Opinion

When does the media completely ignore Israel dropping a bomb?

Answer: When a senior Israeli security official reveals that Palestinian terrorists were on the verge of opening a dangerous new front against Israeli civilians.

Terrorist groups launch rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip, on May 13, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.
Terrorist groups launch rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip, on May 13, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.
Tamar Sternthal
Tamar Sternthal
Tamar Sternthal is director of the Israel office of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

Last week, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) head Ronen Bar dropped a bomb, sharing stunning news widely reported in Israeli media but virtually ignored in foreign media outlets. Referring to the three Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders killed on May 9 in the opening strikes of Israel’s “Operation Shield and Arrow” Bar revealed that one of them, Tarek az-Aldin, had operated 20 terror cells in Judea and Samaria—including one near Jenin that had already begun producing rockets and launchers.

The production of rockets and launchers in Jenin and attack drones in Ramallah marks a new phase in Palestinian terrorists’ attempts to harm Israeli civilians, further raising the risk of bloodshed and violent conflagration. But the international media remained virtually silent on this point, with the notable exceptions of Gulf Times and CNN.

The former reported: “Islamic Jihad confirmed the death of the commanders, Jihad Ghannam and Tareq Izzeldeen — who an Israeli military spokesman said orchestrated operations in the West Bank and sought to bring rockets to the city of Jenin — as well as Khalil al-Bahtini who co-ordinated rockets fired at Israel a week earlier [from Gaza].”

CNN, for its part, aired a clip from Ronen Bar’s press statement and followed up with an insightful interview with Yaakov Katz, in which the former editor of The Jerusalem Post spelled out the implications of this dangerous new development:

“You know, ultimately, look, just like they were able to create this production assembly line in the Gaza Strip, even despite Israeli efforts to stop it and how impressive a capability they have today. With the rockets there, they could already reach Tel Aviv. So, do they really need a rocket capability in the West Bank on those mountains of the Samaria that look down into Israel’s coast, which includes Tel Aviv, Herzliya and other parts of the country? I’m not exactly sure if they need it.

“But on the other hand, that would be a huge escalation. The reason they don’t have it yet though is because Israel does have operational freedom in the West Bank. And we see periodical operations, weekly, pretty much, inside some of these terror havens inside the West Bank, places like Jenin, Nablus and other parts of the Palestinian territories.

“Israel has been able to stop that from happening, but it’s possible, John, like you said, it’s a matter of time when they get that, but that would be seen as another escalation.

“Remember, Israel has a rocket threat from Gaza. We’ve had rockets from Lebanon. We’ve had rockets from Syria. The last thing this country wants is another rocket front on its eastern border.”

By comparison, in May 14 coverage of the ceasefire, Agence France Presse, in both English and Arabic, failed to even note the eliminated trio’s responsibility for earlier attacks on civilians, including the firing of 104 rockets and mortars at communities in southern Israel just one week earlier (see: “Gaza ceasefire takes effect after five days of deadly fighting“).

The article elliptically reports: “The current bout of violence erupted on Tuesday when Israeli strikes on Gaza killed three leading Islamic Jihad members. Three other senior figures from the Palestinian militant group were killed in later strikes.”
At no point does the article mention that the three were responsible for a barrage of rockets targeting Israeli civilians just one week earlier.
By contrast, the Associated Press reported in recent days: “The latest violence erupted Tuesday when Israeli airstrikes killed three senior Islamic Jihad commanders.Israel said the airstrikes were in response to a burst of rocket fire the previous week and that its attacks have been focused on Islamic Jihad targets. But residents in Gaza said homes of people uninvolved in fighting also had been struck.”
Similarly, Reuters also provided context about who these targeted PIJ leaders were and what they had done, reporting: “Israel launched the latest round of airstrikes in the early hours of Tuesday, announcing that it was targeting Islamic Jihad commanders who had planned attacks in Israel.” 
Tamar Sternthal is director of CAMERA’s Israel Office.

This article was originally published by CAMERA.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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