Israel slams CNN, CBS coverage of Jaffa Gate terror attack
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Israel slams CNN, CBS coverage of Jaffa Gate terror attack

Government Press Office lodges complaint with US media outlets for lumping together attackers, victims in fatal stabbing

Israeli security personnel at the scene where two Palestinians carried out a stabbing attack near the Old City’s Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, December 23, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli security personnel at the scene where two Palestinians carried out a stabbing attack near the Old City’s Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, December 23, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s Government Press Office on Thursday sent letters to CNN and CBS censuring their media coverage of the Jaffa Gate stabbing on Wednesday and demanding explanations.

Two Palestinian men stabbed two Israelis outside Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday, before security forces opened fire and killed them. Rabbi Reuben Birmajer later died of wounds sustained in the stabbing. Also killed in the attack was Ofer Ben Ari, 46, who died after being mistakenly shot by police amid the chaos of the attack. Another Israeli was badly wounded in the terror attack.

In covering the attack, after the two Israelis succumbed to their injuries, CNN’s headline read: “Four die in violent stabbing at Jaffa Gate.” CBS, meanwhile, initially wrote: “2 Palestinians killed after stabbing attack in Jerusalem.” The headline was later changed to “2 Israelis dead after stabbing attack in Jerusalem; 2 Palestinian assailants killed.”

In a letter to CNN, GPO chief Nitzan Chen said he was “deeply concerned” by the headline.

“We believe that combining the two murderers with the two victims into ‘four dead’ is not only dishonest and unethical journalism, but also borders on incitement, since the viewer can easily misinterpret it,” he wrote, according to the Ynet news website.

“Reporting ‘four dead’ only leads us to conclude that the person who wrote this headline had a clear political agenda. We strongly condemn such journalism,” continued Chen. Earlier CNN reports of the attack distinguished between the wounded Israelis and the Palestinian attackers.

In his letter to CBS, Chen said he was “stunned” by the headline, and maintained: “We cannot think of a worse example of anti-Israel bias than the unfortunate headline that appeared on your website yesterday, even if it was only for a short time.

“The first headline is clearly turning the murderers into victims in the most inflammatory way possible,” he wrote. “There can be no justification for this. Beyond the immediate risk it poses to Israelis against possible Arab revenge attacks, it is simply dishonest and unethical journalism.”

Also fiercely criticized on social media was the initial New York Times headline, which read: “2 Palestinian attackers killed, 2 Israelis die in Jerusalem.” The headline was revised several hours later to: “Palestinian stabbers kill Israeli, assailants shot dead.”

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