Jawaher Abu Rahma – the manipulation of a tragedy

Whenever and however someone dies, it is always a tragedy which comes too soon for loved ones left behind. Unfortunately, there are those who appear to be intent upon making political capital from the death of Jawaher Abu Rahma last weekend.

The ‘Popular Struggle Co-ordination Committee’, and its media co-ordinator Joseph Dana, put out a statement on their website denying Monday’s reports in the Israeli media regarding preliminary investigations into Jawaher’s death, including witness statements and medical documentation.

We will, likely, never know what really caused Jawaher Abu Rahma to die because a post-mortem was not carried out. The many conflicting reports both from witnesses and members of the family, as well as medical staff, only add to the confusion.  Some say that she attended the demonstration whilst others insist that she was half a kilometre away. Some suggested that she had underlying medical conditions whilst others claimed not.

The apparent refusal of the family to carry out a post-mortem examination means that the truth regarding both her general health and the actual cause of death will never come to light and it is therefore possible for politically motivated elements to continue to try to make capital from this incident.

What we do know, however, is that contrary to claims made in many media outlets and by political figures from the very top of the Palestinian Authority downwards, Jawaher Abu Rahma was not ‘murdered’ or ‘killed’. At worst, if connected to the demonstration at all, her death was accidental.

Reports issued by the protesters themselves claim that there were 1,000 people at the demonstration that day and yet they do not appear to have a plausible explanation for the fact that others were unharmed by the tear gas. If indeed Ms. Abu Rahma was located half a kilometre away from the clashes, and especially if on a hill, as claimed by some witnesses, issues such as the density of the gas –which is heavier than air – and its subsequent ability to travel such a distance without dissipating (particularly as it was raining that day and water is one of the recommended means of neutralising the effects of tear gas) come into question.

Even if Ms. Abu Rahma was in close proximity to the demonstration and did inhale some of the CS gas used to disperse it, we cannot be sure that this was the cause of death because we have no medical evidence to prove that. The document presented as the medical report from the hospital where she was treated is sketchy to say the least and offers no evidence of blood tests taken, diagnostic imaging carried out or medication administered and gives only one set of partially complete vital signs. It cites ‘metabolic acidosis’ as the reason for the deterioration in her condition, but does not specify which one of the several kinds of metabolic acidosis (which can arise from a variety of medical conditions) or provide any blood work which could cast light upon the question of how that diagnosis was reached. Neither does it state how the condition was treated.

In short – the witness statements are conflicting and confusing, the medical reports incomplete and insufficient for the drawing of evidence-based conclusions, the death certificate highly unprofessional and the post-mortem examination non-existent.

Whilst there is no doubt that the Abu Rahma family has now suffered two tragic deaths, we unfortunately are required at this point to turn our attention to those people intent upon taking those sad events and manipulating them for the purpose of public relations. They include Saeb Erekat and Mahmoud Abbas who have yet again tried to make political capital from this incident by defining it in totally unrealistic terms in an attempt to incite international opinion against Israel.

They also include Joseph Dana, who for quite some time now has been exploiting his position as a ‘journalist’ to spread scare stories about the use of tear gas by the IDF. Up to now, his stories haven’t really taken off except in the weird and wonderful virtual world of fringe blogs, so he must have been quite impressed with himself at managing to feed this latest one to some more mainstream media outlets.

It is easy to understand that the use of tear gas must be a considerable inconvenience to those so-called  ‘non-violent’ activists who week in and week out inflict thousands of shekels-worth of damage to the security fence which protects the Israeli civilian population from suicide bombers and other terrorist attacks, as well as frequently injuring Israeli soldiers in the process.  Joseph Dana and associates would no doubt like very much to be able to hamper the IDF in dispersing their weekly vandalism, either by means of international condemnation or by pressurising the companies who provide the tear gas – as they are already trying to do.  And they obviously don’t mind if they have to manipulate the truth in the process, because otherwise they would have had nothing to hide and there would have been full co-operation into a proper investigation into Jawaher Abu Rahma’s death instead of the half-baked hearsay and dubious reports they have come up with so far.

Protesters remove part of the wall in Bil'in


What Dana obviously failed to learn as a child is that one can cry wolf once too often. The truth always comes out in the end, and after a decade of the Al Dura hoax and the Jenin non-massacre, among others, the world may well yet prove to have smartened up to such tricks.

22 replies »

  1. alas even if the world would fully smarten up “they” will have had days in which to implant Palestinian suffering through all the media.

  2. Haaretz has published an article today proving the girl was indeed killed by the iDF. You should be ashamed for trying to distort the truth, this runs deeply against Jewish values.

  3. Allegre – Ha’aretz has done nothing of the sort. Hearsay and speculation are not proof.

    The only means of proving anything has been efficiently scuppered by those who made sure that this woman was buried before an autopsy could be carried out. Now why would they do that?

    As for ‘Jewish values’, I think that the value of protecting our children from suicide bombers should be of prime importance to everyone – Jewish or not. That’s what the anti-terrorist fence does and those who try every week to tear it down are facilitating terrorism, as I’m sure you know full well.

  4. Allegre you seriously should consider the possibility taking a basic course of reading and understanding simple texts.
    Regarding Jewish values… Are you a rabbi to educate others about them?

  5. “Haaretz has published an article today proving the girl was indeed killed by the iDF. You should be ashamed for trying to distort the truth, this runs deeply against Jewish values.”

