Now more than ever, it is vital to be mindful of your news consumption. Where are you getting your news? What sources are being cited? Are counterclaims also reported? Are corrections issued when warranted?
As chaos continues in Gaza, media outlets are under an increased level of scrutiny to accurately report on the crisis. The explosion at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday showed how the media can mislead readers on crucial stories.
On Tuesday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health, a Hamas-controlled organization, said at least 500 people were killed by an Israeli airstrike on the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City. This claim was picked up widely in Western news outlets and around the world.
Protests erupted across the Middle East. In Jordan, people attempted to storm the Israeli embassy. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas withdrew from a planned meeting with President Joe Biden in protest.
Israel immediately denied blame and said it was an Islamic Jihad projectile that caused the blast and that the casualty reports were exaggerated. U.S. intelligence agreed with Israel's assessment.
As more information came to light, media outlets altered coverage to reflect the conflicting claims. For some, the alterations fueled preexisting distrust in media coverage and a perceived pro-Israeli bias in Western media. For others, the alterations represented a media failure to conduct due diligence and a willingness to accept Hamas' claims as fact in an attempt to paint Israel negatively.
The coverage demonstrated left-rated media's "willingness to embrace and peddle terrorist propaganda," wrote one Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias) writer. "Whatever you think the answer is, it is clear that these media outlets do not deserve the benefit of the doubt ... This wasn’t an innocent mistake or a typo. This was a conscious decision to parrot terrorist talking points and present it as news."
Hamas won a "significant information-warfare victory" in the "battle for the narrative," said columnist and foreign-policy analyst Max Boot (Left bias). "I am not suggesting that anyone should uncritically accept whatever Israel says. But that same skepticism should certainly extend to Hamas, a terrorist organization that is not noted for its devotion to either honesty or human decency."
Not everyone was convinced by Israel's account.
Israel's response was "consistent with its usual post-atrocity routine," wrote a media studies professor for the Qatari state-owned outlet Al Jazeera (Lean Left bias). "Israel commits a human rights atrocity, immediately denies having anything to do with it, says it has solid evidence that Palestinians committed the crime, and then just waits to see if someone manages to prove what really happened. If it eventually becomes clear that Israel did indeed carry out the atrocity, it silently accepts responsibility, but by then, the world’s focus has already moved on to other matters."
Last week, the media faced scrutiny and doubt over claims that Hamas beheaded babies during its surprise attack on Israel. This week, it faced scrutiny over the Al Ahli Arab Hospital bombing.
As the crisis in Gaza escalates with the expected Israeli invasion imminent, media mindfulness and a balanced news diet are more important than ever. We're tracking developments, highlighting divides in coverage, and flagging misinformation on the AllSides website.
More from AllSides
- Israel-Hamas War: We're tracking media coverage and flagging potential misinformation emerging from the conflict.
- Opinion from the Center: "I allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security as to the prospects for peace in the Middle East. I am furious with myself for letting my guard down."
- "Terrorists" or "Militants"? We analyzed how media outlets across the spectrum reported on the Hamas attacks.
- Common Ground: "Bickering over whose dead children deserve more sympathy doesn’t help anyone."
Snippets from the Left
"The definitive verdict has yet to be rendered, but it seems fair to say that Israel has a strong case: It has presented evidence backed by outside analysts, and Hamas has not. And yet much of the world did not wait for a fuller picture to emerge before rushing to condemn the Jewish state."
"Over the years, the same scenario played out over and over again as Israel repeatedly committed atrocities, denied responsibility and walked back its baseless denials only when the evidence to the contrary became too compelling and the world’s attention had moved elsewhere. This course of action proved beneficial for Israel as it bought it precious time in the court of public opinion."
Snippets from the Right
"The best-case scenario here is that these outlets assumed that the health ministry, which is run by the very same Hamas terrorists who just raped, kidnapped, and slaughtered Israeli civilians, would never dare lie to them. Journalists at those outlets treated the antisemitic animals that make up Hamas as trustworthy sources and then raced to put out stories quickly without checking any facts. Again, that is the best-case scenario."
"Hamas may still call this a success: Its propaganda held up long enough to set the Middle East ablaze. An angry mob took to the Ramallah streets to protest Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, for not doing enough to help Hamas. A mob tried to storm the Israeli embassy in Jordan."
Snippets from the Center
"A military spokesperson said there was no structural damage to buildings around the hospital and no craters consistent with an air strike. The spokesperson said Hamas had inflated the casualty numbers and said the group could not know as quickly as it claimed what caused the blast. The military also released an audio file and a transcript of what it said was a conversation between two Hamas militants saying an Islamic Jihad rocket had misfired."
"The lack of structural damage to surrounding buildings and the lack of a significant crater, he added, suggest the damage was not caused by an airstrike. His conclusion appears to have been supported by independent open-source intelligence analysis of the impact site. Skeptics noted the size of the explosion and subsequent fire, suggesting that militant rockets are not capable of producing such destruction and casualties. Hagari said that 'most of this damage would have been done due to the propellant, not just the warhead'."