Reuters is coming under fire for cropping photographs to remove pictures of "peace activists" carrying knives and photos of wounded, bloodied Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara as it attempted to violate Israel's blockade of Gaza. The Israel Defense Force five other vessels in the flotilla without incident on May 31. But on the Mavi Marmara, IDF commandos were disarmed, fired on and attacked with knives, metal bars and chairs. One soldier was thrown off a deck to a lower one 30 feet below. Nine activists were killed in clashes with Israeli troops on the vessel.
The media watchdog CAMERA offers this picture of one "cutting-edge humanitarian activist" who greeted Israelis on the Mavi Marmara.
Little Green Footballs was the first to report that Reuters cropped pictures to remove a dagger from the hands of activists attempting to take Israeli soldiers hostage. The news agency also removed the image of a pool of blood near a battered Israeli commando.
Reuters said it had no intention to deceive. It told Ha'aretz that it followed "normal editorial practice" and said the dagger had been "inadvertently cropped from the images."
During the 2006 Lebanon war, Reuters apologized for altering photographs of an Israeli raid against Hizballah targets in Beirut.
The Lede, a New York Times blog, wrote that the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet published a photographic slide show with images of three bloodied Israeli commandos after they were disarmed and dragged inside the Mavi Marmara. The photographs were supplied to Hurriyet by the Turkish organization IHH, the radical group behind the flotilla.
The Lede (citing Israeli bloggers) offered one possible explanation of why the Israelis fought so tenaciously to rescue the captured commandos: Since Hamas kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006, there is a standing order in Israel that IDF soldiers cannot be captured alive, and that the military must be prepared to use deadly force to prevent their capture.
The Lede identified the person who took the photographs supplied to Reuters as Turkish journalist Adem Ozkose. But the NYT blog failed to mention that Ozkose is hardly a neutral observer. Read his story on the flotilla appearing on IHH's website here.