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Thursday, October 19, 2023

Media Fall for Hamas Disinformation

 Elliot Kaufman at WSJ:

It was a lie. Hamas said Tuesday that an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza City hospital killed at least 500 Palestinians. Turns out it wasn’t Israeli, it wasn’t an airstrike, it didn’t hit the hospital, nowhere close to 500 people were killed, and Hamas knew it.

This has been confirmed independently by the Pentagon, according to President Biden and the National Security Council; by an intercept and drone and radar footage released by the Israeli military; and perhaps most persuasively by looking at the hospital in daylight. The evidence indicates that a rocket launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad is the likely culprit.

The question is why the media and so many others ran with the story of Israeli war crimes. They did so on nothing but the word of the jihadist group that committed the largest mass slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust.

“Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say,” read the initial New York Times headline. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) announced on Twitter: “Bombing a hospital is among the gravest of war crimes. The IDF reportedly blowing up one of the few places the injured and wounded can seek medical treatment and shelter during a war is horrific. @POTUS needs to push for an immediate ceasefire to end this slaughter.”
The trend everywhere was to let Hamas drive the story, leading readers astray. “BREAKING: The Gaza Health Ministry says at least 500 people killed in an explosion at a hospital that it says was caused by an Israeli airstrike,” the Associated Press wrote in a tweet seen 13 million times. The Gaza Health Ministry is controlled by Hamas. The AP’s subsequent clarification that Israel attributed the strike to a Palestinian rocket has fewer than 200,000 views. But the friendly-fire explanation should always have been plausible and held out as a possibility. Israel doesn’t target hospitals, and it had already counted some 450 Palestinian rockets that fell inside Gaza.