International Herald Tribune Falls for Unverified AFP Image of ‘Injured Palestinian’
In the past, Reuters was the wire service most associated with “fauxtography” of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but it seems that Agence France-Presse may also be getting in the act. On Jan. 25, the AFP photo service carried an image by photographer Hazem Bader in which a Palestinian construction worker is said to be screaming in pain after he was run over by a trailer driven by an Israeli soldier. The photo appeared on page 4 of the International Herald Tribune (at least in the Israeli edition) on Thursday (Jan. 26). The image and captions (both AFP and IHT follow).
The original AFP caption reads:
An injured Palestinian construction worker screams in pain after an Israeli army driver drove a trailer hooked to a tractor over his legs, as he tried to block him when Israeli forces stopped workers on January 25, 2012 from building a house in al-Dirat village, south of Yatta in the southern Bank town Hebron region. The Israeli forces were seizing the equipment and trailer from the construction workers as the site falls in the occupied zone C in which Israel prevents Palestinians from building on their land.
Similarly, the IHT caption states:
A Palestinian construction worker screamed in pain Wednesday after he tried to block an Israeli Army driver who drove a trailer over his legs near Hebron. Israeli forces were seizing the trailer from construction workers because the site was in a zone where Israel prohibits Palestinians from building on their land.
Yet, after checking with both Palestinian and Israeli sources, it seems that the man was not at all injured, and there is no evidence that he was run over. On the Palestinian side, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), which provides comprehensive weekly reports about all injuries, fatalities, incursions, and other incidents in both the West Bank and Gaza, makes no mention of this alleged injury in its report for Jan. 19- 25. In addition, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency did not cover the alleged injury, even though it does report on Israeli army activity that day nearby in Tel Rumeida. And Ma’an also reported a hit and run incident, in which a Palestinian teen was hit by an Israeli driver at a checkpoint this morning. Presumably, then had this worker actually been run over and injured on Wednesday, Ma’an would have carried the story. Nor does it appear that any English-language wire service or other media outlet covered the alleged injury.
On the Israeli side, Capt. Barak Raz, spokesman for the Judea and Samaria division who had spoken to soldiers at the scene, told the Committee for Accuracy of Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) the following: IDF soldiers were on site to provide security for the Civil Administration, which was preventing Palestinian construction in an area not permitted for building. One Palestinian worker was lying on the ground next to the trailer when he started to scream that he had been run over. Nobody saw him get run over. First he complained that his left leg was injured. An army medic checked him and saw nothing. The medic did, nevertheless, wrap him in a bandage since the worker was carrying on that he had been run over. The man then subsequently claimed that it was his right leg which was injured. According to Raz, the Palestinian Red Crescent, which was also on the scene, checked him, and likewise found absolutely nothing wrong with him.
In short, at worst, this incident is staged, as Raz contends, and the man pretended to be run over and injured, while neither happened. At best, there is zero independent confirmation that he was injured. If neither AFP nor IHT can substantiate the claim, it ought to be immediately retracted.