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March 11, 2015 4:55 pm

Top Investigative Reporters Assail Associated Press Story on Gaza Civilian Casualties

avatar by Chris Coffey

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IDF Artillery Corps firing shells towards Gaza, near the border with Southern Israel on July 18, 2014. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90

Two of America’s top investigative journalists, Richard Behar and Gary Weiss, have assailed a recent story by the Associated Press on Israel’s military action against Hamas in Gaza last summer.

Published in the The New York Observer, the Behar-Weiss report on the AP reveals a pattern of one-sided reporting, staged photos, and poor research. It also uncovers a departure from established ethical journalism, and contends that the AP story “was set into motion by slanted, politically biased non-governmental organizations.”

On February 13, 2015, the AP released its report which focused on Israeli Air Force strikes on homes during the Gaza War and claimed that according to its findings “just over 60 percent – were children, women and older men, all presumed to be civilians.”

Replete with pictures of damaged Gaza buildings, one AP photo showed a young boy standing atop the rubble of his damaged home with a caption reading: “The attack killed his father, a Hamas policeman, his mother and two siblings.” A number of large news organizations ran the story, and carried the photos.

“When the AP article came out, its bias was evident,” Gary Weiss told The Algemeiner. So he and Richard Behar, the Contributing Editor, Investigations, for Forbes magazine, got to work reporting on the reporters.

Both Behar and Weiss had experience focusing on civilian casualties as part of their nonprofit investigative journalism venture, The Mideast Reporter. Behar had already penned a piece in Forbes about “The Media Intifada,” a term coined by Weiss to describe news outlets co-opted by the so-called “Hamas war machine.”

“Civilian casualties are a very important news story,” said Weiss. “The AP was right to delve into the subject.”

After talking to AP sources, in addition to non-AP sources, Behar and Weiss discovered serious problems with the Gaza story.

“The [AP] reporting was flawed. Questions were not asked. There were gaping holes in the article big enough to drive a tractor through them,” Weiss said.

For instance, Behar and Weiss reported that the AP neglected to tell its readers that the father of the young boy pictured in the story was a Hamas Commander, not a hapless civilian.

They also found that the AP story was influenced by organizations with a “political agenda hostile to Israeli policies…” In fact, the mission of one of these organizations, Al Mezan, “is to gather the raw materials needed to engage in what’s known as ‘lawfare’ with Israel, bringing Israelis and the state itself to trial for ‘war crimes’…”

More troubling was the revelation that the AP did not: “discuss, or even acknowledge, the issue of Hamas utilizing child soldiers… the possibility that some of the teenage casualties might have been combatants.”

So why did the AP file such a biased report on civilian casualties in Gaza?

The AP has not responded to Behar or Weiss about their article. Behar thinks that the AP‘s reticence is sad because “when AP reporters contact people for stories they are writing they expect them to answer their questions. I guess what’s good for the goose ‘ain’t’ good for the gander.”

Behar and Weiss wrote in The Observer that the AP “disregarded its own standards too blatantly for it to be considered a fluke.” They added however that it would be an “overgeneralization to say that AP‘s entire news report, or that its entire Middle Eastern coverage, is untrustworthy.”

In the end, Behar and Weiss did not set out to destroy the AP. Rather, Weiss thinks the goal was “to begin a frank discussion about the AP‘s coverage of the Middle East, and why its work was so bad. The media outlets that own AP and use its stories, sometimes unthinkingly, need to be aware of these issues.”

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  • AP, PBS, same biased reporting

  • The Israeli left imported the the Arch terrorist Arafat and his army of terrorists from Morocco, with his army of terrorists to protect Israel from the mobs of the Palestinian Arabs.Arafat as a dictator would not be constrained by any law.!!??

    Sharon turning leftist moved out the Jewish population from Gaza in order to calm down the Arab demands.

    Before Israel handed over there wasn’t missiles threatening Israeli population.

    Now the fabrication of lies is in action and will be intensified.

    • Paul

      “Before Israel handed over there wasn’t missiles threatening Israeli population”.


      Missiles from Gaza have been aimed at Israel for a long, long time. Sharon pulled out of Gaza in the expectation that that would END the rockets.

      • It is also wrong, depending what you mean by “long lonf time”. From 1980 to 1982 I lived in Beersheba (closest city to Gaza) and we made a couple of trips to Gaza. It was really quiet, some places we met Israeli police, (were very happy), dropped to stores, walked along the main street to the end (a couple of km.) There was no boundary between Israel an Gaza, and only by the trees and green we could recognize that the desert had end and we were in Gaza And we never heard being in Israel about rockets at all.

  • Lynne T

    “Hamas policeman” = thuggish enforcer serving a bona fide fascist outfit.

  • Joy Moss-Rendell

    Well well! Happy to read that there are some honest people in the media looking to find the truth in this haphazard world of anti Israel deligitimization. I believe that truth will prevail in the end but oh boy! we have to go through so much harassment until it comes through. And of course we will never quieten those that hate us… that would be too unrealistic!

  • Stu Katz

    Isn’t that special. Thank you that someone other than those subjected to and bombarded by the lies of the AP, are showing that the AP is biased, and no longer a source of honest journalism.

    The AP’S agenda, was clear from the beginning. 5000 rockets rained down on Israeli Civilians. Israel called, sent warnings before every counter-battery response from Hamas.

    When a news agency reports with a straight (albeit lying) face that a nation does not have a right and moral obligation to protect it’s citizens, then that agency should quit the business.

    • you are right: this agency must quit the business. They always lie, they are always anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish, and not struggling for truth. We should make petition to dismiss AP; or they must bring a public apology for that. Unfortunately most of American media is like this. It is under influence of leftists who are all anti-Israeli.
      But please, tell my for what period Hamas fired 5000 rockets?

  • Henna du Plessis

    Who cares? Israel is always blamed . The media can not be trusted to report the truth about Israel, they always side with Israel’s enemies.

  • peet_

    Very good investigation, necessary to be spread as much as possible! Great thanks to Richard Behar and Gary Weiss!!

  • Lou VanDelman

    Why is it that we do not hear of the killing of civilians, children and women when our air forces bomb ISIS. Is it just plain old fashioned anti-Semitism. Jews cannot get a break anywhere.

  • Robert Davis

    The reason of all of these slanted,flawed media articles based on ngos “reports” is evidently to put pressure on Israeli politicians to scare them into giving up defence of Israel! What a stupidity! these medias’ deadbrain editors should know they get the inverse result!!!

  • AP is awaref what they print. They are just biased.

  • Golum


  • Florence

    If you think AP didn’t know the truth, I have a bridge to sell you. So all the sleuthing and fact finding will mot change the ways of AP or the other so called “journalists”. Sorry to be so cynical, but when are you going to wake up?

  • Ivan Gur-Arie

    I dont think it is a question of inadvertant error. I believe that when it comes to Israel there is a shark feeding frenzy among the media people. It is a contest as to who can find or even make up acts not befitting a civilized nation. It reminds me of watching the media
    tv and witnessing stories of discrimination practiced against Black and Latino students at the Universities. However, the Anti Semitism practiced at the University against Jews is a non story. All discrimination should be spotlighted, reported and stopped. I guess when it comes to Jewish students the media ran out of ink.

  • Dennis schaaf

    On O’Reilly tonight Ed Henry called ApePee “non partisan”. What a joke. They are as bad as the NYSlimes.

  • Russ van der Linden

    Wait, did you call Gary Weiss a “top investigative reporter”?

    Seriously? Did we run out of reporters?

    He’s an embarrassment to the profession.

  • steven L

    It would have been a major surprise if the leftist mass media of the Western world had ANY intention to be honest!
    They all follow the Allinsky MO. Lie & Demonize.

  • Frankly one would expect facts from AP not opinionated biased journalism. No wonder the dumb broads in the EU and EEAS and the rest can’t see the wood from the trees. This applies to the useless ICC bunch of officials. This kind of reporting infuriates me. Who gives a damn about two AP boys opinion we need facts not fiction.

