"The use of the word “captured” when referring to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is misleading, suggesting that Israel has a strong claim to or ownership of these territories. In fact, international law never uses the term “captured” when referring to land appropriation, and the international community has never diplomatically acquiesced to Israel's ongoing military presence in the West Bank."
August 4, 2023
Rob Roberts, Editor in Chief, The National Post
Aileen Donnelly, News Editor, The National Post
Julia Frankel, Journalist, The Associated Press
John Daniszewski, VP and Editor at Large for Standards
Dear Ms. Frankel, Mr. Roberts, Ms. Donnelly, Mr. Daniszewski,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to express my concern regarding an Associated Press article titled “In latest violence, 18-year-old Palestinian killed during Israeli military raid,” which appeared on the National Post website on August 4.
Primarily, your use of the term “military raid” is accurate, however, further in the article you refer to it as an “arrest raid” and “arrest operation,” which is problematic. “Arrest raid” gives the impression that this was a surgical action in which one or more individuals were arrested. According to reports by WAFA and Al-Jazeera, the Israeli army stormed the camp and fired live ammunition, tear gas, and stun grenades.[i][ii]
As such, I would ask that you update the article, replacing “arrest raid” and “arrest operation” with “military raid.”
Both WAFA and Al-Jazeera also reported that, according to eyewitnesses, 18-year-old Mahmoud Abu Sa’an, while lying on the ground, was shot in the head at point-blank range by an Israeli soldier.
I insist that you make reference to these reports, as this information is essential for understanding the death of Abu Sa’an.
The use of the word “captured” when referring to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is misleading, suggesting that Israel has a strong claim to or ownership of these territories. In fact, international law never uses the term “captured” when referring to land appropriation, and the international community has never diplomatically acquiesced to Israel's ongoing military presence in the West Bank. In fact, the UN Charter specifically outlaws the acquisition of territory by force.[iii] As such, according to numerous legal interpretations, there is no concept of legal “capture” of sovereign territory.
Even by the standard of ordinary language use, the use of the word “capture” is not troublesome. The term "capture" has its origins in the Latin word "captura," which combines "capiō," meaning "capture, seize, take," with "-tūra," denoting concrete results or activities. On the other hand, the term "occupy" shares the same Latin root, "capiō," but it is combined with the Latin prefix "ob," meaning "toward, over, or against." By using "capture" instead of "occupy," the Palestinian people and their claims are effectively erased.
I would ask that you rectify this error and adapt your future reporting to use the correct terminology when referring to the occupied Palestinian territories.
For more information, please see CJPME’s resource for journalists on “Why the West Bank is ‘occupied’ and not ‘captured.’”
Should you wish, you can contact me at 438-380-5410 for more information.
Director of Strategic Operations,
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
[i] “Eighteen-year-old Palestinian shot at point-blank range, killed during confrontations in Nur Shams refugee camp,” WAFA, August 4, 2023, https://english.wafa.ps/Pages/Details/137030.
[ii] “Palestinian teen killed by Israeli army in occupied West Bank,” Al-Jazeera, August 4, 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/8/4/palestinian-teen-killed-by-israeli-army-in-occupied-west-bank.
[iii] “UN Charter,” Article 2.4, The United Nations. 26 Jun. 1945. Web. 27 Jul. 2016. <http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/un-charter-full-text/index.html>.