New York Times’ Ethan Bronner still falsely blaming August Eilat attack on Palestinians

In an article today on the Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange deal, The New York Times’ scandal-plagued Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner falsely blames an August attack from Egypt into Israeli-controlled territory near the Red Sea port of Eilat on Palestinians. Bronner writes:

An Israeli official said on Tuesday that Israel had sent a letter of apology to Egypt for the deaths of several of its troops by Israeli forces chasing Palestinian militants into Sinai in August.

Israel at first claimed the attack had originated from Gaza and carried out days of revenge bombings that killed dozens of Palestinians. But Israel provided no evidence for the claim and subsequently backed away from it.

Israeli investigation determined all the attackers were Egyptian

On 21 September, Karl Vick wrote on Time magazine’s Global Spin blog, citing Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper, that the Israeli military claimed to have determined that all the attackers were Egyptians:

“The IDF’s [Israeli military] investigation of the incident was recently completed and its findings indicate that the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza sponsored the terror attack, but the terrorists who executed the attack were Egyptians,” reporter Alex Fishman wrote. “The Egyptian terrorists were responsible for the sniper fire from within Egyptian territory, and the three squads of suicide bombers who went onto Route 12 to attack the Israeli vehicles were also comprised of Egyptian citizens.” Fishman reports that the operational cell numbered 20 people, including the Palestinian handlers. One, the story says, was an Egyptian police officer on active duty.

The findings would explain to the mystified residents of Gaza the utter absence of either the mourning or celebration that routinely occurs in the Palestinian enclave after a successful terror attack against Israel, which pulled out of the strip in 2005 but still keeps a tight clamp on its boundaries.

Yet even the claim that the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) “sponsored” the attack is dubious. Even after Israel carried out the extrajudicial execution of a PRC commander and his two-year old child, the PRC denied any involvement in the operation.

Israel likely continues to claim a PRC role – without offering a shred of evidence – in order to justify its lethal rampage in Gaza.

But even if PRC were involved in the way Israel claims, Ethan Bronner’s statement that “Israeli forces chas[ed] Palestinian militants into Sinai in August” is baseless. Even Israel says so.

Bronner’s conflicts of interest

It might be that Bronner is simply too busy justifying his blatant conflicts of interest – recently exposed by Max Blumenthal in the Columbia Journalism Review – to bother with actually determining the facts. Blumenthal discovered that Bronner had a business relationship with an Israeli PR firm owned by an American-born illegal West Bank settler on whose clients Bronner also reported for the Times.

As a result of Blumenthal’s expose, The New York Times’ own public editor Arthur Brisbane took Bronner to task.

Last year, the previous public editor Clark Hoyt had called for Bronner to be reassigned after The Electronic Intifada revealed that Bronner’s son had enlisted in the Israeli army.

But for some reason, no matter how many conflicts of interest, and instances of blatant bias including Nakba denial are exposed, Bronner’s reign of error continues uninterrupted.

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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.