Among so many anti-Israel journalists reporting on that much-maligned Jewish state for the British media, Catherine Philp of the Times of London has earned a place in the pantheon, in the company of the BBC‘s Robert Fisk, Jeremy Bowen, Barbara Plett, Orla Guerin, and Yolande Knell. Her recent dispatches about Jenin did not disappoint. More on her performance can be found here: “Times’ Reporter Tries to Turn Palestinian Terrorist Into a Civilian,” by Adam Levick, CAMERA UK, July 10, 2023:
For years, we’ve been documenting the egregious anti-Israel bias of The Times former Middle East correspondent Catherine Philp, However, a report she published yesterday was so biased, and so clearly coloured by her own pro-Palestinian views, that it hardly can be called “journalism”.
The putatively straight news article published on July 9 was titled “Palestinian boy killed by Israeli sniper in Jenin was unarmed, CCTV suggests”, but, as her tweet of the article shows, it seems to have been motivated by her frustration with the fact that there hasn’t been one confirmed civilian death during Israel’s two-day anti-terror operation in Jenin last week.
Let’s be clear. It is the Palestinian terror groups themselves – mainly Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas – that have claimed that all 12 of those killed in the Jenin camp by the IDF were their fighters. The IDF concurs, insisting that all 12 were combatants. Catherine Philp is not only taking issue with the Israelis – she always does that – but also with the terror groups that have been perfectly willing to admit that there were no non-combatants among those killed.
While the article begins by suggesting that a Palestinian in Jenin named Abdulrahman Hasan Ahmad Hardan was unarmed when he was shot by soldiers, it then proceeds to claim that he was an uninvolved civilian, and not a terrorist as was reported.
Here are the relevant paragraphs:
Militant groups such as the relatively new Jenin Brigades, Islamic Jihad and the armed wing of Fatah have little compunction about claiming non-combatants, even unarmed women and children, as their martyrs. Militants brought banners to the house celebrating him as such; his family expressed their unhappiness at that — at not inconsiderable risk to themselves — but they were adamant: Abdulrahman was not a militant and did not belong to any armed group.
[His mother] wept as she described rushing to Jenin after learning that her son had been shot in the head. He died five hours later in surgery. “He was an ordinary boy, he was not a terrorist like they are saying,” his mother said.
The mother lived outside Jenin. If her son had decided suddenly to join the combatants fighting the IDF, she would likely not have known it. Abdulrahman may not have been a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad before the IDF arrived, but he quickly attached himself to the PIJ as an eager “combatant.” That is why the IDF shot him, and why the PIJ proudly claims him as one of their own.
But here is Philp’s version that attempts to convince us that Abdulrahman was a non-combatant, despite the converging claims of the IDF and the PIJ:
When Islamic Jihad posted photographs of its claimed martyrs, Abdulrahman was the only one not pictured with a firearm.
asked if Abdulrahman had been armed, Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Hecht, the Israel Defence Force’s international spokesman, replied “yes”. When asked with what, he answered: “An automatic rifle.”
Hecht then pointed The Times to social media posts by Islamic Jihad claiming him as a fighter. It is commonplace for Palestinian militant groups to claim any male casualty as a martyr, to bolster perceptions of their strength.
Abdulrahman was not the only fighter with a photo showing him without a rifle. Several others, among the eight just claimed by PIJ to be their fighters, are also shown without weapons. In other words, holding a rifle for a photograph was not a sine qua non for belonging to, or fighting alongside members of, PIJ. Philp wants her audience to believe that the photo of Abdulrahman without a rifle is conclusive evidence of his not being a combatant or a member of the PIJ, but then how does she explain the others who were identified as PIJ members, and like Abdulrahman, were photographed without a weapon?
Turning to Philps’ argument that claims by proscribed terror groups that a Palestinian killed by Israeli soldiers are their members are not evidence that they were indeed affiliated with the group: We conferred with our colleagues at CAMERA Arabic, who explained that while terror organisations do tend to mourn all Palestinians killed by Israeli fire, their Arabic public announcements differ between “the martyred hero” when the deceased was not a member and “its” martyred hero” when he was, e.g. Hamas here (not members) vs here and here (members).
Specifically, concerning “martyrs” that targeted Israeli civilians both in Israel and the West Bank, CAMERA Arabic compiled a list of eight cases in the past year in which no organisation claimed the attacker:
- 20/9/22: “Martyr” Musa Sarsour from Qalqiliya, murdered 84-yo Shulamit Rachel Ovadia in Holon and committed suicide afterwards.
- 22/9/22: “Martyr” Muhammad Abu Jum’a, attacked by-passers in the Shilat junction with a knife.
- 5/11/22: “Martyr” Mus’ab Nafal, threw stones at Israeli civilians near Ramallah.
- 11/1/23: “Martyr” Sanad Samamra, carried out a stabbing attack in the Havat Yehuda outpost near Hebron.
- 10/3/23: “Martyr” Abdel Kareem Sheikh carried out an attack with a knife and IEDs near Havat Dorot, south of Ari’el
- 24/3/23: “Martyr” Karm Salman tried to enter Kdumim with a loaded gun and attack civilians.
- 24/4/23: “Martyr” Hatem Abu Nijmeh carried out a ramming attack at the Mahane Yehuda market – note that in this webpage Fatah did not claim him, the funeral picture belongs to a previous martyr they misleadingly used in their website since.
- 26/5/23: “Martyr” Alaa’ Qaysiya, carried out a stabbing attack in the Tene Omarim settlement south of Hebron….
In other words, there were many cases of Palestinians killed by Israelis, who were not claimed by any terror group, contrary to Philp’s assertion that those groups as a rule claim all those killed by the IDF to be among their fighters in order to increase their prestige.
Catherine Philp presents no credible evidence that Abdulrahman was a non-combatant. He was claimed by both the IDF and, more importantly, by the PIJ, to have been a combatant. The fact that there is a photograph of him without a rifle means nothing; many terrorists – nine are listed above – have been similarly photographed. When she claims that the IDF has killed 35 “children” so far in 2023, she ignores that fact that more than 30 of these “children” were either identified as members of terror groups, or were involved in violent clashes with the IDF at the time they were killed. Philp is intent on blackening the IDF’s image by denying that Abdulrahman was a combatant. However, the PIJ itself proudly claims that he was a member of the terror group and was killed while involved in fighting the Israelis. In this case, I’d believe the PIJ’s claim (that is backed up by the IDF), and not the malevolent journalist who is so determined to undermine the Israeli state.