The father of one of the three Israeli teens abducted and murdered by Hamas terrorists said he is saddened and puzzled by erroneous reports on the incident that claim Hamas did not play a role in the brutal killings.
Ofir Shaer, the father of 16-year-old Gilad Shaer, who was abducted in June with two other teens, questioned the motives of outlets such as BuzzFeed, which has come under scrutiny in recent weeks for publishing reports claiming that Hamas was not involved in the incident, despite mounting evidence presented by Israeli authorities indicating otherwise.
Following the first BuzzFeed report that claimed Israeli political leaders had fabricated Hamas’s involvement in the abductions in order to create a pretext for the current Gaza war, Israel’s Shin Bet security service disclosed that one of the Palestinian suspects had been in Israeli custody for weeks and had admitted to Hamas’ involvement in the terror plot.
BuzzFeed’s reporting on the crime helped fuel accusations by Israel’s critics that the Gaza war had been started by Israel, not Hamas.
Asked by the Washington Free Beacon to comment on the reports by Buzzfeed’s Sheera Frenkel, Shaer dubbed the articles "wishful thinking" and criticized the outlet for not printing "responsible things."
"It's very strange because everyone knew very quickly when this began that Hamas was involved and their footprint on this murder is something that there was no doubt of," Shaer told the Free Beacon during an interview in Jerusalem.
"It’s wishful thinking" to claim that Hamas played no role in the abduction and murder of the children, Shaer said. "The facts are saying the other thing."
BuzzFeed’s Frenkel first claimed in July that the abductors were not affiliated with Hamas. She based these claims on one anonymous "Israeli intelligence officer" who she claimed was "intimately involved in the case."
"That announcement was premature," Frenkel quoted the officer as saying. "If there was an order, from any of the senior Hamas leadership in Gaza or abroad, this would be an easier case to investigate. We would have that intelligence data. But there is no data, so we have come to conclude that these men were acting on their own."
However, multiple reports from that time, as well as on-the-record statements from senior Israeli officials, stated that Hamas was responsible for the crime.
Major news outlets and critics of the Israeli government quickly picked up Frenkel’s report and cited it as evidence that Israeli leaders had falsely implicated Hamas in the kidnappings.
After further documentation emerged last week that Hamas operatives in Gaza had ordered the kidnapping and funded it, Frenkel went back to her anonymous sources and doubled down on the initial report.
"Israeli intelligence officers who spoke to BuzzFeed continue to cast doubt on the involvement of Hamas," she wrote in an August 6 dispatch, published after Israel released evidence confirming Hamas’s involvement.
Frenkel further alleged that the Palestinian suspects in custody for the crime had been tortured by Israel.
Shaer, who was still mourning the loss of his son, dismissed these claims as fiction.
"You should try to be saying responsible things," he said. "I don't know what people thought when they were trying to say things that are not as the facts say."
"I think it was very clear, even in all the hysteria," that Hamas carried out the murder, he said. "Everyone knows there is a direct connection between what happened with the abduction of our children."
"Those murderers belonged to Hamas. It's something with no doubt," he said.
Frenkel’s reports received heavy criticism in the media, particularly from the Jewish publication Tablet, which ran an expose last week headlined, "BuzzFeed Gets a Big Story Wrong."
"Frenkel, it’s now clear, got the story flat-out wrong: The Israelis had, in fact, reached the exact opposite conclusion three weeks ago, after having quietly taken one of the three main suspects in the case into custody," wrote Tablet’s Liel Leibovitz.
Tablet went on to criticize Frenkel’s reliance on anonymous sources—calling them "the lowest rung on the sourcing ladder for this kind of story"—and explained just how her story was incorrect.
"By showing that a major suspect in the case was in custody three weeks ago, the documents also strongly suggest that Frenkel’s information didn’t come from a whistle-blower," Leibovitz wrote. "Rather, it suggests that her information was either badly out of date or the result of a deliberate attempt to mislead her."
Frenkel has come under scrutiny in the past for relying on anonymous sources that turned out to be incorrect.
In 2011, Frenkel cited "Israeli intelligence officials" in a report focusing on a purported explosion at an Iranian nuclear site in Isfahan. However, there is no nuclear site in that location.