CNN got this one right – Israel fails to make a case for desecrating a Gaza cemetery

CNN got this one right – Israel fails to make a case for desecrating a Gaza cemetery

Israel claims a tunnel ran through this Gaza cemetery it destroyed. A visit to the site raised more questions than answers. CNN doesn’t often challenge the Israel narrative, but this time, Jeremy Diamond was spot-on.

by Jeremy Diamond, reposted from CNN, January 29, 2024

[NOTE: below this excerpt, please read IAK’s commentary on CNN and other mainstream media outlets as sources for news about Israel and Palestine.]

A large void fills the space where rows of graves once stood.

The gaping hole is all that is left after the Israeli military excavated the western side of the Bani Suheila cemetery, near Khan Younis in southern Gaza, claiming a Hamas tunnel ran directly through the site and that Hamas militants attacked Israeli troops from here.

A week after a CNN investigation found that the Israeli military damaged or destroyed at least 16 cemeteries in Gaza since the beginning of the war, the Israeli military invited CNN into Gaza to explain why it partially destroyed one of those cemeteries.

But Israeli commanders failed to prove their claim during a three-hour visit to the Bani Suheila cemetery and the surrounding area.

On Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) took CNN into a tunnel near the Bani Suheila cemetery and into an underground command center that the military said was below the cemetery.

However, IDF commanders declined to show reporters the tunnel shaft they said emerged inside the cemetery, claiming there was sensitive machinery underground and that the structure was unstable.

“The whole thing can collapse,” said Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfuss, the commander of the IDF’s 98th Division. “You have to walk to the edge. The edge is not secure, it can collapse.”

A spokesman for the Israeli military said they would provide video of the tunnel shaft in the enormous hole, but never did…. Read the full CNN report

What makes this one different

By Kathryn Shihadah

Sometimes CNN does great reporting on Israel-Palestine; often it doesn’t. If Americans Knew has shared a few of CNN’s best and dissected a few of its worst. Check out some of them.

Almost all of the major, mainstream media outlets have a flawed track record when it comes to factual journalism on Palestine and Israel. If Americans Knew has reported on this often (especially here and here), as have other alternative media sites (for example, this and this).

We recently shared a piece on CNN’s practice of censoring all articles on the subject to ensure a pro-Israel spin – a practice that is well-known and followed to some extent by essentially all mainstream media.

In this particular CNN report, we have some excellent reporting.

What makes it excellent?

This journalist took the time and effort to fact-check the Israeli narrative (unlike BBC’s Lucy Williamson), and when it was found wanting, he asked questions. When it was still found wanting, he told his readers so.

If you read or watch mainstream media, watch carefully:

SOURCES: Do the reports quote only Israeli sources, or Palestinians as well? 

VOICES: Do war reports make use of eyewitness accounts, interviews with Palestinians? Few Western journalists have gotten unfettered access to Gaza – most embed with Israeli guides and hear only that narrative. If a report does not include the human toll on the people of Gaza (starvation, loss, destroyed health sector, etc.), you are not getting the truth.

BALANCE: Do they mention Israeli and Palestinian casualties in proportion to their numbers (for example, over 26,000 Gazans and 220 Israelis have been killed since this escalation began. If Palestinian lives matter as much as Israeli lives, we should to see Palestinian deaths mentioned much more often than Israeli deaths). How far down in the article do you have to read before you get to the suffering in Gaza?

WORD CHOICE: Are Palestinians described in humanizing terms, or are they referred to broadly as “terrorists”? (For more on the language of media bias, read this.) Do reports use words like “massacre,” “slaughter” and “atrocities” only for October 7th, or for Israel’s bombardment of Gaza too? Similarly, notice the wording of headlines, which can downplay culpability.

CONTEXT: Is the context of the conflict mentioned? Do reports mention the fact that Palestine was ethnically cleansed and occupied, that Gaza has been under a blockade for 17 years, or that Israel has been charged with genocide and apartheid – or does the story start with October 7th? Without a historical perspective, it’s impossible to truly understand Palestinian anger at Israel – and easy to assume antisemitism is the reason.

PROOF: Are Israeli claims backed up with proof? Israel has a long track record of lying, so it’s not prudent (especially for truth-seeking journalists) to simply believe Israeli mouthpieces are telling the truth. Apply the same test across the board – to Palestinian spokespeople, UN and other NGO representatives, etc.

To get an idea of how long mainstream media has been toeing the line for Israel, read Study finds 50-year history of anti-Palestinian bias in mainstream news reporting

Kathryn Shihadah is an editor and staff writer for If Americans Knew. She also blogs occasionally at Palestine Home.

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