Guardian misleads in tale of ‘heroic’ Palestinian sperm smuggling

The latest story by Harriet Sherwood about Palestinian prisoners reportedly smuggling sperm out of Israeli jails to impregnate women in Gaza continues the Guardian method of significantly downplaying the terror record of Palestinian prisoners.

First, we should note that this is actually the second such report by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent on the pressing issue of ‘smuggled sperm’ and Palestinian prisoners. On Feb. 8 she published the following:

oneYesterday, Oct. 13, the day, incidentally, in which other papers were reporting the discovery by the IDF of a major terror tunnel between Gaza and Israel, Sherwood detailed the latest ‘victory’ for the Palestinians’ burgeoning underground terrorist sperm trade, reporting the following:


Sherwood begins her story, thus:

Hana al-Za’anin and her husband, Tamer, have not set eyes on each other, let alone had physical contact, for almost seven years. But the young Palestinian couple are delighted to be expecting their first child in January.

The baby – a boy already named Hassan – is not a modern-day miracle but the result of medical science combined with old-fashioned subterfuge. He was conceived after Tamer’s sperm was smuggled out of an Israeli prison, across a stringent military checkpoint into Gaza, and impregnated into an egg harvested from Hana at a fertility clinic in Gaza City. The resulting embryo was transplanted into her uterus.

Hassan will be the first “prison baby” born in Gaza, but he will join at least three infants delivered in the West Bank as a result of a rapidly growing sperm-smuggling phenomenon,

Sherwood does briefly quote an Israeli prison official expressing doubt that sperm had in fact been smuggled out of their jail, but most of the story is devoted to celebrating the Palestinian ingenuity .  

Later in the report, we learn a bit more about al-Zanin and his ‘heroic’ example of Palestinian ‘resistance’ in the face of Israeli conjugal oppression:

Za’anin, who had been denied permission by Israel to visit her husband in prison since his conviction for membership of the militant organisation Islamic Jihad just a few months after their marriage, consulted [the fertility doctor] by phone. “He was surprised that I asked. He had also heard about this, and had wanted to ask me, but thought people might wonder about me being pregnant with my husband in jail. So when I asked, he agreed right away,” she said at the family’s home in Beit Hanoun.

It not only took Sherwood eight paragraphs before briefly noting (in roughly ten words out of an 875 word story) that Tamer al-Za’anin is a convicted terrorist, but she characteristically downplayed his terrorist record.

According to Israeli court records (Hebrew), al-Za’anin not only belonged to a terror organization, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but volunteered for their military wing (Al-Quds Brigades), a group which has carried out numerous attacks against Israelis, including deadly suicide bombings.  Further, court records show that he was imprisoned after pleading guilty to four counts of being an accessory to attempted murder, a plea bargain in which he admitted his active participation within terror cells that on one occasion laid an explosive (IED) and fired two missiles at an IDF vehicle, and on three other occasions fired rockets at civilians in Sderot.

In other words, the protagonist in Sherwood’s celebratory tale allegedly brought life into the world only after a career in terror focused on trying desperately to end as many Israeli lives as possible.

16 replies »

  1. Shimon, Victor, alexa: Exactly what I was thinking.

    Not to mention–you can’t just stuff some sperm into a plastic bag and then deliver it several hours later to the doctor and expect it to be viable.

    The chances of this being true are somewhere between slim and none.

  2. I’m just wondering if the Guardian would ever refer to murderers in British prisons as “husbands being held by Britain.”

    • Funny how healthy woman jump the queue of becoming amother via artifical means while others who really need IVF or other form of help from fertility clinics have to wait.
      From the article and speaking of the Doctor: “So when I asked, he agreed right away,” she said at the family’s home in Beit Hanoun.”

      Any respected fertility doctor will have to check is calender first, unless he’s trying to push an agenda and not really help.

  3. she characteristically downplayed his terrorist record

    Yes. Saying simply that the man was convicted for “membership of [a] militant organisation” makes it sound like he’s an animal rights activist.

    The rest of the article is a love-in.

  4. It is not the truth of the sperm story or the nature of the prisoner’s crimes that is of most interest here but the inhuman denial of visiting rights:

    “Za’anin, who had been denied permission by Israel to visit her husband in prison”.

    All civilised prison systems allow spousal visits. Their refusal in this case is but one small example of the cruelty routinely shown by Israeli authorities towards their many thousands of Palestinian prisoners. In December 2012 it was estimated that 800,000 Palestinians had been imprisoned at some time since 1967. Many of them have been the victims of systematic torture.

    • “one small example of the cruelty routinely shown by Israeli authorities towards their many thousands of Palestinian prisoners” all of whom are completely blameless, no doubt, and offer no security threat to Israel or its civilians at all, I’m sure.

      Israel is so cruel to the prisoners it holds that it is the only country rated as “Free” by the Freedom House. Israel isn’t perfect, and constructive criticism of some of its actions and policies are of course jusified, but characterising them as “inhuman” or “cruel” is simply OTT.