Case Number: 3263

Council Meeting: MAY 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Headlines and Captions

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of
Headlines and Captions
Tragedies, Offensive Handling of


TVNZ published an article on April 18, 2022, headlined Clashes erupt again new flashpoint Jerusalem holy site.

The story reported Israeli police entered the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City to secure the way for Jewish visitors to the flashpoint holy site, fuelling clashes that left 17 Palestinians wounded according to Palestinian medical workers. Tameem Shaltoni complained that:

  • The word “clashes” used in the headline could indicate a symmetrical confrontation when it was clear that the violence was predomination from the Israeli forces.
  • The headline reference to “Jerusalem holy site” suggested a generic site when it was referring to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is a Muslim site only.
  • Any reference of Old City or East Jerusalem should be prefixed with “occupied Palestinian. They are internationally recognised Palestinian territories, and any Israeli presence is unlawful and very provocative to the Palestinians. Occupying forces have no legitimate sovereignty in Old City, a fact that makes a big difference in the framing of the news.

TVNZ’s complaints committee rejected the complaint saying:

  • The use of the word “clashes” in the headline was accurate. It recognised that violence had taken place but did not ascribe responsibility for starting it.
  • As for the use of “Jerusalem holy site” in the headline, the headline was a necessarily brief summary and fairly conveyed the substance of the article which contained sufficient context for readers to understand where the unrest occurred.
  • There were competing claims to the area and the article provided a balanced and neutral overview of the location and its importance to both Palestinians and Israelis. The article identified the destination for Jews visiting the holy site as the Temple Mount, in the hilltop compound containing the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
  • The article provided good balanced coverage of the clashes at the site with a reasonable degree of background contest.

The Media Council notes the article included statements from both sides and included reference to the Israeli police using batons and Jordan’s condemnation of Israel’s actions. It also includes a brief history referring to annexation of the West Bank, including the Old City, and expanding settlements by Israel.

The Council also found that the headline fairly conveyed a key element of the story, that no factual errors were established and that no case was set out to show the article was unfair or unbalanced.

There were insufficient grounds to proceed.


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