Guardian story on Bab al-Shams falsely suggests Israeli PM violated court order

Yesterday, we reported on a Guardian correction, prompted by an earlier CiF Watch post, to a story written by Harriet Sherwood on Jan. 13 about the recent removal of Palestinian protesters from a tent city named Bab al-Shams – located in an area between the cities of Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim known as E-1.

Less than 24 hours after our post, which challenged claims made in the story that Palestinians were arrested by Israeli police during the evacuation, Guardian editors removed the inaccurate information and noted the correction in the ‘Corrections and clarifications‘ section of their website.

However, there’s one additional substantive mistake in Sherwood’s story which requires correction.

Note the language used in the strapline:

strapline

So, is Sherwood suggesting that the eviction carried out, under the orders of the prime minister, in violation of an Israeli Supreme Court ruling and thus not in accord with the rule of law?

Here are the relevant passages from the report which mention the Supreme Court:

On Saturday evening, Netanyahu demanded the Israeli supreme court overturn an injunction preventing the removal of the protesters, and ordered the area to be declared a closed military zone.

The activists sought legal protection from the supreme court, which granted an injunction against eviction and gave the state of Israel up to six days to respond.

Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti, who was among those detained, said the eviction was “proof that the Israeli government operates an apartheid system. Firstly it decided that supreme court decisions do not apply to Palestinians.

A reasonable person reading the strapline and subsequent text would likely conclude that Netanyahu, furious at a court’s decision explicitly forbidding the removal of Palestinian protesters from the tent city, decided to simply ignore the court order. 

However, such a conclusion would be erroneous.

As CAMERA reported, “the court injunction, issued Friday (Jan. 11) by Justice Neal Hendel, and available in Hebrew on the High Court’s Web site, merely forbade the removal of the tents that the Palestinian activists had set up”, and not the protesters themselves.

Further, per the Supreme Court ruling, even the tents could be legally removed “so long as the state replied to the court within six days that there was a security need”.

Here’s the text from the ruling:

“After studying the petition I hereby impose a temporary injunction according to clause 1 — preventing the evacuation or destruction of tents that were erected by the petitioners on a-Tur lands, east of Kfar al-Azeem, unless an urgent security need arises.

The respondents [the state] will respond to this temporary injunction within six days.”

The bottom line is that, contrary to the clear suggestion in Harriet Sherwood’s report that Palestinians were removed from the protest site illegally (a narrative also parroted by Ali Abunimah at Electronic Intifada), the court order pertained to the tents, not the people.  

Any way you parse it, the Guardian clearly needs to make another correction to the story.