First came an “Editor’s Note” conceding the New York Times could have been more clear in its initial reporting that Israel bombed a hospital.
The Times’s initial accounts attributed the claim of Israeli responsibility to Palestinian officials, and noted that the Israeli military said it was investigating the blast. However, the early versions of the coverage — and the prominence it received in a headline, news alert and social media channels — 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.
Mind you, it didn’t admit that it was wrong, but merely that the banner headline left readers with an “incorrect impression.” Then came the Executive Editor’s verbal rationalization about how hard it is to get facts right in the fog of war. Seizing upon a trendy excuse, Joe Kahn claims the headline “evolved.”
But as it turns out, the New York Times hasn’t yet given up the ship. Notwithstanding the conclusions of United States and Israeli intelligence, the Times put its own team to work on finding excuses to make itself not look like blithering idiots, and while they have failed miserably to come up with any affirmative evidence of anything, they claim to have debunked the significance of video evidence of the Hamas rocket landing in the hospital parking lot.
The video shows a projectile streaking through the darkened skies over Gaza and exploding in the air. Seconds later, another explosion is seen on the ground.
The footage has become a widely cited piece of evidence as Israeli and American officials have made the case that an errant Palestinian rocket malfunctioned in the sky, fell to the ground and caused a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza City.
While this is only one of many pieces of evidence demonstrating that Israel didn’t bomb the hospital, the Times deems it important enough to pick at the scab of its failure, not to mention the riots that arose from its “misimpression.”
But a detailed visual analysis by The New York Times concludes that the video clip — taken from an Al Jazeera television camera livestreaming on the night of Oct. 17 — shows something else. The missile seen in the video is most likely not what caused the explosion at the hospital. It actually detonated in the sky roughly two miles away, The Times found, and is an unrelated aspect of the fighting that unfolded over the Israeli-Gaza border that night.
Since the New York Times isn’t a person, you might wonder who conducted this “detailed visual analysis” and what qualifications they possessed to make their conclusions worthy of interest. Your wonderment will go unsated.
The Times’s finding does not answer what actually did cause the Al-Ahli Arab hospital blast, or who is responsible.
Was responsibility for the bombing still in issue?
The contention by Israeli and American intelligence agencies that a failed Palestinian rocket launch is to blame remains plausible.
Plausible? On the one side, there’s the claim of Hamas, a terrorist group that had just raped, kidnapped, murdered and beheaded women, children and the elderly, and had a bit of a public relations problem on their hands, claiming Israel bombed a hospital when it turned out that the hospital was never bombed, but only a courtyard parking lot, and there is no evidence whatsoever to support any claim Hamas made. On the other, United States and Israeli intelligence. Plausible?
What the New York Times is relying on to salvage its disgraced integrity is a shift in the burden of proof. Hamas having initially claimed it was Israel, and the NYT having bought the story because it was a major piece of outrage click bait and it gave rise, for the first time, to a substantive basis to claim an equivalence between Hamas’ terrorism and Israel’s response. NYT readers desperately wanted something hard to blame on Israel so they wouldn’t feel stupid trying to equate raping and murdering with the effort to eradicate a terrorist group that used its own people’s babies as shields. NYT reporters too.
The hospital blast has become a searing, contested episode in the war that began on Oct. 7 after Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, invaded Israel, an attack that the Israeli government says killed more than 1,400 civilians and soldiers, and seized 200 hostages who were taken back to Gaza. Israel has responded to the Hamas attack with a relentless artillery and bombing campaign that has killed 5,700 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Gazan Health Ministry, as the Israeli military prepares for a ground invasion.
It became a “searing, contested episode” because newspapers like the New York Times reported that Israel bombed a hospital and killed 200 500 800 471 Palestinians. And they haven’t yet accepted the premise that Hamas’ baseless claim doesn’t satisfy the burden of proof and compel Israel and the United States to prove the negative, that Israel didn’t do it.