    One of the difficulties of discourse with Palestinians and their apologists, is that the words used between us may not correspond in meaning, and that our different ways of thinking contribute to confusion and error rather than understanding. No reasoned approach to the Haaretz article would allow the conclusion that the girl’s death at the hands of the IDF had been proved, and yet, for this poster, it evidently has been. Is this because of differing standards of proof, or failure to understand the logical devices that underpin its determination? Or is it manipulative and exploitative, merely taking advantage of a chance to libel Jews and so promoted with determination and malice before an audience hungry for such scraps? People believe things for different reasons, not always connected with a desire for truth.

  6. Thanks, IsraeliNurse for this considered and dispassionate analysis of the competing accounts of this death at Bi’ilin. If only it were just Joseph Dana and his group feeding distorted and sensationalized demonize-Israel accounts to the media. This account typical of the revealingly named “+972” online blog/magazine shows how they focus on amplifying and ramping up everything that demonizes Israel government and IDF/police responses and discounting and dismissing as “insignificant” anything that identifies the holes in the “Israeli oppressors gas peaceful demonstrator” accounts. If you look at the Twitterings of the named writers, you’ll see the depth of the hatred that lies behind the blander statements in the blog.

  7. i have a very simple observation and question

    all the medical reports that have been released…have been in bad, broken english

    is this normal procedure in the pa?

  8. I looked at part of the 5 minute video again today and as always thought “poor Israelis”. The terrorism party-goers do what they like and the IDF has to be super-perfect in response. The real abuse of human rights is that Israel has to live this way at all.

    Who was in that motorised wheelchair in the video? Also filming, I think.

  9. Excellent piece I.N.

    Saeb Erekat has some form now with regard to lies and smears. Wasn’t it he who was at the forefront of the, ‘thousands massacred in Jenin’ big lie?

    He might make a great subject for anyone wanting to focus on the Pallywood phenomenon.

  10. The mini-Guardian (Ha’aretz) also cannot get its version of the story straight.

    Sometimes the woman was among “stone-throwing youths”, sometimes she was outside her home, McIntyre, the poor sad fellow, has her 500 yards away. Of course, Ha’aretz’s sources are impeccable – two local teenagers!!

    She seemed to have a remarkable ability to be in many places at once.


    An investigation carried out by Haaretz on Monday, with the help of a number of eyewitnesses, has concluded Abu Rahmah did not participate in the main procession of the weekly demonstration against the West Bank separation fence, but instead stood about 100 meters from her home, watching the protest. …She suggested we go watch the procession, which was far from us, and we moved closer to the kids who were throwing stones at the army. The soldiers were quite far away, but they fired large amounts of gas and stinky water.

    And McIntyre, who wasn’t even there puts her half a kilometer from the scene:

    Jawaher, however, was not participating in the demonstration herself; she was sitting at her family’s home 500 metres away when she begun to suffocate.

  11. I just visited the Independent to see the piece by McIntyre. My goodness, what a bunch of idiots commenting on his piece. They make Guardian bloggers seem reasonable, almost.

  12. cityca

    That’s the problem with the Huffington Post and NPR in the US and why it makes it so worthless to post there.

    You get a better class of anti-Semite on the Guardian.

  13. Good one, Israelinurse. I believe that it is part of the Arab/Muslim psyche to make capital out of tragedy if they believe that it will further their cause. Unfortunately it often does, because of ignorance on the part of those who buy into the lies without questioning them or demanding proof (witness the Jenin “Massacre” that wasn’t, and the Al-Durah hoax)

    I should have said “make capital out of tragedy even when they themselves cause it.” I wrote here previously about the deliberate sacrifice of children by Hamas, and the preparation of children for violent death by Hamas and the PA on the West bank (see http://cifwatch.com/2009/12/17/the-ultimate-betrayal/).

  14. Thanks, Israelinurse.

    Jawer Abu Rachma was just more grist to the Islamist propaganda mill and that she had cancer and was female meant that her life was worth even less to these wretches.

    Did her family want her dead because they could not afford her treatment, in much the same way as the family which forced its mentally-ill child at gunpoint towards a West Bank settlement in the hope that they would be shot and they would not have to care for him?

    When these excuses for humanity care so little for their own, can they be trusted ever to keep to any peace they might say they want?

  15. “..Jody McIntyre says she was 500 meters away when she choked on gas:” Trust him, the everlasting font of truth and honesty (not!)

    He should be glad that he wasn’t born into a West Bank family with his problems, given what could have happened to the mentally ill young man Serendipity mentions.

  16. I’ve read so much nonsense from *both* sides about this incident. So many people jumping to conclusions, ignoring evidence that runs against the conclusion and also ignoring the overall lack of evidence.

    Trust you, Israelinurse, to be a voice of reason.

  17. Thanks to Israelinurse.This story from begining looks like palywood.Even pro-arabs tv channel “euronews” don’t say that death was from tear gas.It’s absurd even for them.So they prefer to lie and say that IDF used “chemical gas”.


    I know my english is sucks,but you don’t think that word “girl” not best choice to describe 36 years old woman?

  18. ” you don’t think that word “girl” not best choice to describe 36 years old woman?”

    Nonsense. In context “girl” is the analogue of “guy” not of “boy.”

  19. Vandoren
    is perfectly right in pointing out that “girl” is not appropriate for a 36 year old woman in this context. Gal might be … just, but girl definitely is not, it constitutes an attempt at blurring the picture

    sweet sweet youth suffering a terrible destiny instead of adult woman at best behaving foolishly.

    one must always keep in mind that their are lots around who try to creat another AlDura-Hoax and in that context the use of “girl” to describe her is exactly an attempt at what Vandoren has pointed out.