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Haaretz and the Military Press Bureau - Who Inspires Whom?

Military press releases in English Lack Parts Of Hebrew versions, reports Haaretz - in its Hebrew edition only


10 Dec. 2002

The following article was published by Edo Amin, a journalist in Tel Aviv, Israel, in the 6 Dec.issue of his weekly newsletter, Doch Amin (The Amin Report). A similar version of the article was published the same day in Israeli daily Haaretz, but omitted from the English online edition. I translated it here, as a service to Haaretz readers in English.

Civilians Killed On Duty

Edo Amin

Reports from Israeli officials after the Hebron attack on 15 Nov. made some foreign journalists raise an eyebrow. The Washington Post, for example, wrote, “Israeli officials initially described the shooting… as a massacre of Jewish settlers walking home after Sabbath prayers at a religious shrine” (“Israel Storms Into Hebron After Attack, Army Reveals Ambush Didn't Kill Worshipers,” By Molly Moore Washington Post Foreign Service Sunday, November 17, 2002; Page A01, - emphasis by oznik-news).

In fact, the only civilians killed in the attack were armed settlers, members of Response Team, including their officer. The three were buried in a military ceremony in a civil graveyard. This passing week the minister of security announced that they would be retroactively given the status of soldiers.

This might have been the cause for some confusion on the IDF spokesperson web site. The site contains press releases in Hebrew and in English. Nov. 16th press releases describe the funerals and the attack. English press releases of the same datecontain only reports on the funerals of those “who died in the line of duty,” in an attack that apparently was never reported in English.

The expanded Hebrew version from the IDF Spokesperson contains an even curioser oddity, which remains uncorrected even two weeks after the event. The report on the Spokesperson web site quotes a witness to the attack as saying “Suddenly you see fire coming at you from every direction.

Shots from your right and left, from every direction. All kinds of fire, bullets, grenades. I did not know where to go.

I lay on the floor with all my gear… they ran a slaughterhouse here. They knew exactly what we do, each and every step.”

You know what? I don’t believe a single word of this. The witness whose picturesque description is quoted on the IDF Spokesperson web site is Arik Mariner, the same man who gave similar interviews to national television, and to the IDF Radio News, and who was arrested the next day on suspicion that he pretended to have been a witness to the attack in Hebron.

PS: Following the publication of this article, the IDF cleaned up its Hebrew report on the incident.