Remember the “Jenin massacre?”
In April 2002, IDF forces fought with Palestinian guerrillas from the Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad factions for 10 days. After the dust cleared, 23 Israelis were dead along with 52 Palestinians, of whom 5 were judged to be non-combatants.
Reports of the devastation multiplied, larded with atrocity stories. A ‘documentary film‘ made by a Palestinian director was full of such charges, including the supposed destruction of a hospital wing by tank shells. Later, it was pointed out that no such wing had ever existed.
Nothing was more gripping than on-the-scene reporting by Phil Reeves of the UK Independent, scant days after the battle ended:
A monstrous war crime that Israel has tried to cover up for a fortnight has finally been exposed. Its troops have caused devastation in the centre of the Jenin refugee camp, reached yesterday by The Independent, where thousands of people are still living amid the ruins.
A residential area roughly 160,000 square yards about a third of a mile wide has been reduced to dust. Rubble has been shovelled by bulldozers into 30ft piles. The sweet and ghastly reek of rotting human bodies is everywhere, evidence that it is a human tomb. The people, who spent days hiding in basements crowded into single rooms as the rockets pounded in, say there are hundreds of corpses, entombed beneath the dust, under a field of debris, criss-crossed with tank and bulldozer treadmarks.
In one nearby half-wrecked building, gutted by fire, lies the fly-blown corpse of a man covered by a tartan rug. In another we found the remains of 23-year-old Ashraf Abu Hejar beneath the ruins of a fire-blackened room that collapsed on him after being hit by a rocket. His head is shrunken and blackened. In a third, five long-dead men lay under blankets.
A quiet, sad-looking young man called Kamal Anis led us across the wasteland, littered now with detritus of what were once households, foam rubber, torn clothes, shoes, tin cans, children’s toys. He suddenly stopped. This was a mass grave, he said, pointing.
We stared at a mound of debris. Here, he said, he saw the Israeli soldiers pile 30 bodies beneath a half-wrecked house. When the pile was complete, they bulldozed the building, bringing its ruins down on the corpses. Then they flattened the area with a tank. We could not see the bodies. But we could smell them.
Reeves never said that he saw the “hundreds of corpses.” But one has to be a careful reader to notice that. In another article, he simply repeated ugly Palestinian stories:
In the first of this article published yesterday we described how even children were not immune from the Israeli onslaught. Faris Zeben, a 14-year-old boy, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in cold blood. The soldiers in the tank gave no warning, said Faris’ eight-year-old brother Abdel Rahman. And after they shot Faris they did nothing.
Fifteen-year-old Mohammed Hawashin was shot dead as he tried to walk through the camp. Aliya Zubeidi told us how she was on her way to the hospital to see the body of her son Ziad, a fighter from the Al-Aqsa brigades, who had been killed in the fighting. Mohammed accompanied her. “I heard shooting,” said Ms Zubeidi. “The boy was sitting in the door. I thought he was hiding from the bullets. Then he said, ‘Help.’ We couldn’t do anything for him. He had been shot in the face.” In a deserted road by the periphery of the refugee camp, we found the flattened remains of a wheelchair. It had been utterly crushed, ironed flat as if in a cartoon. In the middle of the debris lay a broken white flag. Durar Hassan told us how his friend, Kemal Zughayer, was shot dead as he tried to wheel himself up the road. The Israeli tanks must have driven over the body, because when Hassan found it, one leg and both arms were missing, and the face, he said, had been ripped in two.
There’s more, but you get the idea. Reeves’ ‘reporting’ consisted of a combination of suggestions of terrible hidden crimes, uncritical repetition of Palestinian stories, and an overall tear-jerking emotional tone. He was careful, however, not to explicitly make any false statements that could be checked.
By his series of sensational articles in the Independent, Reeves may have done as much or more than any Western reporter to spread the myth of the ‘Jenin Massacre.’
So where is Phil Reeves now?
Where does he fit, this vicious little whore, this character assassin of the Jewish state, this yellow journalist?
Where else? Reeves — now called ‘Philip’ instead of ‘Phil’, befitting his new-found respectability as a ‘journalist’, found a spot at that paragon of fairness and professionalism, NPR!
Philip Reeves is an award-winning veteran foreign correspondent who covers Europe out of NPR’s bureau in London…
Reeves joined NPR in 2004, after spending 17 years as a correspondent for the British daily newspaper, The Independent. During the early stages of his career, he worked for BBC radio and television after training on the Bath Chronicle newspaper in western Britain.
If you’re interested, you can find more about NPR here.