In a column published during Israel’s recent “Operation Pillar of Defense” in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, correspondent Anshel Pfeffer wrote about four-year-old Gazan Mahmoud Sadallah, whom Pfeffer claimed was killed in an Israeli strike in Gaza.
A picture of Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, during his recent visit to Gaza, posing with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, together holding the body of the dead boy, was posted by many media outlets around the world.
Several media outlets, including Reuters and AP initially also claimed that the child was killed as a result of an Israeli strike. However upon presentation of evidence by the Elder of Ziyon blog among others, it was demonstrated that the child was killed as a result of a Palestinian rocket attack which had failed to reach it mark in Israel, and not by an Israeli strike.
The information was further confirmed by experts from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, who visited the site of the incident. After the clarification, most media outlets corrected the misinformation and announced that the child was apparently killed by a rocket fired by one of the terrorist organizations in Gaza. However, Anshel Pfeffer’s column which repeated the fabrication that the child was killed as a result of an Israeli strike was written several days after the public correction of the disinformation.
Presspectiva, an Israeli media watchdog, pointed out the mistake to Haaretz, which in turn published a correction to the article claiming that the circumstances of the child’s death are disputed, and that there is substantial evidence that the boy was killed as a result of a stray rocket fired by a terror organization in Gaza.
The correction of the piece was made after it had already been widely publicized in English and circulated to readers worldwide, all the while ignoring the public information about the false accusation against Israel of culpability for Sadallah’s death that was available for at least five days prior to the publication of Pfeffer’s original column.
During “Operation Pillar of Defense,” an abundance of evidence was published about distorted and falsified pictures used by the media. Many gruesome images presented in the media as victims of Israeli strikes turned out in most cases to be old archival photos taken from other combat zones, such as Syria or Iraq.