  • Ron

    The discussion about the AP’s Middle East coverage began last year with the explosive article that Matti Friedman, a former AP correspondent who for 5 1/2 years covered the Palestinian-Israel conflict, blew the lid off the wire service’s biased reportage. Unfortunately, the wire service has done zero to make what it calls the “news” more balanced. The AP also has more correspondents covering the conflict than all correspondents in every Middle East nation combined. It’s rather obvious that the AP (the very same company for whom I was a newsman) has not changed its duplicitous behavior and continues to transform facts to fit its own narrative.

  • Jack

    “when AP reporters contact people for stories they are writing they expect them to answer their questions. I guess what’s good for the goose ‘ain’t’ good for the gander.”
    Governments and political parties the world over act the same as AP.
    Especially those trying to hide the truth,…what ever that may be.
    “when AP reporters contact people for stories they are writing they expect them to answer their questions. I guess what’s good for the goose ‘ain’t’ good for the gander.”
    So how do we combat this denial of rights by indifference?
    Out work ’em.

  • Steve Loeb

    Shurat HaDin are you seeing this? Why isn’t Associated Press now sued for hundreds of millions of dollars which we know will go very far stopping this from repeating and go very far to curb the influence these NGO’s seem to have with reportage

  • Emmett

    The AP along with most media are untrustworthy in their “reporting”, due to their leftist affliction. Until the major media can provide integrity in all their reporting, their entire “news” cannot be trusted to be the truth. The reporting of lies & false propaganda to manipulate the reader may be fashionable & acceptable for leftists, but that is unacceptable behavior for normal people. As a first step, perhaps the leftist journalist can take character improvement lessons from crack whores to improve their integrity, and move on from there.

  • Shira

    Thank you so much for covering this. It is badly needed for those of us who know the truth and in uncovering media anti-semitism.

  • Godfrey Genete

    This is good.
    There should be a balance and comprehensive reporting.

  • For thousands of years the land of Israel lay in ruin. Undeveloped, no industry, sheep farmers, no oil, etc.
    In 1948 when Jews were reinstated, not transplanted as some ignorant person referred to them, the land began to blossom. Only with coming wealth did the land of Israel become more and more of interest to the Arabs who suffer from chronic infighting, economic mismanagement and growth in personal wealth at the top by ensuring the world has ample greenhouse gases. For those illiterates who dot know, it is a historical fact that the Jews were expelled from the land of Israel by, among others, the Romans, your Christian predecessors. Anyone who disputes this is blind or chooses to be blind. So for all of you that dislike and bias against the Jews and Israelis for whatever reason, whether you call it anti-Semitic, ignorant or whatever, the land belongs to Jews and it is the so called Arab-Palestinians who have a claim to it that is based not in fact but in false history and journalism. With all their resources, with all their history, with all their financial power and wealth, the Arab nations have individually (except in the case of a few Gulf states) shown themselves time and again as being incapable of governing themselves without wars, massacres, infighting, suicide bombing themselves and blaming everyone else for their problems. Thus, now these Religious Zealots in Iran will control the nuclear switch and who will they point it at? Has one leader pointed a wagging finger at Iran, Hizbullah, Fatah and Hamas’ constant barrage of existential threats not just towards Israel but Jews anywhere and infidels. They have stated publicly that Jews anywhere are military targets of these devil re-incarnates wherever they are. Regardless of their so called reasons and justifications they threaten to annihilate Jews anywhere (Europe, India, Argentina, South America, Russia). Tourists, kids, babies. You godless false writers have the nerve to gloss over those events and not even wave your fingers at the perpetrators. You ignore the beheading by ISIS. So if that’s not Jew hating bold faced anti-Semitism then I am not sure what is. So I hope you can some how find it in your warped brains polluted with hatred and delusion, that for all of you mourn for the Arab-Palestinians that perhaps you take a moment to consider the hypocrisy and absurdity of your positions. You cannot mask the hatred. You cannot hid your evil. You cannot ignore the terror and violence. You cannot ignore the subjugation of the masses and the brainwashing of their children with hate and violence as a means to an end.
    No entity in the world will force a solution on Israel.
    They forced or were complicit to the Final solution in WWII with the Holocaust and the extermination of over 6 million Jewish people, men women and children.

