Independent

Indy evokes Syrian use of chemical weapons in accusing Israel of “gassing” a baby in Gaza


The Gaza Health Ministry reported that an 8 month old girl was among those killed on Monday during border protests, the victim, the Hamas run ministry claimed, of Israeli tear gas. Leaving aside the question (unexplored by the media thus far) of why a Palestinian adult would bring a baby to violent protest, the claim that Israel was responsible for her death was undermined that same day by a Gaza health official, who said the baby, Layla Ghandour, “had a preexisting medical condition and that he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas”.

The Independent reported on the incident yesterday, and, despite a sensational headline and evocative photo suggesting Israel was responsible for the death, their reporter, Bethan McKernan, did at least cite the comments by Gaza health official undermining Hamas’s claims.

However, an official Independent editorial published around the same time as McKernan’s piece essentially ignored evidence that the girl may have died from a pre-existing condition, and used the incident to impute maximum Israeli guilt. 

Here are the relevant paragraphs of the May 15th editorial, titled “Donald Trump has ruined any chance of a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestine conflict – and the American public knows it”.

When a single act of arrogant diplomacy can, utterly predictably, contribute to dozens of deaths – including, possibly, that of an eight-month-old infant from teargas poisoning – then, yes, there are special places reserved for such political leaders. 

In this context it is worth reminding ourselves of the worldwide wave of revulsion against chemical weapons we have seen in recent weeks. Palestinian victims deserve the same sympathy and protests as anyone else when their children suffer from gassing.

These words clearly have the impact of conflating the Israeli use of non-lethal tear gas with illegal and deadly chemical weapons used by despotic regimes such as Syria.  There’s no other conclusion that can be reached in their evocation of “the worldwide wave of revulsion against chemical weapons we have seen in recent weeks”, an apparent reference to the Syrian sarin and chlorine attack in Douma last month which killed dozens of civilians.  The Indy uses a disputed allegation that Israeli tear gas resulted in the death of a baby in Gaza to tie Jerusalem to massacres involving “gassing” of innocent men, women and children.

There hasn’t been a shortage of inflammatory, misleading and inaccurate media claims during coverage of recent Gaza riots, but the insinuation of Israeli malevolence in this Indy editorial is among the worst we’ve reviewed. 

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8 replies »

  1. Unfortunately for the Indy, the entire story of the baby’s death appears to be suspect according to, among others, a doctor in Gaza.
    https://www.timesofisrael.com/gazan-doctor-israel-cast-doubts-over-claim-infant-died-from-tear-gas/
    The explanation that the baby’s presence at the scene was due to a mix up beggars belief, but, as much of the Western media proves time and time again when it comes to Israel, disbelief is suspended to adhere to a certain narrative and journalistic ethics can be maintained by posting a small, unobtrusive correction that few will notice well after the false story has been spread.
    Cynical me suggests that the family sacrificed their child (assuming she was even alive when the family arrived at the scene) in hopes of being awarded the “dead rioter” monetary reward. But that’s just me.

    • disbelief is suspended to adhere to a certain narrative and journalistic ethics can be maintained by posting a small, unobtrusive correction that few will notice well after the false story has been spread.

      How very true.

  2. All these media types call for Israel to use non-lethal means of crowd control; such as the accepted use of tear gas

    When Israel does use these accepted forms of non-lethal crowd control and a person dies, certain media types then obfuscate, mislead and misrepresent the situation by clever wordplay to insinuate that Israel used ‘malice-aforethought’ to cause that death.

    Dictatorial regimes and their media specialised in word manipulation to create false impressions, and the Independant fits firmly into this genre; the only question is why they do this and for whom.

  3. Breathing in burning tires is great for the lungs.

    I mean, if I’m a mother of a young child, the first thing I’m thinking about is bringing that child to a full-fledged riot where people have been shooting guns and, in return, getting shot at. Because I’m a real serious mom, just like I’m a real serious peace seeker, shooting my guns in the air and burning wheat fields over yonder.

    Follow me, World. I’ll show you the way.