FRESH AIR

Al Jazeera hearts anti-Israel terrorism (continued)

May 30, 2022 | Judy Maynard

Al Jazeera's Ahmed Mansour (Screenshot)
Al Jazeera's Ahmed Mansour (Screenshot)

AIJAC reported recently on the publicly expressed admiration by senior Al Jazeera (AJ) employees for the perpetrators of a fortnight-long spate of Palestinian terror attacks across the country that by April 7 had left 14 Israelis dead.  

Tragically, the attacks have continued with further loss of innocent lives. So too has the unashamed barracking from AJ employees. 

On May 5, which this year marked Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, two men from near Jenin in the West Bank, allegedly As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, 19, and Subhi Emad Sbeihat, 20, asked Oren Ben Yiftah, a 37-year-old driver and father of six from Lod, for a lift from the security barrier to the ultra-Orthodox city of Elad in central Israel in order, as they told him, to carry out urgent repairs to a synagogue. Ben Yiftah had helped transport the pair at least 10 times previously, unaware they were in Israel illegally. 

As the vehicle approached the synagogue, the pair attacked him with an axe and knife, fatally wounding him. Continuing on their murderous rampage, they went on to kill Yonatan Havakuk and Boaz Gol, injuring several others. Havakuk and Gol were both in their 40s, and both fathers of five.  

After an intense manhunt lasting 60 hours the pair was discovered hiding in bushes and arrested. An axe was recovered nearby. 

Despite the unspeakable brutality of their attacks on innocent civilians, the pair’s ability to evade the Israeli security forces for a time elicited more approving tweets from prominent AJ journalist and host Ahmed Mansour, and his colleague, presenter Tamer Almisshal, both of whom had been amongst the AJ personnel who tweeted rhapsodically about previous attacks and their perpetrators. 

As noted by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) Mansour tweeted on May 8, “The success of the perpetrators of the Elad settlement operation in disappearance and escape over the past few days, despite the security cooperation between the Israeli entity and the authority and the agents and traitors, reveals the fragility of Israel’s security system.” 

Almisshal chimed in with “Two young men confused [the Israeli] entity. The occupation arrests the perpetrators of the Elad attack, after a chase that lasted for three days.” 

The Twitter feed of Al Jazeera Palestine contained numerous cursory reports of the Elad attack and ensuing manhunt, not one of which appears to have bothered with describing or even listing the victims of the carnage. However, more detail appeared in a tweet on May 8 purporting to justify the attack: “The father of the young man, Subhi Sbeihat, one of the perpetrators of Operation Elad: ‘The occupation bears responsibility for everything that happens and my son was revolting against the settlers’ attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque, and this is the only motive for carrying out the operation with his friend.’” 

Possibly the only “casualty” mentioned in AJ’s Twitter feed was one of the alleged murderers, a photo of whose bruised face was accompanied by the comment: “An image showing the effects of the assault on the prisoner, Subhi Sbeihat, one of the perpetrators of the Elad operation.” 

AJ clearly makes no pretence at impartiality, yet here it went so far as to infer that the alleged murderer was actually a victim – of police brutality. This outrageous suggestion was undermined by the Times of Israel’s report noting that “the pair sustained injuries during the attack — several of the victims fought with the terrorists, according to medical and security officials.” 

Meanwhile, the former director of Al Jazeera, Jordanian journalist Yasser Abu Hilalah, continuing his anti-Israel activism, tweeted this justification of the Elad attack “The Zionists think that they have transformed the three million Palestinians in the West Bank into sheep that are led to the slaughter, bereft of a homeland, of citizenship and of a state. They break up their country with checkpoints, roads, fences and settlements and desecrate their holy sites. [But the Palestinians] are honourable people who resist with whatever means are available to them: machine guns, stones, knives or axes.”  

On May 8, only days after the carnage in Elad, an Israeli resident of Tekoa in the West Bank shot dead a Palestinian youth, armed with a knife, who had infiltrated the settlement’s perimeter fence. 

Mansour lauded this would-be murderer as well, tweeting, “The success of a Palestinian youth carrying a knife in penetrating the settlement of Tekoa, which enjoys heavy security, and his arrival to a house, then his martyrdom at the hands of a settler that spreads terror throughout the Israeli entity, as there is no longer a safe occupier for his life, and all settlements, cities, and even Israeli institutions are subject to attack at any time.” 

AJ Palestine posted a photo of a flower-strewn body of the would-be attacker, Muatasem Mohammad Taleb Atallah, borne aloft by mourners, with the misleading caption “A Palestinian was shot dead by an Israeli settler near the settlement of Tekoa”, omitting all the circumstances relevant to an understanding of exactly what had transpired. 

On all its platforms, AJ has proven itself highly tolerant of extreme anti-Israel viewpoints, whether expressed in the framing of supposed news stories, in op-eds (neutral or pro-Israel pieces very rarely feature), or in the social media of its high profile journalists, presenters and producers.  

In the aftermath of the tragic death on May 11 of long-time AJ journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot in the ferment of conflict that spawned the recent terrorist attacks, observers would do well to remember that AJ has been a major source for the claims from across the world that she was deliberately targeted by Israel.  

On the day she died, AJ released a statement that declared, “In a blatant murder, violating international laws and norms, the Israeli occupation forces assassinated in cold blood Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Palestine, Shireen Abu Akleh, targeting her with live fire early this morning.” 

This was despite the fact that an initial autopsy conducted by Palestinian coroners found it was “not possible” to even say whether she was killed by Israeli or Palestinian gunfire.  

Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which had rejected Israel’s request for a joint investigation into Abu Akleh’s death but said it welcomed the participation of international organisations, later walked this back. Stating, “We also refused to have an international investigation because we trust our capabilities as a security institution. We will not hand over any of the evidence to anyone because we know that these people are able to falsify the facts.” 

Yet despite the lack of transparency with regard to the investigation, and in the absence of any official findings to date, AJ has only doubled down on its initial outrageous and unsubstantiated claim and released a propaganda video repeating its allegations. 

Once again, Al Jazeera’s endless toleration of the one-sided, partisan and unprofessional public statements of its employees belies its stated commitment to upholding recognised journalistic ethics and undermines its credibility as a news organisation. Its insistence that Abu Akleh was deliberately murdered should be seen as part and parcel of its extremism – including open cheerleading for terrorism against Israeli civilians. 

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