[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch contains a series of mostly short notes concerning the reporting by Reuters, the AP, the Guardian, and others of attacks on Israelis in recent days.


1. Notes about Reuters “disgracefully misleading” coverage of Wednesday’s Jerusalem bus stop bomb.
2. Text of Reuters report on the Jerusalem bus stop bomb.
3. Not mentioned: one of Israeli dead was black and the other a teenager.
4. Suicide bomber was Palestinian TV presenter from wealthy family.
5. Note to AP: The injured were targets, not “bystanders.”
6. “Human flesh wafted in the air.”
7. “Israelis fear their own terrorists,” reads the headline.
8. Afula Suicide Bombing Attack Prevented.
9. Seven Female Suicide Bombers Since Rosh Hashanah.
10. Four more Israelis killed in last 24 hours.
11. Shock in Arab world as Iraqi PM shakes hands with Israeli FM.
12. The Guardian today: A British “occupier” is kidnapped in Iraq and suddenly words like “terror,” “slaughter,” and “murder” appear all over the Guardian – that is, except in their report today on Palestinian “fighters” shooting Israelis.

Notes about reuters coverage of Wednesday’s Jerusalem bus bomb: “Disgracefully Misleading”

This note comes from a veteran and highly respected journalist in the Middle East and was written on Thursday, September 22, 2004.

“The report yesterday by Reuters on the suicide bombing in Jerusalem is perhaps the most disgraceful misleading reporting I have ever seen.

In the third paragraph, Reuters suggests that the French Hill bus stop – one of Jerusalem’s busiest bus stops – is some kind of military target.

Reuters claim that the bomb exploded “as she approached a security position near a hitch-hiking post used mostly by soldiers.”

I was there within five minutes of the explosion and interviewed witnesses. The bomber’s target was clearly the two busy bus stops at this intersection. There were about 45 people – ordinary civilian passengers – waiting at the bus stops, and about two thirds of them were injured. The bizarrely-described “security position” which Reuters suggest was the target is a flimsy rain/sun shelter for the police who guard the bus stops against attacks precisely like yesterday’s. Reuters knows perfectly well that these guards are employed these by the bus company in order to protect passengers against suicide bombers and this is precisely what they did.

The bomber blew herself up prematurely after being approached by the two guards whose alertness reduced the damage to “mere” injuries – and cost them their lives. Almost all the injured were civilians, including a 9-year-old boy who was badly wounded.

When the security officers observed the bomber’s suspicious behavior, they asked to see her to show her identity papers, and to open her bag for inspection. The bomber then almost immediately set off the explosives she was wearing on her back.

The bomber was only yards from the crowded bus stops. The blood and bits of flesh were everywhere. For Reuters to suggest or hint that this was a military target is disgraceful.

Tom Gross: Indeed Saeb Erekat admits at the end of this Reuters bulletin that the targets were civilians.

Furthermore, later on Wednesday the Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie also acknowledged that the targets were civilians, when he said: “We condemn the killing of civilians and reiterate that such attacks harm our cause.”

And some honest newspapers made clear the target was a bus stop.

For example:

  • Amarillo Globe-News, in Texas. (Headline: “Jerusalem bus station bombed.”)
  • The Argus Online, California (Headline: “Female suicide bomber kills two at bus stop.”)

Prof. Gerald Steinberg also adds in relation to the Reuters report below:

In paragraph 2, before Reuters has even reported on the terror attack, they offer a highly selective and politicized mini-version of history.

In Paragraph 3, Reuters repeats Palestinian propaganda that turns all Israeli civilians into “military targets”.

Reuters Report on Jerusalem Suicide Bomb

Woman Suicide Bomber Kills 2 in Jerusalem
Wed 22 September, 2004 17:24
by Matt Spetalnick

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A Palestinian woman suicide bomber has blew herself up near a hitch-hiking post in Jerusalem, killing two people and wounding 15 in the first such attack in the city in seven months.

The blast on Wednesday tore through the mainly Jewish district of French Hill in East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move not recognised internationally.

Witnesses said a young woman, wearing a headscarf, blew herself up as she approached a security position near a hitch-hiking post used mostly by soldiers.

“She threw her head back and then there was an explosion,” one witness, Debbie Segal, told Army Radio. “A few seconds later, her body burst into flames.”

The blast — which sprayed body parts and broken glass over the pavement — shattered a sense of security that had begun returning to public places in Jerusalem, hardest hit by such attacks during a four-year-old Palestinian uprising.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group in President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, claimed responsibility, saying it was avenging Israel’s recent killing of several of its members in the West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin.

After ambulances cleared away the dead and wounded, workers from ultra-Orthodox funeral societies went to work picking up bits of flesh and bone for burial under Jewish law.

“In many cases we prevent heavy disasters. Sometimes things happen like what happened today,” said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who learned of the bombing while being interviewed by Israeli television ahead of the Yom Kippur fasting day, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

“But we intend to continue our struggle against terror with all force,” he vowed.

Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said: “We condemn this attack and any attack that targets civilians, whether Palestinians or Israelis.”

Not mentioned: One of Israeli dead was black and the other a teenager

Tom Gross writes:

Mainly as a result of Reuters and AP not reporting this, not a single newspaper internationally that I have seen mentioned that one of the victims of the Jerusalem bus stop bomb was black, an Ethiopian immigrant, aged 20, and the other was a teenager (who also had a job working as a waiter in a banquet hall). This will only add to the misinformed comments made by international diplomats, including Kofi Annan who said last year that the Israeli-Palestinian pitted “whites” (Jews) against “brown people” (Palestinians).

