The media’s miserable failure in reporting on Israel’s Jenin operation

Israeli soldiers in Jenin as part of a counter-terrorism operation, July 3, 2023. Credit: Israel Defense Forces.

by James Sinkinson

(FLAME) — While Israel’s military early this month mounted one of its most aggressive counter-offensives against Palestinian terrorists in years, the media have covered the event with some of their most unrestrained anti-Israel bias ever.

Most mainstream media failed to provide context for the terrorists’ motivation and murderous activities, or for the political reality in Jenin. Even more egregious, the media deprived the public of key facts about the Israeli military’s strategy for defending its citizens and raiding terrorist strongholds, as well as details on the huge arms caches the military discovered in Jenin.

Likewise, few media bothered to explain why the ruling Palestinian Authority has allowed the Jenin terrorists free rein. They also failed to recognize the Israel Defense Forces’ amazingly successful effort to disrupt Jenin’s terrorist infrastructure in a densely populated residential area without killing a single civilian.

Another key detail lacking in most coverage was any explanation for why a “refugee camp” even exists 75 years after the ancestors of Jenin’s current residents became displaced.

According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”

The media never point out that most people residing in the Jenin refugee camp were born there — or that the original refugees from 1948 have almost all passed away. Those living in Jenin are refugees because they insist on “returning” to a land they’ve never set foot in. They’re refugees because their Arab neighbors have for 75 years refused to settle them.

In short, the Jenin “refugee camp” is not a refugee camp at all, but rather simply a neighborhood of the city of Jenin — a neighborhood increasingly infested with terrorists. Like their terrorist brethren in other parts of Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, the gangs of Jenin have one goal — the destruction of Israel.

Notwithstanding, the media disingenuously declare the goal of the terrorists to be “resistance against Israeli occupation.” The Washington Post, for example, called the Jenin refugee camp “a hub of Palestinian resistance.”

But the Post and other media outlets fail to explain that the goal of this “resistance” is the destruction of Israel, which the terrorists believe illegally “occupies” their land. In fact they claim all territory from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River — the entire Jewish state, plus Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). The media also fail to mention that the terrorists’ strategy involves the murder of innocent Israeli citizens.

Another act of journalistic malfeasance is the media’s failure to point out that according to the Oslo Accords, responsibility for security in Jenin belongs solely to the P.A., which has completely lost control of the city. This forces Israel, in self-defense, to clean up Jenin’s proliferating nest of terrorism.

You also won’t hear on CNN or read in The New York Times of Iran’s increasing funding and influence on Palestinian terrorist organizations. Iran’s interloper role is no secret: Palestinian Islamic Jihad, one of Iran’s terrorist client groups, recently confirmed the Islamic Republic is arming terrorists in Judea and Samaria.

Some months ago, PIJ Secretary General, Ziyad al-Nakhalah said, “The weapons that the Palestinians use for fighting come from Iran — the Iranians either pay for these weapons or provide them.” Thus, it’s clear — but virtually unmentioned in most media — that Iran is attempting to form another front against Israel in Judea and Samaria, just as it has already done in Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

The IDF launched the counterterrorism operation in the Jenin camp in response to a recent wave of terrorism that has so far killed 28 Israelis, almost all civilians. Unsurprisingly though, many major media described Israel’s actions as malevolent. Reuters and MSNBC described an Israeli “attack” on Jenin. PBS reporter Leila Molana-Allen reported the operation as if the IDF were indiscriminately killing anything that moved. She spoke of missiles raining down and blood being “washed from the floor.”

The truth is, the IDF took great care to target only terrorists. The IDF sent infantry into the streets of the Jenin camp rather than rely on the massive artillery and airpower at its disposal, putting its own soldiers at risk to minimize civilian casualties. The IDF even sent text messages to the camp’s residents to warn them of combat operations.

In fact, the IDF performed one of the most successful surgical raids on terrorist headquarters in military history. They discovered and destroyed weapon- and bomb-making facilities, killed 12 terrorists and arrested about 150 terrorist suspects. Israeli forces even found one arsenal under a mosque — a place of worship turned into a terrorist hideout. Total number of civilian fatalities: zero.

Yet, media have accused Israel of senselessly killing innocent Palestinians. For example, while interviewing former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, BBC anchor Anjana Gadgil had the chutzpah to say, “The Israeli forces are happy to kill children,” even after Bennett correctly pointed out that all the Palestinians killed by the IDF were terrorists. International law holds that a combatant actively engaged in warfare is a combatant regardless of age. The BBC later apologized.

The media and international community were egregiously irresponsible in reporting the Jenin raid. In the service of anti-Israel sentiment bordering on antisemitism, they hid critical facts, twisted the truth and failed to provide a balanced analysis of the issues surrounding the complex situation in Jenin.

No other country in the world tolerates the cold-blooded murder of its citizens, nor does any other country in the world take the kind of care to avoid civilian casualties in its fight against terrorism that Israel does. It’s pathetic — and a malfeasant disservice to their customers — that the media refuse to tell these truths.

James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.