The Washington Post published an article today by their Jerusalem correspondent William Booth about “seven major attacks against Israelis in Israel and the West Bank over the past two weeks.” The seven attacks cited in the report date back to June 19, and include shootings and stabbings that have targeted Israelis at military checkpoints and near illegal settlements.
However, it is only near the end of the piece that the Post acknowledges how “there has also been violence from the Israeli side” during the period in question, citing the shooting of an unarmed Palestinian at a checkpoint on June 30. It also references the shooting of a Palestinian teenager this morning (though at the time of writing, does not mention the fact he died).
This one paragraph on “violence from the Israeli side” whitewashes two weeks of routine violence directed at Palestinians by both Israeli forces and settlers. According to UN OCHA, from June 16-29, a similar time frame to the period covered by the Post, Israeli forces injured 28 Palestinians in different incidents. There were also 10 attacks by Israeli settlers that damaged Palestinian property.
Attacks omitted by the Post include: June 20, Israeli forces shot a Palestinian child with live ammunition; June 27, Israeli forces again shot a Palestinian child; June 30, Israeli forces shot a Palestinian with a rubber-coated metal bullet; June 30, settlers assaulted a 60-year-old Palestinian man; July 2, Israeli forces shot three Palestinians during a raid on Dheisheh refugee camp.
The article does not make even one reference to the fact that the West Bank is under Israeli military occupation. The illegality of Israeli settlements is also not mentioned. Even an Israeli newspaper, analysing the “current wave” of attacks, thought to note as a factor “the Palestinians’ long-standing opposition to the Israeli occupation.”
Bethlehem’s ‘Checkpoint 300’, meanwhile, is described as a “turnstile through the high gray concrete wall that separates the Palestinian territory in the West Bank from Israel.” This is misleading; the checkpoint lies inside the West Bank, thus actually separating one part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory from another part (85 percent of the Wall is inside the West Bank).
Finally, the article claims politicians have urged security forces to “reverse decisions to loosen travel restrictions [for Palestinians] to Jerusalem during Ramadan.” In fact, Israel’s military has already revoked one of its Ramadan ‘concessions’, so that all Palestinian men under 50 and women under 30 will require a permit to visit Occupied East Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa mosque.
Disappearing Israel’s violent enforcement of a half century-long colonial occupation means another explanation for Palestinian attacks is required – and the Post uncritically cites Israeli suggestions such as “anti-Israel programming on TV”, “incitement” at the local mosque, or simply “Ramadan.”
In its inaccuracies and omissions, the Post’s article is a microcosm of the way in which the mainstream media distorts and misrepresents the reality in Palestine, whitewashing Israeli violence and colonial control, and decontextualising attacks by Palestinians under occupation.