General UK Media

Why has the brutal beating of two Palestinian teens been ignored by the UK media?


A short video, filmed during clashes on Friday in Bethlehem, which shows PA security forces brutally beating Mahmoud Hamamra, 16, and his brother Ahmad Hamamra, 18, has gone viral within the Palestinian social media.

Here’s the video:

According to reports, after the beating seen in the clip, the two teens were then taken to a another location where they were again assaulted. Finally, they were taken to a police station where they were allegedly further brutalized.  The brothers were reportedly hit with batons and cords, and punched and kicked by officers.  PA police also reportedly used tasers all over their bodies.  The older teen’s arm was broken as a result of the beating.

Thus far, the UK media has ignored the story.

Just imagine how much coverage the story would have received if, for example, the two Palestinian youths were beaten by Israeli forces.

Indeed, a video of an IDF soldier detaining a young Palestinian rock thrower in Nabi Saleh went viral last month despite the fact that the soldier exercised remarkable restraint – while being beaten by the boy’s family and friends – and the fact that the arrest was eventually called off.  Though we noted that UK media reports were more subdued than on previous occasions, the story was nonetheless still highlighted by the Guardian, Daily Mail and (initially) The Telegraph.

Back in April, a viral video of an Ethiopian-Israeli beaten by police was covered by UK media outlets – a story which elicited multiple follow-up pieces on subsequent protests and the broader issue of alleged Israeli racism against the Ethiopian community.

You likely also recall that, in the summer 0f 2014, a video of a 15-year-old American boy of Palestinian descent, Tariq Abu Khdeir, beaten before being arrested by Israeli forces during protests in Jerusalem, went viral and was widely reported in the UK media.

Of course, one simple factor which may explain why this latest brutal beating of of two Palestinian youths by PA forces has not thus far been covered by major UK news outlets is its failure to fit into the desired narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  As most familiar with the UK media’s coverage of the region could attest to, what matters in the conflict – for editors, reporters and op-ed writers – is solely Israeli behavior. Evidence of racism, incitement, brutality or corruption by Palestinians, their leaders and institutions is typically not considered newsworthy.

The impact of such consistently skewed reporting – which, in effect, denies moral agency to one of the two actors in a decades long conflict – is that UK news consumers are denied the context necessary to filter and accurately process the constant stream of headlines, text and imagery.

As we’ve argued repeatedly, noting what the UK media doesn’t report is often just as important and illuminating – in fully understanding their institutionally biased coverage – as analyzing what they do report.

5 replies »

  1. I have to say that I am utterly amazed that The Guardian has not reported this violation of human rights by Palestinian police on their fellow countrymen. For a newspaper that stands up for the rights of the individual so fearlessly to have overlooked this incident is indeed bewildering. I am quite flabbergasted.

    However I feel we must give the benefit of the doubt. It could simply be that this item has been accidentally overlooked on account of so many Guardian reporters being drawn to Bournemouth for the Liberal Democrat annual conference – such a vitally important event. Now that UK Media Watch has alerted the fourth estate about this shocking footage in Bethlehem I cannot wait to read all about it tomorrow morning in the Guardian and the Independent, to name but two organs of support for fairness and humanity.

    • “However I feel we must give the benefit of the doubt.”

      Why? From past experience this is exactly what we would expect – offences by Palestinians being ignored.