    Where were the worlds nations outcry, threats and objection when millions of Jewish people were being exterminated, men women and children? They were silent.

    Where was the world nations when the Arab countries expelled over a million Jewish people from their countries who lived there for over 1800 years, the Arabs confiscated their assets, business, homes and land 5 times the size of Israel, valued in the trillions of dollars?

    Where is the world nations today? Why do they ignore when thousands are slaughtered by Muslims throughout the world.

    Today and since 1948. Israel is being threatened with annihilation and when Israel defends itself from destruction, suicide bombers, thousands of missiles, violence, etc, by the Arabs, every country has something to say, threaten Israel and meddle in its business.

    This is the time when nations of the world must mind their own business and stay out of Israel’s internal affairs. Only then there will be a possibility of peace.

    YJ Draiman

    • Elere

      This only happen because the land is a promise from the Creator of the Heaven earth to His Chosen Israel. I had raise this before and I will reiterate it now and in future, look at Jordan that was establish before the state of Israel and the Palestinians wallowing in abject poverty and lack of a constructive know-how, it is all because the promise of the land was not for them, hence it invariably turned to cause on them. until they know there place in destine and appease the Jews they we neither have peace nor prosper as long as they remain in that land and all their supporters together.
      If my advice could reach Israeli government, I will tell them to stop relying on even American government but their God who truly lives from eternity to eternity. Elere form Nigeria

  • Iran the destabilizing factor in the Middle East and beyond..

    Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and it seeks one of the world’s most terrifying weapons: a nuclear bomb.

    Israel’s PM speech in Congress today just reinforced our resolve to stop Iran’s Nuclear development at all costs. The alternative could bring the world to a nuclear Holocaust.

    Iran also has developed the largest ballistic missile force in the Middle East, which poses a growing threat to U.S. bases, U.S. allies, and numerous other countries in the region.

    The rogue regimes in Iran pose some of the most dangerous threats to U.S. national security interests. Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and is rapidly expanding its nuclear program and ballistic missile force plus other offensive weapons and methods of terror. Regrettably, the Obama Administration has failed to formulate effective policies to address the challenges posed by the rising power of Iran and its unpredictable regime.
    Iran has been hostile to the United States since 1979, when a revolution brought to power a cadre of anti-Western Shia Islamist revolutionaries who dubbed the United States the “Great Satan.” Iran has tried to export its Islamist revolution violently to Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Gaza and Saudi Arabia by supporting Shia radical Islamists in each of these countries. Tehran helped to create the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon and has supported a wide variety of terrorist and revolutionary groups throughout the Middle East. It became the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism to advance its foreign policy goals and punish its enemies.
    In recent years, Iran’s hostile regime has been one of the chief beneficiaries of the political turmoil that convulsed the Middle East during the “Arab Spring,” which distracted the United States and other countries from the ongoing standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. The dramatic events diverted international attention from Tehran’s stubborn defiance of four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions on the nuclear issue. The political upheaval in the Arab world also has toppled a government in Egypt, and recreated a new government headed by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Iran undermined governments in Jordan, Bahrain, and elsewhere, that firmly opposed Iran. Although Bashar al-Assad’s pro-Iranian regime in Syria also has been weakened, strong support from Iran appears for the moment to have evened the balance of power in Syria’s civil war fueled by Assad.
    Some of the consequences has been the growth of ISIS and its goal for a Caliphate Dominion. The horrific pictures of beheadings and atrocities that defy human comprehension, only awaken our resolve to stop terror and violence before it engulfs the whole world and threaten our own survival.
    In retrospect, how would the U.S. react if Iran was a neighbor of the U.S. with its nuclear development and a threat to the U.S. and its allies.

    U.S must force the halt of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Washington must do a better job of enforcing its red line against an Iranian nuclear weapon than it did in enforcing the Obama Administration’s ill-considered red line against Syrian chemical weapons. Tehran must be forced by additional sanctions to comply with its non-proliferation obligations. The U.S. must demonstrate the willingness and capacity to defend its vital interests in the region. The U.S. should not agree to lift or ease anymore sanctions until Iran has taken concrete and irreversible actions to stop uranium enrichment, ship medium-enriched uranium stocks out of the country, close the uranium enrichment facility at Fordow, and halt work on the heavy water reactor at Arak and other location in Iran or its accomplices.

