April 18, 2021

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Once again, world media assumes baby probably killed by Hamas rocket was killed by Israel (update)


We’ve seen this happen so many times before.

On Saturday evening, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry reported that a 14-month-old Palestinian child, Saba Mahmoud Hamdan Abu Arar, had been killed and her mother, Falastin Saleh Abu Arar, when an Israeli airstrikes hit their house in Gaza City. Several hours later, the ministry said that Falastin had succumbed to her wounds.

On Twitter, the Israel Defense Forces’ Arabic-language spokesman said the mother and child did not appear to have been killed in an Israeli attack.

Adraee indicated that the deaths may have been caused by a failed rocket attack against Israel, noting that many of the projectiles fired at Israel were launched from within populated areas.

“There are more and more indications reaching us from the Gaza Strip that put serious doubt on the truth of the statement from Hamas’s healthy ministry about the death of the baby Saba Mahmoud Hamdan Abu Arar and her mother Falastin Saleh Abu Arar,” Maj. Avichay Adraee wrote in a tweet.

“According to these indications, the death was caused by terrorist activities by Palestinian militants and not by an Israeli strike,” he said.

But AFP headlines the story, “250 rockets fired from Gaza, Israeli response kills four including baby.”

The Independent wrote “A pregnant mother and her 14-month-old baby girl have been killed by an Israeli airstrike, as cross-border violence continues near Gaza.”

ITV: “Palestinian baby and pregnant mother killed in Gaza airstrikes.”

CNN: “250 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel; 1-year-old child among those killed in retaliatory airstrikes.”

Reporters have made this mistake before. I listed a bunch of them a few years ago in an open letter to journalists on not making assumptions during these flareups in Gaza:

Mistake #1: Assuming that all Gaza casualties are the result of Israeli airstrikes

Traditionally, the number of Gaza rockets that fall short and never reach Israel, or that explode as they are fired, is over 35% -and sometimes as high as 80%!.

Between June 12-25 (2014), terrorists fired 41 rockets at Israel, of which 24 exploded in Gaza, killing one child and injuring six more children. That is a 58% failure rate.

At least three Gaza civilians have been killed this year by terrorist rockets.

Egyptian politician kissing dead baby killed by Hamas

During Operation Pillar of Defense, the media was fooled at least twice – and possibly three times – with false Arab reports that children were killed by Israeli airstrikes when they were killed by errant terror rockets from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Even schools have been hit by terrorist rockets.

Also, several civilians have been killed from gunfire during funerals of terrorists.

When terrorists are firing rockets hurriedly, as they are now, the chances for misfires is even greater. Not to mention “work accidents” (which have killed dozens this year [2014]  alone) are probably more likely to occur in Gaza weapons workshops and laboratories. 

Also Gaza spokespersons are known to lie and blame Israel for deaths caused by internal explosions.

For all these reasons, journalists must be especially careful when reporting on civilian deaths in Gaza.

The rule of thumb is that if the IDF denies an airstrike in an area where people were killed, the people were not killed by an Israeli airstrike.

Journalistic standards go out the window when reporting on Israeli airstrikes, and reporters conveniently forget the many times that Hamas and islamic Jihad rockets have killed Gazans over the years.

I see in Arab media photos of the targets that Israel admits, and those buildings are flattened. I have not yet seen any photos of the building that this mother and baby were in. An AFP reporter said it was heavily damaged, but I don’t know what that means. If we had photos we could know with more certainty. But even without it, the reports indicate that the Gaza Health Ministry is lying, because “witnesses” are contradicting themselves:

“The Israeli plane fired a missile near the house and the shrapnel entered the house and hit the poor baby,” Seba’s aunt said.
“They were sitting at the yard in their house with their mother.” said Abu Nidal Abu Arar, a relative living next door.
“They were shocked by a missile landing on them. This occupation is criminal.”

If it was shrapnel, then there must be a huge impact crater or a collapsed building right  nearby. No one is claiming that.

It sure looks like a Hamas rocket so far.

UPDATE: Gaza News Agency – not a fan of Hamas nor of Israel – says flatly it was a Hamas rocket.

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