Daily Mail geography fail: UK paper claimed Israel flooded 'Gaza's major West Bank cities'

Lessons learned by the Daily Mail: 1. There are no dams in southern Israel with which to intentionally flood Gaza; 2. Nablus and Jenin are not "two of Gaza's major West Bank cities."

February 24, 2015 17:05
2 minute read.
Daily Mail

Screenshot of the original 'Daily Mail' article. (photo credit: screenshot)


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British paper The Daily Mail published a story on Monday that originally accused Israel of intentionally opening dams in southern Israel in order to flood Gaza. The only problem is, as writer and Lydia Willgress has learned the hard way, there are no dams in southern Israel.

Honest Reporting, an NGO that according to its website "monitors the news for bias, inaccuracy, or other breach of journalistic standards in coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict," took screen shots of the article before amendments were made.

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However, after amending the article's headline to remove the charge that Israel was responsible for the flooding, the pretense for the charge — official Palestinian accusations of the charge — remained.

"Brigadier General Said Al-Saudi, chief of the civil defense agency in Gaza, said that the dams were opened without warning."

"Israel opened water dams, without warning, last night, causing serious damage to Gazan villages near the border,’ he told Al Jazeera.

This quote from the chief of the civil defense agency in Gaza remained in the article even after the article's headline was altered.

The original Al Jazeera article now has a redacted quote, removing the baseless intentional flooding accusation, which still appears in full in an article written by Vice News, entitled "Israel Denies Flooding of Gaza Despite Palestinian Accusations."


Libby Wiess, the Head of IDF Spokesperson's North American Media Desk, was quick to fire back at Vice News.
The intentional flooding accusation was also published and propagated in a video by the AFP news agency, which included interviews from Gazans blaming Israel for the flooding.

Even more embarrassing than the baseless dam-opening allegation propagated by these news outlets, the Daily Mail's article attempted to connect the flooding in Gaza with the Israel Electric Company's decision to cut power to the West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin for 45 minutes on Monday due to a 1.9 billion shekel debt, reported Monday by The Jerusalem Post

"The flooding was today compounded after an Israeli power company cut electricity to two of Gaza's major West Bank cities," said the Daily Mail's article, even after a few revisions of the article.

As Gaza and the West Bank are unconnected, separate geographical entities, obviously: (1) power cuts in the West Bank do not effect Gaza flooding, and (2) the writer of the article tried to redraw the map of the Middle East to try to connect the baseless claim of intentional flooding in Gaza to a totally separate phenomenon happening in the West Bank.

Even after striking out with this major geographical failure, The Daily Mail's article continued to attempt to make a connection, saying "The decision [to cut power to the West Bank cities] came hours after the flood waters had settled."  

Furthermore, the article, despite "happily" clarifying at the bottom that southern Israel has no dams, continued to run the accusation that Israel is responsible for the flooding.

The current flooding in Gaza is undoubtedly a tragedy, and The Daily Mail is right to help publicize this. However, that tragedy should not be "compounded" by the tragedy of shabby journalism.

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