Who Hit First?

Dear Friend,

Palestinian violence against Israel escalated this week in an alarming fashion. On Monday evening, April 16, Palestinian gunners fired five mortars into the Israeli town of Sderot, a Negev town 3 miles from the Gaza strip. Within hours, the Israeli army responded, hitting Palestinian military installations and bulldozing areas from which the mortars were fired.

CNN’s web report, “Israel steps up military action,” emphasizes Israel’s attacks and portrays Israel as the aggressor. The story opens dramatically, “Israel has launched air, land and sea strikes on Gaza in the most intensive raids of the seven months of violence.”

Only in the 9th paragraph does CNN obliquely refer to a “mortar bombardment.” In the 16th paragraph — 400 words into the story — CNN finally presents the broader picture that the Israeli action was in retaliation for the Palestinian attacks. “Israel said the overnight attacks came after five mortar bombs hit the southern Israeli town of Sderot, about five km (three miles) from Gaza, earlier in the day.”

CNN handles Israel’s bombing of Lebanon in a similarly biased fashion. In the second paragraph, CNN reports that the Israeli “assault” came “after Israel launched its first bombing raid on a Syrian army position in Lebanon for five years, killing three soldiers.” Only in the 24th paragraph does CNN reveal that the Israeli air raid was in direct response to a Hizbollah attack that killed an Israeli soldier.

CNN accompanies its story with a gallery of Reuters photographs with the caption, “Gaza’s Police Headquarters was among Israel’s targets.”

If you believe the CNN coverage shows bias, send your complaints to:


The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words. Otherwise, you may cut-and-paste the critique below. **Please do not forward this page directly with HonestReporting’s comments.**

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.



To the Editor:

CNN’s coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict exhibits serious biases against Israel. On April 17, your website story, “Israel steps up military action,” portrays Israel as the aggressor against Palestinians. Only in the 16th paragraph does CNN present Israel’s case that it was reacting to Palestinian mortars fired on the Israeli town of Sderot.

Only in the 24th paragraph does the CNN story reveal that the Israeli air raid against a Syrian missile base was in response to a Hizbollah attack that killed an Israeli soldier. By omitting facts and distorting the true nature of the fighting, CNN presents a very one-sided and biased account.

Could you please explain the logic of this lopsided reporting?


A Reuters photograph was recently published by news agencies worldwide, showing a Palestinian child being arrested by Israeli police, who in his fear, wet his pants. Pro-Palestinian groups also widely distributed this dramatic picture, in order to gain sympathy for their cause.

What was not shown, however, was a photo taken by Reuters just a few minutes earlier — depicting the same “innocent little boy” rioting against Israeli forces.

Please let us know (action@honestreporting.com) if your local newspaper omitted the riot photo and printed only the “wet pants” photo.

You can see both photos online.