Harriet Sherwood falsely reports on alleged arrests of Palestinians at ‘Bab al-Shams’

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report, ‘Israel evicts E1 Palestinian peace camp activists, Jan. 13, about Palestinian protesters who set up a tent city, named Bab al-Shams, in the area between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim known as E-1, and were recently removed by Israeli police, began as follows:

“The Israeli state has swung into action against a group of Palestinian activists who established a tent village on a rocky hillside east of Jerusalem, with hundreds of security officials carrying out an eviction under the orders of the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

According to activists, a large military force surrounded the encampment at around 3am. All protesters were arrested and six were injured, said Abir Kopty.”

Further in the report, Sherwood added the following:

Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti, who was among those arrested, said the eviction was “proof that the Israeli government operates an apartheid system.

However, according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, there were no arrests made — a statement which was accurately reported by several Arab media outlets and which Rosenfeld confirmed today to CAMERA. According to Rosenfeld, a few activists were detained briefly, then released.

Today, CAMERA prompted a speedy correction to a CNN report which also included false allegations about protester arrests.

As CAMERA noted in their post about the original CNN error, even  Al Jazeera, “hardly a source known for reporting skewed in Israel’s favor” reported the story accurately, writing the following:

“Several activists were detained during Sunday morning eviction, including Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Al Jazeera’s correspondent, reporting from Jerusalem, said.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Ferguson, reporting from Jerusalem, said the activists who were detained were driven to Qalandiya checkpoint and then released.”

Additionally, here’s how the Arab News reported it:

“Hundreds of Israeli police came from all directions, surrounding all those who were in the tents and arresting them one by one,” Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti told AFP.

But police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that no arrests had been made.

And, here’s the relevant passage from a report by the Egyptian site, Ahram Online:

“Hundreds of Israeli police came from all directions, surrounding all those who were in the tents and arresting them one by one,” Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti told AFP.

But police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that no arrests had been made.

“They were told they were trespassing and carefully escorted from the site one by one,” he said. “Nobody was hurt on either side.”

It appears as if Sherwood merely took the statements by Palestinian activists at face value without even attempting to corroborate their claims.

Please consider writing a respectful email to the Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, asking for a correction to Sherwood’s false claim.

40 replies »

  1. Please consider writing a respectful email to CIF Watch’s editor, Adam Levick, asking for an end to his practice of harassing foreign journalists in a country, Israel, where freedom of the press is enshrined in the law.

      • Why do you want to ban people who disagree with Mr Adam Levick?

        Israel is a robust, pluralistic democracy.

        Do you really want to turn the country into a dictatorship?

      • Dear Commentary 101, do you live in Afghanistan?

        You need to learn about the Israeli democracy, Israel’s commitment to freedom of expression and pluralism, and Israel’s free elections. You seem to have lost touch with democracy.

        • Israel frowns upon trolling, just as any country would.
          You’re a particularly foul troll, hence, you will be removed, soon enough.
          Keep egging “Nat”; you’re only making matters worse for yourself.

          • Dear Commentary 101, Israel is committed to freedom of expression.

            Reminding people that a majority of Israelis are yearning for peace and remain committed to the two-state solution as defined by the ‘Road Map” in spite of a handful of far right wing activists is not “trolling”, it’s sanity.

          • Israel is committed to stopping trolls like yourself.
            “It’s sanity” — no, hardly. It’s the result of your being paid, probably considerably, for disrupting these pages.

          • Dear Commentary reminding people that there is a clear majority among the Israeli public that supports a Palestinian state existing side by side with a Jewish one despite the admonitions of a handful of far right wing activists is not “trolling”, it’s sanity. Shimon Peres recently declared that the bi-national state you seem to be wishing for would endanger the ‘Jewish, Zionist and democratic nature’ of Israel, because it would turn Jews into a minority.

          • So I take it, you ARE paid?
            How much…?
            Do you get extra for cuting and pasting the same tripe?
            Is it on a per page basis?

  2. The real question is: why are Israeli police forbiding Palestinians to erect tents inside the territory of the state of Palestine?

    It’s as if the US police forbade Canadians to erect tents in the territory of the state of Canada.

