Media Outlets Ignore Allegation That Hamas Paid Gaza Family to Blame Israel for Baby’s Death
UK media outlets have largely attributed the death of eight-month-old Layla al-Ghandour in Gaza on May 15 to tear gas used by the IDF to quell violent border riots.
Though serious questions were raised about the Palestinian girl’s death from the outset, most reporters appeared to accept the family’s claim that the girl accidentally ended up at the site of recent border clashes and died of asphyxiation as a result of inhaling tear gas.
Most reports included heart-breaking photos of the mourning Palestinian mother, like this one at The Telegraph:
The Independent even seemed to evoke, in an official editorial, some sort of moral equivalence between Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians and Israel’s use of tear gas — which they actually referred to as the “gassing” of a baby — in Gaza.
Though most reports didn’t go as far in attempting to demonize Israel, the story of the baby’s death, allegedly at the hands of Israel, dominated British media coverage of the border riots at the time.
However, most British outlets, as with Western media outlets more broadly, have ignored a major new development.
According to the indictment of Layla’s relative, Mahmoud Omar, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar paid the family to tell the media that tear gas caused her death, even though the real culprit was the same blood condition that killed her brother the year before.
According to Haaretz:
Under interrogation in Israel, Omar, who is Layla al-Ghandour’s cousin, said Hamas leader Sinwar paid the baby’s family 8,000 shekels ($2,200) to accuse Israel of the death of the eight-month-old. The claim came despite the fact that members of the family had previously said that she died of a blood disorder, a condition that the baby’s six-month-old brother apparently also died of last year.
When news surfaced of the claim that Layla al-Ghandour had died from inhaling tear gas, Israeli army officials cast doubt on the allegation, saying that the army had evidence that called the family’s claim into question.
According to the indictment against Omar, on the day that Layla al-Ghandour died, Omar’s mother called him while he was participating in a demonstration near the border fence and told him about the child’s death. Omar is said to have been told on returning home that the baby had died of the same blood disease that took the life of her brother.
Yet, with the exception of the Daily Mail, British outlets that covered the story have failed to publish this new information, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times of London, The Evening Standard, Sky News, The Financial Times, and Metro UK.
We’re in contact with these outlets in an attempt to convince them of the need to set the record straight.
Adam Levick covers the British media for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.