How the AP Botched Its Investigation of Civilian Deaths in the Israel-Hamas War

(New York Observer) Richard Behar and Gary Weiss - On Feb. 13, 2015, the Associated Press published an article that gave its readers a disturbing picture of Israel as indiscriminately slaughtering civilians during last summer's war with Hamas in Gaza. We conducted an investigation of the AP investigation and found that the news agency reached faulty conclusions based on selective information, cherry-picked quotes, and a survey set into motion by politically biased NGOs. For example, the lead photo shows a child standing amid the wreckage where his father, mother and two siblings were killed in an Israeli airstrike. The posed photo identifies his father - a Hamas commander - as a "Hamas policeman." Libby Weiss, head of the North American media desk for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), told us that "Mostafa Jamal Malakeh, born in 1983, was part of the Hamas rocket apparatus in Zeitoun, and was responsible for firing rockets into various areas in Israel." Reuven Erlich, who heads the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, points out that Malakeh was omitted from casualty lists generated by Hamas-affiliated agencies, even though his wife and child were on such lists. Erlich confirmed that Malakeh was identified in a YouTube memorial video as a local commander in the "Al-Zeitoun Battalions" of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. How did the AP get the idea for this article? AP says, "In the initial stages, the AP's reporting was guided by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, a Gaza human rights group, and the Israeli rights group, B'Tselem." Both organizations have a widely known political agenda hostile to Israeli policies. Al Mezan once attempted to bring former prime minister Ehud Barak to trial for "war crimes" in the wake of previous hostilities in Gaza. Not describing the political agenda of these groups appears to violate the AP's code of ethics. Eado Hecht, a defense analyst from the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, points out that the AP focused on fatalities killed within houses, while approximately 2,500 Palestinian rockets and mortars were fired deliberately or by mistake into Palestinian residential areas by Hamas. Thus, he said, it is not clear how many of the casualties cited by the AP were a result of such "friendly fire."

2015-03-12 00:00:00

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