How New York Times conceals Israeli violence against Palestinians

The massive upsurge of Israeli violence against Palestinians is invisible to The New York Times.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Two recent stories in The New York Times involve violence against Palestinian and Israeli children. But it is striking how differently the stories are treated based on the identity of the victim.

The first, from today, is headlined “Israeli Girl Severely Wounded in Firebomb Attack in West Bank.” The second, from November, is headlined “Palestinian Shot by Israeli Troops at Gaza Border.” Both are by Isabel Kershner.

Today’s report begins:

JERUSALEM — An 11-year-old Israeli girl was severely wounded on Thursday when a firebomb was thrown at the car in which she was traveling with her father in the West Bank, the Israeli military said.

Troops were searching for the assailants, believed to be Palestinians, in the area of the attack, near the Jewish settlement of El Matan.

The report names the girl – Ayala Shapira – and describes “third-degree burns on her face and upper torso” and says that her wounds were “life-threatening.”

Note how Kershner says the assailants are “believed to be” Palestinians – belief, not evidence. She also names the girl’s father and says he suffered light injuries, and quotes her mother.

The report then provides this, presumably as context:

There has been an uptick in Palestinian attacks against Israelis in recent weeks, including deadly assaults in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The violence has been fanned in part by a dispute over a revered holy site in Jerusalem.

Nowhere does the report state that there has been relentless violence by Israeli occupation forces and settlers against Palestinians.

The mention of a “revered holy site” also suggests the violence is religious and irrational in nature. It also erases the fact that Palestinians are subject to systematic Israeli violence, including ongoing home demolitions, forced displacement and land theft.

The tension over the “revered holy site” – Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque – is the consequence of incursions by Israeli extremists, backed by the government, whose ultimate goal is to destroy it.

Huge surge in Israeli violence

In fact, though you wouldn’t know it from The New York Times, there has been a huge surge in violence against Palestinians.

“Palestinian civilians across the [occupied Palestinian territories] continue to be subject to various threats to their life, physical safety and liberty,” says the United Nations monitoring group OCHA in a year-end summary.

This year “witnessed the highest Palestinian casualty toll since 1967, primarily due to hostilities in Gaza,” OCHA adds.

But in the West Bank, too, there was a huge increase in Israeli violence: this year to date 49 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, almost double the number from last year, OCHA reports.

Ten of those killed in the West Bank were Palestinian children shot with live ammunition by Israeli occupation forces.

A staggering 5,771 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces in the West Bank this year, two thousand more than last year.

According to OCHA, Israel carried out an average of 96 “search and arrest” raids every week during the year, up from 75 per week in 2013. These assaults often take the form of night raids on homes, terrorizing entire families and communities.

This huge “uptick” in Israeli violence is invisible to The New York Times.

Boy shot in face

On Wednesday, a Palestinian boy aged five was shot in the face by Israeli occupation forces with a rubber-coated steel bullet, causing serious injuries.

The shooting occurred when Muhammad Jamal Ubeid and his fourteen-year-old sister were getting off a school bus in the eastern occupied Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiyeh.

This tweet by Russia Today correspondent Paula Slier shows the boy in hospital with his parents, following surgery:

Just as this post was about to be published, Kershner filed a second report today, on an alleged stabbing of two Israeli police by a Palestinian in occupied Jerusalem.

It repeats the assertion that there has been a “recent increase in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.”

But Kershner found no room to mention the shooting of Muhammad Jamal Ubeid. (Update: shortly before this post was published, the Times published an AP report on its website about the stabbing of the Israeli police – the second on the same topic – which does mention the shooting of Ubeid. But it still does not appear in Kershner’s reports.)

“Palestinian” shot

Now let’s look at the other New York Times headline. It dates from 16 November: “Palestinian Shot by Israeli Troops at Gaza Border.”

Kershner’s report begins:

JERUSALEM — Israeli forces patrolling the border with the Gaza Strip shot and wounded a Palestinian as he approached the border fence on Sunday and took him to an Israeli hospital, according to the military. A spokeswoman for the hospital said the Palestinian was a 10-year-old boy.

Israel’s border with Gaza has remained tense but relatively calm since Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that dominates the Palestinian coastal enclave, agreed to an open-ended cease-fire in late August after a 50-day war.

When you read the report, you learn that the “Palestinian” is reported to be a young boy. But the headline doesn’t say “Palestinian boy” the way today’s headline states “Israeli girl.”

Kershner relays the myth – or lie, if you will – that the situation in Gaza had been “relatively calm” since the 26 August ceasefire. In fact, Israel has been violating the ceasefire and firing on Palestinians there almost every day.

The boy is anonymous and we do not hear from his mother or father. But we learn he was taken to a hospital in Israel. The report continues:

A military spokeswoman, speaking on the condition of anonymity under army rules, said the troops spotted “a suspicious figure” approaching the fence, called on him to stop, and when he ignored the warnings they fired in the air and then at his lower body.

Here’s what Kershner provides, again presumably, for context:

A number of Palestinians have been arrested after crossing the border in the months since the cease-fire came into effect, including one in September who was found to have a knife.

In Jerusalem on Sunday, the police said they were searching for the assailant who stabbed a 32-year-old Israeli man with a screwdriver. The Israeli was being treated at a hospital.

Searching in the weekly reports from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, I found this incident on 16 November, which seems to most closely match the New York Times report, except that the age of the boy is 15, not ten:

 At approximately 14:15, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, opened fire at Atiyah Fathi Atiyah al-Nabahin (15) living in the camp when he tried to infiltrate into Israel via the border fence. As a result, he was hit by a bullet to the neck and taken to Soroko Hospital in Beersheba. His injury was described as serious and he is still at the hospital receiving treatment.

