Israeli Army, Shin Bet, Police Take Media to Task Over Tel Aviv Terror Attack Coverage

'Some of the media channels turned the hunt for the terrorist very much into an uncensored reality show with no self-criticism,' letter from the security forces says

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Security forces near the scene of the attack in Tel Aviv, Thursday night.
Security forces near the scene of the attack in Tel Aviv, Thursday night.Credit: Hadas Parush
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

An unusual letter from the Israeli army, the police and the Shin Bet security service harshly criticized the Israeli media's coverage of the terror attack in Tel Aviv on Thursday night.

"The fact that the scene of the attack was not immediately sealed, to our disappointment, led to media behavior that brought to mind scenes from a television program to which there is no connection to media coverage of a security situation," the letter, addressed to "all media outlets in Israel," said.

"Some of the media channels turned the hunt for the terrorist very much into an uncensored reality show with no self-criticism," it continued.

According to the letter, the coverage of the manhunt showed the faces of special forces soldiers, as well as their methods, equipment and weaponry. The three organizations added, "Despite our repeated requests to journalists and camera teams, we were exposed to footage that bears a tangible risk to security forces, and certainly to media figures as well.

"It is unthinkable that news teams would join in the operations of special forces and classified soldiers without authorization, as they risk the operational activity as well as the forces themselves," the letter read.

"In addition, we also witnessed an alarming rise in spreading unfounded information, some of which was even blatantly false – information that can sow panic among the public and harm the resilience of the State of Israel," the letter continued.

"We understand well the role and importance of the media in a democratic country, and we see ourselves as full partners in assisting it and reporting trustworthy information in real time, as part of the necessity and right of the public to know," the letter said.

Despite this, "We believe that there is a necessity that the media outlets learn lessons about certain safeguards that should be taken when covering the scene of a security incident in real time."

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