Saturday, October 16th | 11 Heshvan 5782

April 9, 2019 5:35 am

Vice News Reporter’s False Claim: ‘270 Children Killed in Gaza’

avatar by Emanuel Miller


Palestinians gather as tear gas is fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking Land Day and the first anniversary of a surge of border riots, at the Israel-Gaza border fence east of Gaza City, March 30, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem.

A Vice News Tonight report aired by HBO on April 3 spread a clearly false claim, smearing the IDF and the State of Israel.

During the report, a local Gaza-based activist is asked why he is protesting. The activist, Louai al-Jammal, says that he wants “to break the siege the Gaza Strip is suffering from.” He added, “We appeal to Allah, what we have done wasn’t in vain. The people are still suffering.”

So far, so standard. A local is giving his view, and while many people may not agree with it, it’s acceptable news footage.

Less acceptable, though, is what follows. At this point, reporter Hind Hassan interjects, and says: “But 250 children died during the protests, right?”

The interviewee, led by his interviewer, agrees with the figure provided by Hassan. One person in the background corrects them, and says “270.”

Neither figure is even remotely accurate.

Even according to Palestinian sources, such as Ma’an News, 52 minors were killed during the violence on the Israel-Gaza border over the last year of protests. The same number is cited by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

It’s not entirely clear where the 250 figure claimed by Vice reporter Hassan comes from — if it has any basis in reality. The figure of 270 killed, however, might be the result of confusion with the total number of people killed — not just minors — in the course of the violent riots and demonstrations.

Whatever the rationale, and even if this was an innocent mistake, the end result is woefully inaccurate reporting and displays highly unprofessional editing and fact-checking, leading to a vastly inflated number being spread on television to an audience of hundreds of thousands of viewers, and many more online.

Finally, it should be clear that the deaths of children and teenagers are a tragedy. Whether 250, 50, or even one child is killed, it’s truly sad, irrespective of which side of a conflict they happen to be on. However, it should also be noted that a central Hamas strategy in the media war is to deliberately risk the injury and deaths of minors, some of whom were and are positively encouraged to take part in violent activities.

Emanuel Miller is an HonestReporting writer. A version of this article first appeared at HonestReporting.

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