Why Palestinians flee Gaza

It’s very likely al-Nabahin was trying to get across the fence to find work, or simply escape the dire situation in Gaza.

But The New York Times report places the entry attempt in the context of threats to Israel and attacks on Israelis and not the catastrophic and unprecedented violence that Israel has visited on Palestinians in Gaza.

The massive death and destruction and the economic depression caused by the ongoing siege are forcing Palestinians to risk their lives to flee Gaza in ever larger numbers, as the Israeli daily Haaretz has reported.

They risk their lives to flee by sea, where hundreds have perished or been deliberately drowned this year.

And increasing numbers risk their lives to flee across the Israeli fortifications – where like other escapees from history’s ghettos and internment camps – they risk being shot from watchtowers and patrols.

Indeed, reports state that two more Palestinians were shot trying to escape Gaza today.

None of this context was mentioned in The New York Times’ report.

The Times has to keep telling itself and its readers that Palestinians in general and those in Gaza in particular are the “threat” and Israel is playing defense.

That an entire population is being kept in a ghetto in Gaza, sealed off from the world and subjected to an incremental genocide, just to protect Israel’s alleged Jewish character, is, for many, a reality too awful to contemplate.

Those wishing to shield themselves from such truths should continue reading The New York Times.




What I found striking on NYTimes recently was Roger Cohen's piece on why the Israeli-Palestinian 'peace talks' failed. It only quoted Israeli politician Livni and made it seem like the Israelis had made an irresistible offer that the Palestinians thoughtlessly squandered. Pretty epic one-sidedness...


thanks for this Ali, its becoming increasingly important to call likes of NYT and Washington Post out on their blatant propaganda rags. They have huge influence, will rarely publish letters to the editors and are astonishingly unrepentent for the drivel they serve the public.


This toilet paper spreads Zionist propaganda nobody with a working brain buys anymore


Amen! Americans are sick and tired of Israel killing Palestinians and Democracy Now has been covering this story for years. I thank them greatly and give money to them for presenting the Palestinian voices. Americans can find the truth if they cared to look. We are now building a movement to stop our Department of War from spending our taxes in support of Israel's genocide. Blow back has started and it will get worse. I had the NSA sending our local police to my doorstep because I was complaining to another American documentarian about incompetence in our medical system because I used the word "gun" and "capital steps" in my e-mail. The NSA "is" spying on Americans and reading every e-mail that is against our Bill of Rights. Americans need to wake up before they are in "chains" with all their Constitutional rights taken away fighting the false "War on Terror" just so the military industrial complex corporations can sell their products and services with tax payer money that should actually be spent on American healthcare and infrastructure that is now collapsing. BLOW BACK!


I urge all the readers of this article to forward it to the New York Times's Margaret Sullivan, The New York Times Public Editor. And those readers who haven't yet should visit and sign up for emails from Barbara Erickson's excellent blog, "TimesWarp" ( We need to mount a campaign for better reporting and for the NYT to finally put their money where their mouth is and place a reporter in the Occupied Territories.


Disgusting biased American media........... I am sick of seeing Palestinian children covered in blood, deliberately run over by illegal settlers, kidnapped, abused physically and mentally by the IDF, children as young as 8 ARRESTED by the IDF.............. I see this because I access news that is not biased propaganda based such as the New York Times...........the only news American media show is pro Israeli....... and when a Palestinian has had enough and retaliates for justifiable reasons? This makes front page news! But of course the truth is not published is it.......... pictures of a Palestinian mother holding her lifeless dead baby........ not published........ families squashed together living poverty amongst the rubble of their homes, behind barbed wire and armed tanks...... not published.......... children kidnapped and set on fire by illegal settlers....... not published......... Israelis evicting Palestinians forcefully from ancient ancestral homes.......... not published...........children gassed every day on their way home from school by IDF........ not published..........thousands shut out of Gaza by the Egyptian/Israeli closure of Rafah gate, suffering and living in the dirt waiting for the gates to open........... not published........ and ad infinitum.


I do not send many greetings or hopes for next year, 2015.

For those I do send by email I enclose a very brief mention of a few of my
activities and a longer description of my commitment to Palestinian rights.
I end with a single picture from the destruction of Gaza reproduced from

If I do get any response at all, there is typically a comforting reference to
my going to concerts .

No one ever mentions or responds to the horrible obliteration in Palestine.

The effect of the reporting in NYT (New York Times) goes beyond readers
of that newspaper itself. It expresses itself in the total failure of most
Americans to SEE anything at all. It has been "censored" from the public
mind by its censorship such as in the NYT (and other media) .

That is the result of facts such as Ali Albuminah has reported above

Put in the context of our advocacy, we are "marginalized". Our pains,
our opression by the USA and Israel simply do not exist for most Americans.
When we speak to issues, we speak as lone voices from a wilderness of coerced silence. We have apparently been defined out of existence in the public
American mind.

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA


I was just in Israel and Jordan for three weeks, my heart goes out for the Palestinian people! I witnessed first hand the lack of accurate news that America was getting.


Thank you Ali for continuing to expose the lies perpetuated by the NYT and others in the media. The truth of what Israel is, and always has been, is known to most of the world. Only those who are morally bankrupt ignore the truth.
1S (Palestine) 1P 1V.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.