    • Area C is still controlled by Israel, is it not?
      When did Palestine became a state and when were the borders finalised?
      At what moment did the Palestinians gave passports to the Jews living in area C?
      Do you believe in land swap?
      If not why not?

          • The exact borders are the so-called 1967 borders, Israel’s internationally recognized borders with Palestine, Itsik.

          • No Nat, you are entirely wrong. These were never – it bears repeating; NEVER – “borders”. It was a ceasefire line. All UN documents from the time are extremely clear about this, and they have always been seen as the basis for borders TO BE AGREED AND NEGOTIATED AS PART OF A PEACE DEAL.

            Middle East history 101 for the hard of understanding.

          • I think you’d find it is based upon the 67 borders rather than it IS the 67 borders.

            2 seperate things.

      • You clearly have zero understanding of Area C.

        Area C comprises 60% of the West Bank. Israel has full control over the Palestinian population of this area, but the express purpose of this arrangement under the Oslo accords was that this area was meant to serve the needs of the occupied population: namely, the Palestinians. It is completely illegal under international law and the agreed principles of the Oslo accords for Israel to build settlements in Area C, and use the area for settlers’ purposes.

        But that is precisely what Israel has done.

        Indeed, the Israeli NGO Peace Now reported that from October 2010, when Israel ended its temporary settlement “building freeze,” to July 2011 construction began on 2,598 new settlement homes, and another 2,149 new homes were completed. Meanwhile, last year Israeli authorities had demolished some 467 Palestinian homes and other buildings in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), displacing 869 people. (

        I wonder what you have to say about that?

        If you want to learn more about this, particularly as it relates to the Bal al-Shams protest, I recommend reading this article by Tel Aviv University law professor Aeyal Gross:

        I look forward to hearing your thoughts. (What I look forward to less is the next barrage of evidence-free rhetoric…)

      • As a British citizen, you are entitled to set up a protest camp anywhere as long as you respect British law and authorities.

        Same with Palestinians: they are entitled to set up a protest camp anywhere as long as they respect Palestinian law and authorities.

        • So, when will the Jewish Palestinian get equal rights?
          Tomorrow? The day after? Next year?
          Will you be fighting for their rights?

          • israeli settlers living in settlements built in the territory of Palestine (West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza) are in breach of international law.

            If you break into your neighbour’s house and squat there, the police will come and remove you. Same with settlers who live in settlements built in contravention of international law. Ask those who used to live in the Gush Katif settlement.

        • Hi NatSoc,
          Palestinians do not actually exist.
          Sorry to disappoint.
          (I believe you will find many ‘Palestinians’ cannot even say ‘Palestinian’, although arguably ‘Balastinians exist).

          • A majority of Israelis are yearning to peace and remain committed to the two-state solution as defined by the “Road Map”.

            There will always be a handful of far right wing extremists who try to spread hatred and intolerance by pretending that the Palestinian people living in the state next door does not exist, the same way as other extremists pretend that the Israeli people does not exist. They are bound to fail in Israel, a pluralistic democracy where hate speech is not tolerated.

        • Nat – we return to the old theme. Whether you (or I) wish it or not, the undisputed FACT of the matter is that the area where these people set up their protest camp IS in Israeli control. You know it, I know it and you can be absolutely certain that the protestors know it.

          Therefore, it is NOT Palestinian law and authorities they have to satisfy, but ISRAELI law and authorities. Your straw man argument does not change this reality.

    • Don’t expect a proper answer Nat. Still, it’s fun to watch them flap about like a bunch of pigeons near a cat!

      • Really Alex? Do you mean – “don’t expect an answer you will agree with Nat.” My answers (I can only comment on those) directly address Nat’s question and provide a serious and irrefutable answer. I have not resorted to invective or ad hominem attack (other than calling him a “troll” which is more a comment on his tendency to type the same phrases over and over again on various threads and to sidetrack any substantive discussion with irrelevant dogmatic statements).

        What part of that is “like a bunch of pigeons near a cat”? Please explain?

  3. Palestinian peace camps with the likes of Nuts and Alex, my ass. More insane people without medical help,