Suicide Bomber Was Palestinian TV Presenter From Wealthy Family

The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reports that the wealthy family of Wednesday’s suicide bomber, Zainab Ali Issa Abu Salem, own a local Palestinian television station. And the bomber herself had spent the last three months – her break between high school and university studies – fulfilling the dream of many teenagers, becoming a television star. A presenter on a children’s show broadcast by her parents’ TV station.

David Frankfurter, a political commentator and a subscriber to this list, adds:

“How she was recruited, what pressures were brought to bear, what indoctrination she received in school – at this stage are all matters of speculation. Could it be that she simply internalized the messages in video clips encouraging children to terror on Palestinian TV? Sadly, whatever led her to the deed, Palestinian children have been given yet another role model to be hero worshipped and emulated. Something that will no doubt be reinforced in every re-run of their favorite TV show.”

Note to AP: The injured were targets, not ‘bystanders’

Michael Weinstein, a media commentator and a subscriber to this list, writes:

“In their reports on the suicide bomb, the Associated Press described the wounded as “bystanders” when they were undeniably the intended target of the terrorist.”

“Human Flesh Wafted in the Air”

The Jerusalem Post adds:

The 3:40 p.m. blast completely gutted the hitchhiking station, sending chunks of human flesh flying into the city’s main northern thoroughfare, and spraying shards of glass onto the busy road.

“I saw the terrorist coming, I knew she was a terrorist straight away, you could see the tension in her face,” recalled eyewitness Avigail Hilini. “She was totally covered in a large brown shawl, except for her face and eyes. I saw that the Border Policeman checked her, and then she exploded. Seconds later I saw people running everywhere and I ran myself. I started shaking and crying.”

As the smell of burnt rubber and human flesh wafted in the air, paramedics and rescue officials rushed the injured to hospital, the more serious raced on stretchers inside wailing ambulances. Police and rescue workers, some covered in plastic white chemical jumpsuits, scoured the ground for pieces of the bomb and human remains.

The two guards killed in the blast were identified as Mamoya Tahio, 20 from Rehovot and Menache Komeni, 19, of Moshav Aminadav on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Counterterrorism experts have speculated that Palestinian terror groups are increasingly using women for their attacks because they raise less suspicion among Israeli security officials.

Israelis Fear Their Own Terrorists, reads the headline

Tom Gross writes:

Many newspapers around the world barely reported on the suicide bombing. Instead, in their editions on the morning after the bombing (September 23, 2004) they carried a different kind of headline: “Israelis fear their own terrorists.” (This was a piece syndicated from the New York Daily News that appeared in papers all over the US yesterday.)

For example, here is the heading of an article in a newspaper in South Carolina:
TheState.com/mld/state/news/opinion/9735739.htm Posted on Thursday, September 23, 2004 Israelis fear their own terrorists

[Some other papers changed the word “terrorist” to “militant” in their headlines on this same piece.]

Afula Suicide Bombing Attack Prevented

Yesterday, 23 September 2004, a bomb weighing over seven kilograms (15.5 lbs) intended for a suicide attack in Afula was located in the Galilee by the Israeli intelligence services. The would-be bomber was a member of the Fatah Tanzim in the Jenin area.

Seven Female Suicide Bombers Since Rosh haShanah

According to Israeli intelligence, seven female suicide bombers left the Nablus area after Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) began 8 days ago. So far, two have been apprehended, two turned themselves in earlier in the week (as reported in the Israeli but not in international press), but one managed to blow herself up in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Four More Israelis Killed in Last 24 Hours as Israel’s Holiest Day, Yom Kippur, Approaches

This morning an Israeli woman (24-year-old Tifferet Tratner) was murdered in the living room of her home by a mortar fired into her house by Hamas. She was in the midst of preparing for Yom Kippur (the day of atonement).

Yesterday, 23 September 2004, three Israeli guards were shot dead as they protected civilians at the Morag settlement. Yasser Arafat’s Fatah organization and the Islamic Jihad jointly claimed responsibility in a leaflet delivered to news agencies.

Those Israelis shot dead were Tal Bardugo, 22, from Jerusalem; Nir Sami, 21, from Jerusalem; Yisrael Lutati, 20, from N’vei Dekalim.

Shock As Iraqi PM Shakes Hands with Israeli FM

Arab newspapers have slammed Iraqi PM Allawi for shaking hands with Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom at the UN general assembly in New York.

The Guardian Today: A Briton is Kidnapped and suddenly words like “Terror,” “Slaughter,” “Murder” appear all over the paper – that is, except in their two stories on Palestinian “Fighters.”

A Briton is kidnapped in Iraq, and the Guardian (International edition) today (September 24, 2004) suddenly uses harsh language.

Says the Guardian:

  • The group holding a British hostage in Iraq is a “terrorist group” (page 1, page 4, page 5). Other hostages have already been “murdered,” they say.

  • Italian hostages in Iraq may have been “slaughtered” (page 6).

  • “Fanatics cannot be appeased,” reads the headline on page 18.

Yet: In a footnote tagged onto (yet another Guardian) “news report” comparing Israel with “apartheid South Africa” (page 10, today), the Palestinians who shot dead three Israelis yesterday are called “fighters”.

And a chunk of an editorial today – written by one of their Baghdad reporters Jonathan Steele about the Iraq hostage crisis (page 16, titled “Humiliated and impotent, every Iraqi is a hostage now”) – is turned into another highly inaccurate Israel-bashing exercise by The Guardian.