Gaza ‘Victim’ Exposed With His AK-47
On August 4, HonestReporting critiqued a feature in The Sunday Times by advocacy journalist Sarah Helm. Given her track record of lies and distortions, it was not surprising that the article focusing on Palestinians injured at the Gaza border fence took a distinctly one-sided and biased approach.
Upon further examination, the story is even more problematic than we initially realized. Helm focused on Bilal Masoud, a 29-year old Gazan who sustained crippling injuries after being shot during violence at the border fence during the “Great March of Return.”
Masoud, unable to live with his injuries and a lack of support from Palestinian authorities, eventually committed suicide, setting himself ablaze with kerosene. It’s certainly a harrowing story — and Helm clearly intends to elicit sympathy for Masoud, who is consistently referred to by his first name throughout the piece.
Masoud is portrayed as someone who offered a very limited threat to Israelis or the IDF soldiers stationed on the other side of the border fence:
Bilal always took his slingshot: a piece of frayed nylon cord with a patch of Velcro for the stone, which Khalil now keeps. “It was part of him,” he says, demonstrating how Bilal, who was known as the “lion of the border,” would stand whirling the cord. I wonder whether “the lion” ever hit an Israeli soldier. Khalil shakes his head, saying he was lucky if he ever hit a watchtower.
The below image of Masoud is taken from The Sunday Times article. This is how Sarah Helm wants you to picture Masoud before his injuries. A young man armed only with a simple slingshot.
This is a man who, according to Helm’s article, merely threw stones, yet paid a terrible price:
“Bilal said, ‘I don’t care. I will throw stones,’ so we walked up close.” Were they close enough to see the soldiers? “Of course not! The Israelis were behind their hills. But they saw us,” and Khalil imitates a sniper. “Cowards,” says his mother.
After the publication of our original post, Joe Truzman, a researcher of terror organizations and author of the GroundBrief newsletter, contacted us. His online research revealed the Bilal Masoud that Sarah Helm and The Sunday Times didn’t want you to see. He sent us these photos:
Does this look like an innocent protester armed only with a slingshot?
Masoud may not have been carrying an AK-47 automatic rifle when he was shot by the IDF. These images, however, put into context that he was clearly a dangerous man with ill intent towards Israel, and capable of deadly violence had he managed to do more than cut the fence “a small bit.”
There is no doubt as to the man’s identity. Joe Truzman supplied Masoud’s ‘martyrs poster,’ the Arabic of which we had translated by a native speaker.
The Arabic reads:
The Higher National Commission for the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege acknowledges its martyr Bilal Mohammed Masoud.
We Shall Meet in Paradise.
Sarah Helm and The Sunday Times want you to believe that “Bilal is one of thousands shot by Israeli soldiers since the Great March of Return protests began near the fence in March last year.”
They want you to believe that the majority of those who have been shot were ordinary men, teenagers, and even journalists and press photographers.
Helm’s article has elevated Bilal Masoud to a status of martyrdom beyond that given by Palestinians to those of their number who lose their lives while committing acts of violence against Israel.
This is advocacy journalism in action — whitewashing Palestinian violence, and turning all Palestinians into victims of Israel, no matter the circumstances. Disguising Masoud’s background demonstrates a lack of transparency. Were Sunday Times editors made aware of this before the article was published?
You can read the original critique of Sarah Helm’s article here, to see how it presents Israel as being responsible for Gaza’s woes while virtually exonerating Hamas.
This new takeaway from Helm’s piece is yet further evidence that she should not be allowed to write for any mainstream media outlet, least of all The Sunday Times.
Simon Plosker is Managing Editor of HonestReporting, the world’s largest grassroots organization monitoring anti-Israel media bias. A version of this article was published — and the story broken — by HonestReporting.