UK media: IDF soldier’s death vanishes

On Friday afternoon, a terror attack on the Egyptian border resulted in the deaths of an Israeli soldier and three terrorists. According to the IDF, the amount of weaponry on the terrorists’ bodies indicated that they had intended to carry out a major attack on Israeli soil.

But how did some of the media report on the incident?

One important piece of context that appears to have been omitted from almost all of the coverage did appear in the Irish Times (emphasis added):

According to an initial investigation carried out by the Israeli army, the gunmen opened fire when a number of soldiers left their post to offer water to African migrants who had reached the border after crossing the Egyptian Sinai.


Three militants emerged from behind a cliff and opened fire on Israeli troops who were in the area to protect construction workers building the new security fence which will run along the entire 266km border. The army said the militants had monitored the group of 15 Africans and opened fire when several soldiers left their post to offer them water.

So the terrorists took advantage of the basic humanity of IDF soldiers, who, despite orders to apprehend or prevent African migrants from infiltrating the Israeli border, still treat these people like human beings, offering them aid.

But why would the media wish to convey such an image of Israeli soldiers when it doesn’t fit with the accepted narrative?

Most disturbingly, The Guardian ran with an Associated Press report in the immediate aftermath of the event. Perhaps the AP could be forgiven for failing to mention the killing of an IDF soldier in addition to the terrorists, due to a lack of information at that time. There is, however, no excuse for The Guardian not to update its coverage of the story once further details became available.

Instead, the last thing that Guardian readers are exposed to is this headline:

The headline is misleading on so many levels:

  • By placing the entire emphasis on Israeli forces killing Egyptian “militants”, it implies that the IDF were the instigators and the aggressors in the incident when, in fact, the opposite was the case.
  • Why is the word “militants” placed in quotation marks? Putting aside the issue of whether they should be referred to as terrorists, what exactly are they when they are armed to the teeth with weapons and opening fire on Israeli soldiers? They sure aren’t civilians.
  • The word “skirmish” significantly downplays the seriousness of the incident.
  • How does The Guardian know that the terrorists were Egyptian? At that time, not even the IDF or Egyptian security forces had positively identified the assailants, who could also conceivably have been Palestinians from Gaza.

Another shocking headline came courtesy of The Scotsman:

Note to The Scotsman: An IDF soldier was killed. Period.

Is The Scotsman implying through its headline that the death of 20 year old Netanel Yahalomi is merely an unconfirmed claim? Or that Israel isn’t to be trusted when it comes to disseminating information?

The Daily Telegraph went with an odd usage of language in its sub header:

The terrorists came under fire and died? This conjures images of armed men simply collapsing due to something akin to a heart attack. Bizarre.

Considering the number of Israeli civilians whom the media have reported to have “died” as a result of “militant” attacks in the past, perhaps we should be relieved that the other side has come in for the same treatment.

It can be no compensation, however, for the tragic loss of Netanel Yahalomi nor for the regular dehumanization and sometimes demonization of the brave young men who risk their lives to defend Israel’s increasingly volatile borders.

About the Author
Simon Plosker is the Editorial Director of HonestReporting, returning to the media watchdog in October 2022, having previously been part of the organization’s management team from 2005 to 2020. Prior to his first spell at HonestReporting, Simon worked in Israel for NGO Monitor, BICOM, and served for a short period in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. He was Managing Editor of the Geneva-based NGO United Nations Watch for two years before deciding to rejoin the frontline defending Israel from media bias. Simon has a BSoc.Sc in International Studies and Political Science from the University of Birmingham and an MSc in History of International Relations from the London School of Economics. He immigrated to Israel in 2001 from London.