NYT Tries to Excuse Report that ‘Israeli Strike’ Hit Gaza Hospital, Based on Hamas-Run ‘Gaza Health Ministry’ Communication

The New York Times made excuses on Wednesday for previously reporting that an “Israeli Strike” blew up a Gaza hospital, information the paper based on the Hamas-run “Gaza health ministry” spokesperson’s communications.

Times reporter Katie Robertson, who covers the media industry, wrote an 878-word article explaining why the paper twice revised the reckless claim, alleging the explosion highlights “the difficulties of reporting on a fast-moving war in which few journalists remain on the ground.”

Robertson did admit the paper ran the story, which was contrary to emerging evidence, per a “spokeswoman for the Gaza health ministry.” However, Robertson omitted the ministry’s almost synonymous association with the Hamas terror organization:

The first reports of a strike at the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City came early Tuesday afternoon Eastern time. A spokeswoman for the Gaza health ministry said an Israeli airstrike had caused the explosion, killing at least 200 people. In a televised interview, a health ministry spokesman later said the death toll exceeded 500 — which the ministry later changed to “hundreds.”
The news changed quickly over a couple of hours. Many Western news organizations, including The New York Times, reported the Gazan claims in prominent headlines and articles. They adjusted the coverage after the Israeli military issued a statement urging “caution” about the Gazan allegation. The news organizations then reported the Israeli military’s assertion that the blast was the result of a failed rocket launch by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an armed group aligned with Hamas.

After the Tuesday blast, the Times immediately ran the headline: “Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say.” The paper went on to change the title two times to reflect less blame against Israel for the tragic explosion.

The second headline dropped the Israeli accusation but still called the blast a “strike.” “At Least 500 Dead in Strike on Gaza Hospital, Palestinians Say,” it read.  The third headline dropped the word strike, a word that could insinuate an Israeli airstrike. “At Least 500 Dead in Blast at Gaza Hospital, Palestinians Say,” it read.

Mark Levin, conservative radio host and litigator, noted during his Wednesday radio show the Times headlines still confuse the Palestinian ethnic group with the Hamas terrorist organization by citing “Palestinians” as its source for the headlines. “Just to be clear, the New York Times has reached the conclusion, perhaps unwittingly, that Palestinians and Hamas are the same thing,” he explained. “But they will never admit it,” he told his audience.

Breitbart News’s Joel Pollak reported the evidence that suggested the hospital explosion was not from an Israeli airstrike, but from a failed Hamas rocket, one of many that have landed within the Gaza Strip during the course of the war:

The IDF determined none of its forces were operating in, or targeting, the area of the hospital. It studied radar it uses to intercept Palestinian rockets to determine that a barrage of rockets had been fired along a path that intersected with the airspace above the hospital.
It also studied surveillance camera footage of the Gaza Strip, and concluded an errant Palestinian rocket was to blame.
The IDF released an intercepted recording of a phone call between two Hamas operatives discussing the hospital explosion, and saying that the rocket had been launched by PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] from a cemetery next to the hospital (itself a violation of international law).

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.

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