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New York Times Backtracks After Claiming Palestinians Broke Ceasefire That Israel Systematically Violates

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The Israeli air force struck a UN building during the assault on Gaza in 2008-09.
Photo Credit: ISM Palestine/Wikimedia Commons

Tensions are flaring between Israel and the Palestinians, sparked by hunger-strikers in Israeli jails, the death of a Palestinian prisoner allegedly due to torture and protests in response to those events in the West Bank. The tensions have also spread to the Gaza Strip--but if you read the New York Times, you would misunderstand what happened in Gaza recently.

Yesterday, Israel said that a rocket from a militant Palestinian faction flew into the city of Ashkelon. A “subgroup” of the Palestinian faction Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade took responsibility, the New York Times’ Jodi Rudoren reported. The problem with Rudoren’s initial report on the event was that it claimed that the rocket broke the ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza that was reached at the end of intense fighting in November 2012. In reality, Israel has systematically violated the ceasefire by shooting at farmers and fishermen in Gaza and conducting military incursions into the Strip.

Before the story was corrected later in the day (Yousef Munayyer of the Palestine Center chronicles the original story here), Rudoren wrote: 

For the first time in more than three months, at least one rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel early on Tuesday morning, according to Israeli authorities, breaking a ceasefire that had been in place after eight days of intense violence between Israel and Gaza last fall.

But as Ben White noted in Al Jazeera English, “since late November, Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have averaged over one a day, everyday. These include shootings by troops positioned along the border fence, attacks on fishermen working off the Gaza coast, and incursions by the Israeli army.”

So Rudoren was dead wrong, though this is hardly the first time the New York Times has pushed the Israeli narrative when it comes to events in Palestine.

But there's an upshot: the story has now been changed and is much more accurate. The version that appeared in the print edition of the Times reads:

The rocket, which came down on a road outside the city of Ashkelon and caused no injuries, was the first from Gaza to hit Israel in the three months since a cease-fire agreement ended eight days of cross-border violence. Israel has violated the cease-fire several times by firing on fishermen and farmers approaching newly relaxed security perimeters, but the agreement has otherwise held.

The Palestine Center’s Munayyer positively noted this change. “This is a far better representation of reality than what appeared earlier,” he wrote. “Of course it would have been best had the Times reported on the Israeli violations when they occurred,  as they did with this single rocket, but nonetheless the updated version of this article is far improved.” Still, it says something that Rudoren's initial instinct was to blame the breaking of the ceasefire on Palestinians.

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