden the truth from the people. The Western media has, prolonged the atrocities. Atrocities that continue today with the latest version of ‘election wars’.
    The world-wide ‘pro- Palestinian’ movement must ‘attack’ the Western media and its coverage of the conflict.

  11. piotr
    November 16, 2012, 5:13 am

    “Two week lull” is not much of a lull. What happened before?

    If I recall, a drone materialized over Mediterranean so IDF, ever cautious, did not shoot it over the sea where poor fish could get disturbed (and the drone could be just minding its own business after all) nor over Gaza where stray bullets could hurt innocent civilians but patiently waited until the drone was over a desert where it was shot down without hurting anyone, perhaps a stray scorpion. For all the good work IDF was derided (no good deed is ever left unpunished) so it was in a bad need to get the troop morale up. Hence the usual combination: sonic booms over Lebanon and killing some militants in Gaza. That started a bit of bruhaha that lasted about two weeks.

    This is my biased recollection following principle Post hoc ergo propter hoc (Hocum in Post is proper hocum). Some observers point out that there is always a good reason to make sonic booms over Lebanon (harmless really, doing it over bucolic Virginia countryside would be unjustifiably startling, but in Lebanon everybody is used to it) and there is always a good time to kill some militants in Gaza.

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