Saturday, January 28th | 6 Shevat 5783

May 17, 2018 7:46 am

UK Paper Accuses Israel of ‘Gassing’ a Baby in Gaza, Drawing Syria Comparisons

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avatar by Adam Levick


Palestinian rioters in Gaza prepare to set a kite on fire to be flown across the border into Israel, May 11, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

The Gaza Health Ministry reported that an eight-month-old girl was among those killed on Monday during border protests — the victim, the Hamas-run ministry claimed, of Israeli tear gas.

Leaving aside the question (unexplored by the media thus far) of why a Palestinian adult would bring a baby to a violent protest, the claim that Israel was responsible for her death was undermined that same day by a Gaza health official, who said that the baby, Layla Ghandour, “had a preexisting medical condition and that he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas.”

The Independent reported on the incident yesterday and despite a sensational headline and evocative photo suggesting that Israel was responsible for the death, their reporter Bethan McKernan did at least cite the comments by a Gaza health official undermining Hamas’ claims.

However, an official Independent editorial published around the same time as McKernan’s piece essentially ignored evidence that the girl may have died from a pre-existing condition and used the incident to assert maximum Israeli guilt.

Here are the relevant paragraphs of the May 15 editorial, titled “Donald Trump has ruined any chance of a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestine conflict — and the American public knows it”:

When a single act of arrogant diplomacy can, utterly predictably, contribute to dozens of deaths – including, possibly, that of an eight-month-old infant from tear gas poisoning – then, yes, there are special places reserved for such political leaders.

In this context it is worth reminding ourselves of the worldwide wave of revulsion against chemical weapons we have seen in recent weeks. Palestinian victims deserve the same sympathy and protests as anyone else when their children suffer from gassing.

These words clearly have the impact of conflating the Israeli use of non-lethal tear gas with illegal and deadly chemical weapons used by despotic regimes, such as Syria. There’s no other conclusion that can be reached in their evocation of “the worldwide wave of revulsion against chemical weapons we have seen in recent weeks” — an apparent reference to the Syrian sarin and chlorine attack in Douma last month, which killed dozens of civilians.

The Independent uses a disputed allegation that Israeli tear gas resulted in the death of a baby in Gaza to tie Jerusalem to massacres involving “gassing” of innocent men, women, and children.

There hasn’t been a shortage of inflammatory, misleading, and inaccurate media claims during coverage of recent Gaza riots, but the insinuation of Israeli malevolence in this editorial is among the worst we’ve reviewed.

Adam Levick covers the British media for CAMERA, the 65,000-member Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

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