An article by the Guardian’s Chris McGreal reported on news that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will investigate the killing of Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11th.
The US decision was denounced by Israel’s defence minister as “interference in Israel’s internal affairs”, and is seen by many as an about-face after the US administration continually insisted that it would not be opening such an investigation.
McGreal’s article (“Israel will not cooperate with FBI inquiry into killing of Palestinian American journalist“, Nov. 15) includes the following:
The IDF initially denied responsibility for killing Abu Akleh and pointed the finger at Palestinian gunmen.
That is not true. The IDF’s initial report, on May 13, two days after the shooting, presented two possibilities for the source of the gunfire, either Palestinian gunmen or Israeli soldiers, without opining on which one was the more likely scenario.
Later in the article, McGreal misleads again:
investigations by the United Nations and several news organisations concluded that the journalist was not near Palestinian gunfire when she was killed…
This is contradicted by the testimony of two eyewitnesses who, as CAMERA researchers demonsrated, both indicated to Arabic news outlets the presence of Palestinian snipers in the vicinity. Further, as Elder of Ziyon and CAMERA noted, an 8-minute video on Middle East Eye’s YouTube page here shows that there were, indeed, other Palestinian gunmen near the journalist.
In September, the IDF finally admitted that one of its soldiers had probably shot her but said there would be no criminal prosecutions because no laws had been broken and declared the case closed.
The IDF report concluded that “there is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire that was fired towards… Palestinian gunmen, during an exchange of fire in which…indiscriminate shots were fired toward IDF soldiers”.
The omission by McGreal of the word “accidentally” in the IDF report, and his decision to accept at face value claims that the journalist “was not near Palestinian gunmen” when she was killed, is important, as it denies readers context regarding why, even if Abu Akleh was shot by the IDF, there are no criminal prosecutions.
Let’s recall that, in July, the U.S. Security Coordinator which analysed the bullet and oversaw both the Israeli and Palestinian investigations stated that while gunfire from the IDF was “likely responsible” for the death of Abu Akleh, it, echoing the Israeli report, “found no reason to believe that this was intentional.”
Such distortions about Israel are of course par for the course for McGreal.
We’ve previously referred to him – the Guardian’s former Jerusalem correspondent – as the outlet’s worst journalist in light of his flagrant disregard for the principles of professionalism and objectivity when covering Israel and pro-Israel organisations in the US. McGreal demonstrates his visceral hostility towards the Jewish state and its supporters consistently.
McGreal, an apparent supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, once all but accused IDF soldiers of deliberately murdering innocent Palestinian children, and achieved notoriety for being one of the few mainstream journalists in the UK singled out by name in a CST report on antisemitic discourse.
— Chris McGreal (@ChrisMcGreal) August 2, 2015
We’ve complained to Guardian editors about McGreal’s false claim that “the IDF initially denied responsibility for killing Abu Akleh and pointed the finger at Palestinian gunmen”.