Independent uncritically cites “report” by Iranian PressTV

The Independent’s coverage of recent Palestinian violence at the Temple Mount and throughout Jerusalem included a curious article published on Sept. 13th by Indy reporter named Samuel Osborne.

The article, which focused on violence that day at the mosque compound hours before the start of the Jewish New Year, concluded with a bit of background about the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque area and Jerusalem.

[Al-Aqsa Mosque] has been a source of religious and political tension between Israel and the Palestinians, and a frequent flashpoint for violence.

Last week, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon outlawed two Muslim groups that confront Jewish visitors to the compound. He said the ban was necessary to “defend the security of the state, the well-being of the public and public order”.

According to police, rioters barricaded themselves in the mosque overnight with the aim of disrupting Jewish visits to the site ahead of the start of the New Year celebrations on Sunday evening.

“Masked protesters who were inside the mosque threw stones and fireworks at police,” a police statement said. “Suspect pipes that could be filled with homemade explosives were also found at the entry to the mosque.”

While non-Muslims are allowed to visit the compound, Jews are forbidden from praying or displaying national symbols, for fear of triggering tensions with Muslim worshippers.

Israel seized east Jerusalem, where the mosque is located, in the Six Day War of 1967 and later annexed it. The move was never recognised by the international community.

Last week, Press TV reported that Israeli soldiers and police officers prevented more than 40 Palestinian women from entering the al-Aqsa Mosque.

When Israeli forces tried to detain one of the women, the Palestinian worshippers repelled the attack.

Of course, PressTV is the Iranian state broadcaster’s English-language outlet. PressTV, funded by the government, serves a source of anti-Israel and antisemitic agitprop, including repeated reports on the existence of an international Jewish conspiracy to kidnap non-Jewish children and harvest their organs.

Unsurprisingly, the PressTV report about the “40 Palestinian women” barred from entering the mosque that the Indy cited failed to provide even as much information about the incident, which reportedly occurred earlier in the month, as the Palestinian-based Ma’an News Agency.  A Ma’an story on Sept. 3rd reported that the women in question were prevented from visiting the mosque due to their history of causing disturbances at the site, and quoted a police spokesperson noting that restrictions were imposed to decrease ongoing tensions in the area.  

Additionally, Ma’an noted, the bans only lasted for periods of between 10 and 60 days.

Earlier, we tweeted Osbourne to ask him if he typically cites PressTV. Here’s his reply:

It’s a sad commentary on the state of British journalism when reporters see absolutely nothing wrong with relying on the propaganda outlet of a repressive regime to provide readers with context and background on issues as important as the ongoing violence in Jerusalem.

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