A June 28th article at Times of London once again demonstrates the media’s frequent failure to challenge incendiary and unsubstantiated accusations against Israel by Palestinians or pro-Palestinian campaigners. The article, “Campaigners call for Eurovision boycott”, written by the paper’s Ireland Arts Correspondent, included a quote by Irish senator David Norris charging that the IDF used expanding bullets (aka “Dumb-dumb bullets”) when firing at “children” during Gaza border riots.
Here’s our tweet to the journalist:
FYI: @AP corrected an article in April w/ a similar allegation
— UK Media Watch (@UKMediaWatch) June 28, 2018
There’s so much malevolence in this single sentence – the least of which is the smear that the IDF cruelly targeted Palestinian children in its alleged use of this internationally outlawed ammunition.
Moreover, there’s absolutely no evidence by any reputable source that Israel used such bullets. The only source appears to be one Gaza physician, Dr. Ayman Sahbani, who was treating Palestinians shot during the riots and claimed, whilst commenting on the severity of bullet wounds he’s treated, that “a noticeable number of the gunshot injuries comprise an exit point larger than the entry point, suggesting explosive bullets.”
However, back in April, after communication with CAMERA, who cited the expertise of ballistic experts and doctors regarding the injuries described by the doctor, Associated Press (AP) revised a story which initially used the quote by Dr. Sahbani. The new language notes that such wounds are actually quite consistent with normal rifle fire. CAMERA also prompted Haaretz and the Times of Israel to correct their copy of the AP story.
Note also that even the fringes of the anti-Israel biosphere (e.g., Richard Silverstein) eventually walked back the initial claim that Israel had used such ammo.
We lodged an official complaint with Times of London editors, who refused to remove the quote but did agree to add an additional sentence:
Though we’re pleased that editors added Israel’s denial, it’s still appalling that the baseless smear remained in the article.