See No Evil, Report No Evil? Reuters, AP Reimagine Antisemitic West Bank Riots as ‘Protests’
Two news wire services — the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters — continue to sanitize aggressive and antisemitic Palestinian efforts to intimidate Jews living in West Bank communities. Despite widely documented acts of terror, the AP and Reuters continue to refer to the riots as “protests” against Israeli “settlements,” seemingly turning a blind eye to the “protesters’” stated genocidal goal of “burning [Israelis] alive.”
Since May, at least six Palestinians from the West Bank town of Beita, located south of Nablus, have been killed by Israeli security forces while participating in ongoing violent riots that have been characterized by eco-terrorism, the setting off of powerful explosive devices, and displays of blatant Jew-hatred.
On Friday, December 10, there was a new development in the story. A rioter from Beita died after suffering a head injury during violent clashes with Israeli security forces. According to an Israel Defense Forces statement, the incident occurred when hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks and burning tires at troops who had responded to unrest at a known flashpoint outside the village.
Indeed, photos taken at the scene show Palestinians hurling stones at IDF vehicles (see here and here). Local Palestinian sources later confirmed that a man by the name of Jamil Abu Ayyash was in the middle of the act of launching objects with a slingshot when he was neutralized by Israeli security forces at around 2:45 PM. He was subsequently transported to the hospital and declared dead after resuscitation attempts failed.
The US-designated Hamas terror group hailed Abu Ayyash as a “heroic martyr.” At his funeral, held with Palestinian Authority military honors, hundreds of attendees shouted slogans in support of Hamas and Palestinian arch-terrorist Mohammed Deif. Following his burial, residents of Beita set fire to an Israeli army post near the village.
However, international media coverage failed to present these facts. Instead, a December 10 Reuters article euphemistically described the event as “clashes at a protest against Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.” Meanwhile, the AP asserted that “[t]he Palestinians have been demonstrating against the establishment of an unauthorized Israeli settlement outpost they say was built on their land.” [emphasis added]
The problematic coverage of West Bank unrest runs deeper than last week’s incident.
As HonestReporting has repeatedly highlighted (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), so-called “popular resistance units” from Beita have terrorized Jewish communities for over half a year. Between May and August 2021 alone, rioters reportedly burned over 80,000 tires, seriously damaging the environment and posing a grave health threat to West Bank residents — Arabs and Jews alike.
The resulting clouds of toxic smoke, in addition to the deployment of so-called “night confusion” tactics first developed by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, were aimed specifically at driving out the local Jewish population — particularly those living in a newly established but highly contested Israeli outpost called Evyatar.
In an effort to reduce tensions, Jerusalem in June backed a deal that saw all Israeli citizens leave the hilltop pending an inquiry into the ownership of the land. The residents of Beita, however, rejected the compromise and intensified their violence.
“The torch unit is improving its abilities to harass [Israelis] in a new way currently at Jabal Sbeih [near Evyatar],” the rioters wrote in a Facebook post dated August 14. They then detonated numerous powerful explosives — and the shock waves were felt in towns across the region.
The rioters on at least three separate occasions burned makeshift swastikas embedded within Jewish Stars of David. “You [Israelis] are worse than Hitler and the Nazis,” the organizers of the Beita riots have said. “Yes, we want to burn you alive. That is all we are working for,” they asserted. In line with their publicly stated goal, they have set ablaze a model of an Israeli village and an effigy of an Orthodox Jew.
All the while, the Associated Press this year printed 17 stories that mentioned Beita. Reuters produced another 10 articles highlighting the Palestinian village. Yet, an analysis by HonestReporting found that neither of the two major news agencies bothered to mention the Jew-hatred espoused by Beita residents even once.
Additionally, our exclusive research revealed that the Western-backed Palestinian Authority is actively backing the extremists, a fact that was also entirely erased from the news coverage.
As we pointed out as recently as last week, Reuters and AP produce reports that are republished on websites and in newspapers around the world. When these agencies get their reporting right, it means that many millions of people are exposed to good coverage. When these wire services obfuscate the facts on the ground, however, millions are exposed to false or misleading reporting.
The author is a writer-researcher for HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias, where a version of this article first appeared.