An analysis in The Times by their Diplomatic Editor Roger Boyes (“Accident or assassination, Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing risks trouble in the West Bank”, May 11) provides context concerning the killing of the Al Jazeera journalist in Jenin.
Here’s the first and relevant paragraph:
The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera journalist, has sent ripples of concern across the Middle East. In part that was down to the historic echo of trouble in Jenin, the West Bank Palestinian camp and neighbourhood that saw fierce fighting over two decades ago in the Second Intifada. At the time Palestinians put the death toll at 500 and talked of mass graves containing thousands more. Later those figures were revised down but Jenin and its fightback against Israel has established itself in the popular Arab imagination as a centre of hardy resistance. Trouble in Jenin rarely stays in Jenin.
To describe Palestinian ‘claims’ that “500” Palestinians were killed, with “thousands” more dead in “mass graves“, as a result of an IDF military operation in Jenin in 2002 – part of a larger operation in response to deadly suicide bombings, a large number of which eminated from the city – as figures which were merley “revised down” is extraordinarily misleading.
They weren’t Palestinian “claims”, but Palestinian propaganda – fake news, full stop!
It was lie that was peddled for weeks by NGOs and media outlets like the Guardian – which, in one leader, compared it to the 9/11 attacks – until the evidence contradicting those ‘claims’ was so clear that even the United Nations admited there was no “massacre”. The final death toll, as the result of house to house fighting, was 52 Palestinains killed, mostly terrorists, and 23 Israelis killed – with NO mass graves.
The “500” killed and “thousands more” in “mass graves” figures weren’t, as Boyes writes, merely “revised down”. They were shown to be an intentional and malicious lie that had no relation to reality.
The Times itself noted, in a 2020 obituary about Saeb Erekat, that the “Jenin massacre” numbers were fiction:
[Erekat] did not always offer a calming voice: that year he came under fire for claiming Israel had massacred 500 Palestinians during their assault on Jenin; later the death toll was put at about 52, mostly militants.
We contacted The Times to ask that they at least add a note to the article citing the actual death count so that readers can see for themselves what “revised downwards” means in reality. Unfortunately, we received a reply stating that editors “are satisfied that the phrase ‘revised downwards’ is accurate” and “not misleading”, so we’ll be filing a complaint with IPSO.