    Imagine Iran with nuclear capability and some terrorists getting a hold off a backpack with a nuclear device or dirty bomb and detonating it in the middle of Times Square in New York or any other congested area with hundreds of thousands in casualties. Do you think the American people will tolerate such a potential threat.
    I think 9-11 has shown to the American people that threats and weapons of mass destruction in the possession of terrorists is a national threat to America and the rest of the free world.
    It is time for the free world to take the gloves off and treat the threat with utmost force and cleanse the terrorists and its sponsors from existence.
    YJ Draiman

    • Your brilliant analysis shows that you live somewhere in the Middle East, probably in Israel, and don’t see anything beyond. Your sentence “Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and it seeks one of the world’s most terrifying weapons: a nuclear bomb…”is wrong. A couple of strikes by Israel can destroy all nuclear program in Iran, But the main problem and the main threat to mankind is Putin’s Russia, who support and help Iran with this program. Russia stans behind most of terrorist acts, most of terrorist groups and organizations since the very beginning of Israel state. In 1971 then-president of USSR Yuri Andropov openly declared that “our main weapon now is international terrorism”.
      The Crimea peninsula, which was annexed by Russia from Ukraine, is turned to a huge military outpost with 40,000 troops and so far 500 heavy sophisticated weapons, including (in project) the nuclear weapons. Of course Prez. Obama is loosing the momentum and soon, under the cover of useless and ridiculous talks Iran really will make a-bomb. It would be then much more difficult for Israel (and the USA, I hope) to destroy it.

  • noellsq

    the POTUS must have some connections to the AP.

  • Anti-Semitism is stoked by A P , BBC, France TV, Euronews ,etc. There can be no better option than for Jews to leave Europe for Israel or Canada.

  • Judy watson

    Laura King, exclusive reporter for the L.A.Times lived in Gaza during the entire conflict. I know this as she admitted it to me when I wrote her a email critical of her very biased and critical reporting. She stayed in one of their (Hamas) five star hotels, completely safe, during this conflict. Yet, she purported to be an independent observer for the newspaper. I was astounded at this conflict of interest.

  • Ueberdoofus

    I see nothing unique in AP’s reporting. They’ve long been known for biased reporting, particularly if it furthers agenda of the left, and their convenient blind eye when atrocities and human rights crimes are commited by Muslims. For some bizarre reason, Muslims are always the oppressed when Israel is concerned in the view of the left and their cohort, the AP. That so many Jews cling to socialist ideals despite being hit in the face with facts reveals a shallowness of intellectual acuity and honesty.

  • Jain Barrington-Wright

    Thank you, it is about time the Liars were brought to the attention of the people.
    If any Reporter Cannot tell the truth, to tell it exactly as it is, then they should Not be Reporters, or anything to do with publishing any stories about Israel or Gaza.Lies get people killed.

  • Mayven

    AP is consistent in much of what it writes rather than actual facts. They also make no effort to be journalistic responsible in much what they report.
    shameful mindsets.

  • Jerry Enis

    If the AP was extraordinary in its unethical and seemingly biased Mid-East reporting how do we explain similar abuses by other “respected” news organizations? It seems to me that there is a big WHY lurking out there that makes the editorial judgement very gullible when it comes to Israel.
    PR professionals are often looked down upon when their “selling” a story…but when it comes to “imaginative” stories painting Israel in a bad light, the rules change.

  • what about the hypocrisy of AP too! they ignore civilian casualties from US bombing in Syria and Iraq

  • renate rittmer

    One would hope that such investigative reporting would have the desired effect, however, one should not hold ones breath.

  • esther noodelman

    Congatulations,Behar and Weiss. We appreciate your excellent ,honest reporting of AP’s biased reporting on civilian casualties and especially when the teenage combatants’ father was a Hamas combatant.