Hamas does not discriminate between Israeli soldiers, civilians, men, women, children or babies when it carries out terror attacks. For Hamas, they are all potential soldiers and legitimate targets. That’s why Israelis and most of the media knew exactly what Hamas meant when it boasted of killing 1365 “Zionist soldiers” over the 24 years of its existence.
But not the Financial Times, which published the following, referring to “Israeli soldiers” of the purely military kind:
We pointed this out on our Backspin blog at the time as it is important to understand that Hamas deliberately targets civilians and soldiers alike. Stating that Hamas has killed only soldiers whitewashes the indiscriminate murderous agenda of the organization and is, of course, an inaccurate report of what Hamas really stated.
Thinking that the Financial Times had committed an innocuous error, we contacted the paper asking for a correction. This was the response:
thank your for your email, which I followed up with Tobias Buck , our Jerusalem bureau chief, and we don’t feel a correction is warranted. The column clearly attributes its claims to Hamas in Gaza. The statement was carried on the official Qassam Brigades website and referred to “1385 Zionist soldiers”. We and all other outlets tend to translate “Zionist” into “Israeli”, since that is what they mean. Hamas was clearly not talking about civilians. Below are links to the Hamas web site and AFP wire from that day, which also refers to “Israeli soldiers”.
If Hamas was “clearly not talking about civilians,” then how does Tobias Buck explain Israeli human rights organization (and a favorite source for the international media) B’Tselem’s own casualty statistics dating back to 1987 when Hamas was formed?
Unlike Hamas, B’Tselem does distinguish between civilian and military casualties on both Israeli and Palestinian sides. So we totaled the number of Israeli soldiers and civilians killed by Palestinians (including all terror groups and not only Hamas) and came up with the following:
- 492 members of the Israeli security forces killed by Palestinians
- 1025 Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians
- Total number of Israelis killed by Palestinians, Dec. 1987 – present: 1517
Had Tobias Buck bothered to do some simple fact-checking, he would have realized that Hamas could not possibly be referring to only soldiers when it quoted a figure of 1365, also bearing in mind that out of the 492 soldiers and 1025 civilians, other Palestinian terror groups would be responsible for a proportion of those fatalities.
Even the Al-Qassam website that the FT refers to in its own email to HonestReporting is titled “Al-Qassam carried out 1106 operations, killed 1365 Zionists.” Not 1365 Zionist soldiers or Israeli soldiers but simply Zionists. According to the FT, it tends “to translate “Zionist” into “Israeli”, since that is what they mean.” In this case this is exactly what Hamas means – Israelis.
If, as the FT states, it merely repeated the Hamas claims word-for-word, then it should have published the quote as is i.e. referring to “Zionist soldiers” and added the caveat that this actually referred to all Israelis irrespective of military or civilian status.
Instead, the FT (and the AFP) has unilaterally changed the meaning of Hamas’s words thus sanitizing the reality of the Hamas agenda – to indiscriminately kill as many Israelis as possible.
That the FT has refused point-blank to amend or correct its error is simply unethical and unprofessional journalism.
We will be following up with the FT to demand a correction and acknowledgement of the error. In the meantime, you can also add your voice to this call by writing to the Financial Times – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Image: CC BY-SA HonestReporting.com, flickr/gerlos.