New York Times says its coverage of Gaza hospital blast relied too heavily on Hamas claims

Palestinians check the site of an explosion at al-Ahli hospital, in Gaza City, October 18, 2023. (Abed Khaled/AP)
Palestinians check the site of an explosion at al-Ahli hospital, in Gaza City, October 18, 2023. (Abed Khaled/AP)

The New York Times, which repeatedly and prominently featured Hamas’s claim that the blast last week at Gaza City’s al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was caused by an Israeli airstrike, publishes an editors’ note acknowledging that its coverage should have been more journalistically rigorous.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza immediately blamed last Tuesday’s explosion on an Israeli airstrike.

However, Israel produced evidence showing it was caused by a failed rocket launch from Gaza at Israel by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, an assessment endorsed by the United States, which has said it has its own data to this effect.

While the New York Times story was updated as time went on, “editors should have taken more care with the initial presentation, and been more explicit about what information could be verified,” the editors’ note reads.

The initial reports “relied too heavily on claims by Hamas, and did not make clear that those claims could not immediately be verified.

“The report left readers with an incorrect impression about what was known and how credible the account was.”

Earlier today, the newspaper said the terror group has not provided, or even described, any evidence to back up its accusation that the explosion was caused by an Israeli strike.

An investigation by the Wall Street Journal has backed Israel’s version of events, as do assessments by CNN and the Associated Press.

The Israeli military has presented an intercepted conversation between Hamas officials saying the explosion was caused by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad projectile that fell short inside Gaza, and has provided images showing that the parking lot where the blast occurred didn’t have a crater in the ground and no structural damage had been dealt to nearby buildings — both of which would typically have been left by an IDF strike.

The US intelligence community believes that 100-300 people were killed at the Al-Ahli Hospital, while a European official put the toll at 50 or less.

Hamas health authorities swiftly put the death toll at 500, a number that was widely reported worldwide despite the fact that the terror group’s figure could not be independently verified.

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