Sunday, February 5th | 14 Shevat 5783

August 23, 2021 11:51 am

AFP Implies Gaza Youth Injured by Israeli Missile, Even Though Seemingly Caused by Terrorist Rocket

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avatar by Charles Bybelezer


Israeli firefighters extinguish a car which caught on fire after a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel May 11, 2021. REUTERS/Nir Elias TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

“Eight-year-old Mohammed Shaban dreamed of returning to the classroom in Gaza for the start of the school year,” an article by Agence France-Presse (AFP) republished by numerous news outlets explains at its outset. “But after an exploded missile blinded him in May, he is staying home,” according to the piece.

Every life is precious. Every injury to a child is especially tragic. And every reader at this point is likely thinking that Shaban sustained his wounds because from May 10-21 “the Israeli army pummeled the Gaza Strip,” in the AFP’s approximation.

The article continues:

Mohammed said he was walking to a market to buy clothes during the conflict when a missile exploded. As a result of the blast, his father Hani said, “Mohammed was injured in the eyes, which led to the loss of his eyes, and Mohammed became completely blind.”

A truly terrible incident that deserves recounting. Perhaps more so, if the AFP had actually done a modicum of due diligence in order to provide conclusive facts about how the injury was sustained.

While the article notes that “the Shabans say Mohammed was injured by a missile fired by the Israelis,” immediately thereafter it contains the modifier, “although AFP could not independently verify it.”

Enter Human Rights Watch (HRW) — admittedly, no great promoter of Israeli military actions (see here and here) — whose August 12 report, titled “Palestinian Rockets in May Killed Civilians in Israel, Gaza,” began thus:

Palestinian armed groups’ rocket and mortar attacks during the May 2021 fighting in the Gaza Strip, which killed and injured civilians in Israel and Gaza, violated the laws of war and amount to war crimes.”

Among those injured? Apparently, Mohammed Shaban:

A local shop owner said:

People were gathering [on the street] watching the rockets in the sky. I saw a rocket spinning in the air and then it came down and exploded, about 10 meters from where I was standing. There was smoke. I saw the dead and injured. I couldn’t stand what I saw. I broke down.… I saw a child, Mohammed Shaban, whose eyes were bleeding….” [emphasis added]

In fact, halfway through its profile, the AFP even cites HRW as saying that, “Palestinians fired indiscriminately at Israeli cities, with rockets that fell short killing at least seven Palestinians in Gaza and wounding others.”

Based on this quote, one of the AFP editors or authors was undoubtedly aware that HRW had compiled reports on casualties in Gaza, but nonetheless failed to include the findings about the cause of Shaban’s injury.

Instead, the AFP concludes by pulling at the collective audience’s heartstrings — even as it omits what is seemingly the most critical information about Shaban’s story; namely, that he was likely a victim of Gaza-based terrorists:

“In the future, I hope he can go to a special school for the disabled,” said Somaya Shaban, Mohammed’s mother.

She took her son in her arms and burst into tears.

‘I wish to go to school and see the children, and wish see my sisters, and I wish to see my mother and father, and to play with the children,’ Mohammed said.

This appears, then, to be yet another example of a media outlet’s failure to properly investigate events during the recent Israel-Hamas conflict — that is, if doing so would necessitate shining the spotlight for the humanitarian toll in Gaza squarely on the shoulders of the enclave’s terrorist rulers who, perhaps not coincidentally, also control with an iron fist news narratives emanating from the Palestinian territory.

Unsurprisingly, these stories often convey, at best, a semblance of the truth and, at worst, amount to little more than anti-Israel propaganda.

Originally from Montreal, Canada, Charles Bybelezer moved to Israel in 2012 and is currently the managing editor at HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias. A version of this article first appeared at HonestReporting.

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