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James North – Mondoweiss May 5, 2018

Another Friday of mass demonstrations in Gaza’s Great March of Return means another effort by the New York Times to distort the truth — and today’s article shows the usual dishonest contortions.

The Times report is mainly about an effort by some of the Gazan marchers to set kites on fire and fly them over the border to ignite fields on the Israeli side — what the Times calls a “battle plan” —  that failed because the winds blew in the wrong direction. Fully 21 paragraphs of the article are about the dangerous kites, as are all three photos in both the online and print editions.

But you have to wait until the 7th paragraph to learn that the Israeli army continued yesterday to use its “battle plan” — by firing live ammunition at the Palestinians, wounding 121 of the protesters. There are no photographs of the Israeli snipers or of the wounded Palestinians.

Let’s see how a less biased news outlet covered yesterday’s demonstrations. Here are the first sentences of the Associated Press report:

Black smoke from burning tires mixed with streaks of tear gas fired by Israeli forces on Friday as several thousand Palestinians staged a sixth weekly protest on the Gaza-Israel border. At least 70 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire, the lowest casualty toll since the protests began.

The AP — which is hardly a radical news gathering organization — does mention the flaming kites, but not until the 4th paragraph, and it does not dwell on them.

The AP also reports that human rights groups are protesting Israel’s military tactics:

Rights groups say Israeli open-fire regulations are unlawful because they permit troops to use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters. Israel’s Supreme Court is currently weighing a petition by six rights groups to restrict or ban the use of live fire on the border.

The New York Times nowhere mentions any human rights organizations or the case before the Israeli high court.

Even the Times details about the flaming kites themselves are suspect. The paper says the kites caused “heavy damage” over the past week on the Israeli side of the border, setting crops on fire, including destroying “nearly 400 acres of wheat.” But somehow Times reporters did not visit to inspect this “heavy damage,” and where are the photos of these allegedly blazing wheat fields?

The Times also follows its now standard practice of nowhere reporting that during the weeks of protest not one single Israeli has even been scratched, while the Israeli military has slaughtered more than 40 Gazans and wounded 6000 more.

The Times article did have one valuable interview, with a 26-year-old Gazan kite maker, which begged for follow-up reporting:

“In the beginning, we protested peacefully,” said a kite maker who identified himself only by his nickname, Abu Ayed, fearing Israeli retribution. “But when the peaceful resistance is exposed to live fire and violence, it has the right to use simple violent means like hurling stones and burning their farmland. This is self-defense.”

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