CBS Incorrectly Claims Hamas Was Elected to Power in Gaza

One of the recurring myths sometimes repeated about the Gaza Strip's relationship with Hamas is that the terrorist group gained control through the electoral process. On both the Monday and Tuesday editions of the CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley devoted a brief segment to providing background information on the Gaza Strip. And, on both nights, he erroneously suggested that Hamas came to power through election. (Video below)

But, in reality, Hamas came to control the Gaza Strip by staging a violent coup in June 2007 overthrowing the rival Fatah party's executive authority. After Hamas narrowly won the popular vote in the Janaury 2006 parliamentary elections, Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah party was still the legitimate president for both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. After Hamas overthrew Fatah's executive authority in the Gaza Strip, Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade.

After Hamas took control of the Palestinian parliament in January 2006, Israel had joined with the Quartet entities -- the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia -- in imposing economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority, affecting both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. But, after the Hamas coup in Gaza in 2007, sanctions affecting the West Bank were lifted to assist Fatah, while the blockade was imposed on the Gaza Strip to weaken Hamas.

Returning to Monday's CBS Evening News, Pelley began the segment, which displayed a map of Israel and the Gaza Strip as he spoke:

We wanted to remind you tonight of what Gaza is and how it came to be. The Gaza Strip was laid out in 1949 after the war that created Israel. It's home to Palestinians displaced in that war and to the generations that followed. Only 25 miles long, roughly 10 miles wide, Gaza's population is 1.7 million, most of them living in poverty.

Without explaining that Israel launched a preemptive strike in the 1967 Six Day War because Egypt, Jordan and Syria had amassed troops next to Israel's border and were likely about to invade, Pelley continued:

Israel captured Gaza in 1967 and occupied it until 2005.

Then came his suggestion that Hamas came to power through the democratic process as he concluded:

One year later, the Hamas political party won the election there. The U.S. says the Hamas military wing is a terrorist organization.

The year "2006" displayed on screen, which is the year Hamas won parliamentary elections, but not the year when they staged the coup against President Abbas, which was 2007.

Notably, on Tuesday's show, during a similarly worded segment, the year "2006" on screen from the previous night was changed to "2007" as the year when Hamas supposedly was elected to power. The June 2007 coup by Hamas was still not mentioned.

Also of note, during a CBS Evening News report in July 2011, correspondent Barry Peterson had similarly claimed incorrectly that Hamas was elected to power in the Gaza Strip. Peterson:

The Israelis blockaded Gaza in 2007 after the terrorist group Hamas won elections, and Israel maintains tight control of its checkpoints as Egypt does from its side.

Brad Wilmouth
Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters