The New York Times on Monday admitted to relying “too heavily on claims by Hamas” after the terrorist group accused Israel of firing a rocket into a hospital and killing hundreds of people, even though there was no proof to support their claims and evidence indicates that the rocket was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad mislaunch that hit a parking lot.
The Times’ first headline about the Oct. 17 misfire stated: “Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say.” The outlet then altered the headline to “At Least 500 Dead in Strike on Gaza Hospital, Palestinians Say,” before finally changing it to “At Least 500 Dead in Blast at Gaza Hospital, Palestinians Say,” as shown by screenshots of the article from investigative reporter Sulaiman Ahmed.
“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,” the Times said in its editor’s note Monday.
“Given the sensitive nature of the news during a widening conflict, and the prominent promotion it received, Times editors should have taken more care with the initial presentation, and been more explicit about what information could be verified,” the note also stated.
After multiple media outlets ran the story last week based on statements from Hamas, the internationally designated terrorist group that runs the Gaza Strip, anti-Israel riots broke out across the Middle East.
Israel, the United States and multiple international agencies have all said evidence indicates that Palestinian terrorists shot the rocket.
About 20% of rockets aimed at Israel misfire into Gaza, according to Israeli officials, and the true death toll from the Islamic Jihad misfire last week is unclear.
American intelligence agencies state that the rocket misfire killed between 100 to 300 people, according to a new Times report on Monday.
The agency still suggested that terrorists may not have been behind the misfire. “Without examining the munition that hit the parking lot, it may be impossible to draw a definitive conclusion about who fired it,” the Times wrote.
The Rev. Fadi Diab, who serves as deputy chairman of the board of the affected hospital, said it was difficult to confirm the number of casualties. He said he was informed that up to 500 displaced Gazans were sheltering at the hospital location, but it was unclear how many were in the parking lot during the misfire.
“Could the numbers be exaggerated? It’s possible. But could the numbers also be correct? That’s also possible,” Father Diab said. “No one is currently able to do verification.”
The Times has been heavily criticized for its coverage of the Hamas war against Israel, which began Oct. 7 when terrorists invaded Israel and killed more than 1,400 people, including women, children and the elderly as well as at least 31 U.S. citizens.
For example, the paper rehired freelancer Soliman Hijjy to cover the war despite a history of social media posts praising Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.