Western media coverage of the killing of 15 people, including four children, in an Israeli attack on Gaza that ostensibly targeted three members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement has been roundly condemned on social media.
The attack was in the headlines worldwide on Tuesday, but the tone of the stories varied widely, causing an uproar on social media on how several media outlets chose to word their coverage.
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Social media users pointed to headlines that omitted the children killed and focused on the three dead PIJ members, who were identified as Jihad al-Ghannam, Khalil al-Bahtini and Tariq Izz el-Deen.
Israeli forces targeted residential apartments in different parts of Gaza, killing a number of civilians who were family members or neighbours of the PIJ commanders, according to Al Jazeera’s Youmna El Sayed, who reported from Gaza.
The New York Times was criticised especially for implying that “both sides” had equal reason to fear escalations after the attack when the power imbalance between Palestinians in Gaza and Israel’s well-armed security forces is so large.
One user said the “both sides” narrative ignores “innocent Palestine dead AGAIN”.
It’s always “Both sides” but all I see are innocent Palestine dead AGAIN https://t.co/0RsRLa7OCA
— Shadia 🌻 (@Shadia_H_M) May 9, 2023
UK-based media company Mzemo criticised the newspaper’s failure to put the killing of civilians in the headline.
Here’s a good example of how you dehumanize Palestinians. Israel purposefully struck a residential area in one of the most densely populated places on earth. It is impoverished and besieged. 12 people are killed, including women and children. And the headline is about… pic.twitter.com/acNoQpEar0
— Mzemo (@MyMzemo) May 9, 2023
Canadian NGO Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East said Canadian media descriptions of the civilians killed as “10 others'” was not acceptable as it compared headlines from leading news organisations such as The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.
Four children were among the 13 Palestinians killed in their homes by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza last night, but Canadian media headlines referred to them only as "10 others." This is not okay. @globeandmail @TorontoStar @TheTorontoSun @CTVNews pic.twitter.com/aYoe1gXL2m
— Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (@CJPME) May 9, 2023
Another user pointed to the Guardian’s headline, again highlighting its failure to mention the children killed.
Guardian improved original headline somewhat. 1st headline left civilians out altogether, this one adds them as an after thought. But it still can’t be bothered to headline the 3 children. Israelis don’t count the children they kills either https://t.co/Mwb8isB0cO
— Carole Craig (@adistantpeople) May 9, 2023
The BBC’s headline was also criticised by another user as “misleading”.
The @bbc headline was “Top Militants and 10 civilians dead in Israel Gaza strikes”
How misleading headlines and reporting can be. Most journalism today is a limp arm for political agendas, when real life stories are being played out through alternative media. https://t.co/3ISSVEK4EK
— Nabeel Shariff (@nomadnabeel) May 9, 2023
The Israeli army said the air attacks, code-named Operation Shield and Arrow, targeted men responsible for recent rockets fired towards Israel.