Skip to content

Failing the Hamas Litmus Test

The inflammatory Al-Ahli hospital hoax shows that much of the Western media remains compulsively addicted to dangerous and self-defeating war journalism.

· 13 min read
Failing the Hamas Litmus Test
Palestinians evacuate the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital for safer spots after it was hit in Gaza City Palestinians evacuate the Al-Ahli CBaptist Hospital for safer spots after it was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on October 18, 2023. Alamy

If the unfathomable violence of October 7th showed us Hamas’s true nature and goals—and if the exultant response from Palestinian activists in the West taught us what they mean by a “non-violent civil society movement for freedom, justice and equality”—then what happened ten days later, revealed to the full light of day, the stunning, self-destructive dysfunctions of the Western media.

On October 17th, an explosive projectile was reported to have hit the Al-Ahli Baptist hospital in Gaza City at about 21:30. Hamas quickly alleged that an Israeli airstrike had destroyed the building and killed as many as 500 people. In fact, an errant jihadist rocket, fired from within Gaza, had fallen in the hospital’s parking lot. Although the final casualty figures are still not established, given the limited size of the blast and the few photos of the bodies, one European intelligence source estimated that 10–50 people died.

When Western journalists first approached the Israelis for comment about the alleged strike, they were told that Hamas’s claims were being investigated. But instead of awaiting further details, many of these reporters simply printed Hamas’s version of events. Like “stenographers,” journalists at the New York Times, BBC, AP, France 24, Reuters, CNN, the Washington Post, and the LA Times all repeated the unsubstantiated claims of a terrorist organization. Despite the egregious implausibility of those claims, and the highly volatile situation in which they were being made, the West’s legacy media carried the story just as Hamas wanted. Jihadist war propaganda was transformed into news.

On Instagram @quillette