Palestinian media, activists report half the news

Spinning, leaving out key details transform reports into propaganda

Muhammad Bakr Hussein, 3, a Palestinian victim of an Israeli mob attack on his village. He was reported to have been in serious condition. Israeli TV showed him, hours later, at the Beersheba hospital, where he received treatment. Israeli police arrested three of the assailants. None of the attack’s aftermath was reported in Palestinian media or on anti-Israel activists’ accounts.

Settlers near southern Hebron raided a Palestinian town, hurling its residents with stones, causing injuries and provoking Palestinians to retaliate. The pro-Palestinian Authority daily Al-Ayyam headlined “injuries, including a child in critical condition, result from beastly settlers’ attack.” The paper posted a sliver of a picture showing a boy lying on a stretcher, intubated, with his eyes closed.

In its newscast, Israeli Kan 11 TV also reported on the attack, showing broken Palestinian windshields and interviewing Palestinians who narrated what happened. Kan 11 followed the kid to the hospital and interviewed his dad. The dad had a Hebrew sticker on his chest that read “escort” (see top picture). His son Muhammad Bakr Hussein was rushed to an Israeli hospital, Soroka Medical Center, in Beersheba.

On TV, the kid looked fine, nowhere near being in critical condition. The poor thing must have been traumatized, but thankfully he looked ok, except that, you will not read that he survived anywhere in the Palestinian press, or on the websites of Israeli groups — such as Btselem — that monitor only when Palestinians suffer harm, but never how these same Palestinians are saved by Israeli paramedics and hospitals.

Btselem does not report when a Palestinian kill an Israeli, or when Israel takes legal action against Jewish assailants or offers medical care to Palestinian victims. It is only one specific image that Btselem and accounts like it report: One showing Israelis assaulting, breaking, shooting at Palestinians, or Palestinians as victims.

In the Palestinian media the story began and ended with Israelis attacking Palestinians, causing one hospitalization in “critical condition” (see bottom picture). But the story did not really end there. The Times of Israel reported that Israeli police arrested three “Jewish suspects in attack on Palestinians in the southern Hebron Hills.” The paper also reported that Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned “Israelis hurling rocks at Palestinians as ‘terror,’ and [said] perpetrators should be ‘brought to justice’.”

So while Israel enforced laws against Israeli assailants on Palestinians, readers of Palestinian media or activist accounts would have thought that attackers got away with impunity.

Failure in reporting on the Hebron clashes was not incidental, but part of a pattern. A similar example could be observed in news from December 2020, when Israeli Jewish citizen Esther Horgan went out on her morning jog and ran into Palestinian Muhammad Marwah Kabha, who killed her.

Despite receiving help from friends and family, who helped him hide, Kabha was arrested and stood trial, where he confessed to his crime.

In February 2021, Israel blew up Kabha house as punishment. While many argue that house demolition is unethical punishment, consider that, had Israel executed Kabha, his family would have received a monthly “martyr’s family” salary. Such compensation incentivizes Palestinians to commit suicide attacks. Death becomes a good source of income for the rest of the family, and takes out a a potent tool of Israeli law enforcement. The house demolition punishment was thus born.

When Israel demolished Kabha’s house, this is how the Palestinian official news agency, WAFA, reported it: “Occupation blows up the house of POW Muhammad Kabha in Tora Village south of Jenin.” WAFA also said that Kabha’s 180 sqm (1940 square foot) residence housed his family of four children and their mother.

The Palestinian news agency did not offer any background on Kabha’s murder of Horgan, and only said that Kabha had been under arrest since December 24, and that his brother was serving a prison sentence of six and a half years.

Not every Israeli move is justifiable or ethical. Just like every other nation in the world, Israel has good people and bad people. It has criminals and law enforcers. But to spin every Israeli law enforcement and make it look like unprovoked and whimsical harassment of Palestinians is terrible. Reporting half the news is an organized and systematic campaign of vilifying the Jewish state and instigating world opinion against it.

So readers should know — whenever reading Palestinian media, surfing Btselem’s website or getting news from social media accounts — that these are not honest or professional sources of news. These are tools of propaganda that take news reports out of context and spin them into lies and hatred.

Picture of same three-year old Muhammad Bakr Hussein when he was being carried to the hospital. This picture circulated widely, especially on Palestinian media and anti-Israel accounts. Later pictures of the boy doing well, after receiving treatment at an Israeli hospital, were nowhere to be found.