Be Wary of Stories Quoting One “Israeli Official”

How It Works
July 17 2014 11:42 AM

Be Wary of Stories Quoting One “Israeli Official”

This morning a number of outlets, including the BBC, AFP, and Reuters, quoted claims by an unnamed Israeli official who said that the Israeli government and Hamas had agreed to a cease-fire due to take effect tomorrow morning.

The reports were quickly denied by both Hamas and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, though there are apparently ongoing talks facilitated by the Egyptian government in Cairo.

Advertisement

It’s not unusual for conflicting statements to come out of a government during combat and high-pressure negotiations. The quick reversal struck me only because the New York Times led its front page this morning with an article declaring that a ground invasion of Gaza is “increasingly likely,” according to a “senior Israeli military official.” The official “spoke on the condition of anonymity under military protocol” and “said that his assessment was based on ‘the signals I get.’ ”

I have no particular reason to doubt this official’s take on the signals coming from the government, but as I noted yesterday, it’s fairly apparent that there’s disagreement and even acrimony among senior Israeli leaders about what course of action to take. It doesn’t seem that unlikely that some officials might be attempting to sway policy with leaks to the international media.

My guess would be that decisions on whether to accept a cease-fire—if there were even one on the table—or escalate to a full-scale ground campaign haven’t been made yet. A lot can happen in the next few days, and I’d take the comments of any anonymous official with a grain of salt.  

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Books
Sept. 17 2014 10:36 AM MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel Recounts Telling Her Mother About Her Best-Selling Memoir MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel recounts telling her mother about her best-selling memoir.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Behold
Sept. 17 2014 11:06 AM Inside the Exclusive World of Members-Only Clubs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 11:14 AM How Does That Geometry Problem Make You Feel? Computer tutors that can read students’ emotions.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.