UN Exonerates Israel in Gaza Child Death, Media Ignores

Referring to the impact of Israeli air strikes on Gaza during November 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense the BBC’s Wyre Davis wrote:

In the BBC Gaza office, that feeling was most tangibly felt on the first day of this conflict when Omar, the 11-month-old son of our cameraman Jihad Misharawi, was killed when a missile hit his home. It was a pointless, terrible tragedy that deeply affected Jihad’s colleagues who live and work here in these testing conditions.

Indeed, the BBC in its coverage, claimed Omar almost as one of its own, making sure to mention him in dispatches as the victim of an Israeli attack without even considering any other possibility:

Many of the Palestinians killed in Gaza during the last two days by the Israeli aerial and naval bombardment were members of militant groups, but civilians – including at least four children – were also among the dead. They included 11-month-old Omar, the son of Jihad Misharawi, a BBC Arabic picture editor.

And thanks to his links to the BBC, Misharawi’s tragedy became one of the highest profile incidents of civilian casualties during the conflict, appearing in many other media outlets including the  Washington Post, where it made the front page and a behind the scenes feature which stated:

An Israeli round hit Misharawi’s four-room home in Gaza Wednesday, killing his son, according to BBC Middle East bureau chief Paul Danahar.

Similar charges against Israel appeared in The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Huffington Post and others.

In an interview with BBC Arabic, Jihad Misharawi stated that his 11-month old son, his sister-in-law and his brother were killed by shrapnel that hit his family home in the Al-Zeitoun neighborhood.

Now an advanced version of a UN Human Rights Council report on the conflict states:

On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.

This information was released on March 6. As yet, no mainstream media outlet has covered the UN report let alone revisited the story of Omar Misharawi.

The media, so quick to judge Israel as the brutal killer of Palestinian children, have not bothered to correct an error when it turns out that Hamas is responsible for the killing.

Perhaps as well, the media has not seen fit to even bother with the UN report itself, because it not only criticizes Israel but also reaches a conclusion that is only surprising in that it appears in a UN authored report:

Palestinian armed groups continuously violated international humanitarian law, by launching indiscriminate attacks on Israel and by attacking civilians, thereby disregarding the principle of distinction. The armed groups failed to take all feasible precautions in attacks, in particular by launching rockets from populated areas, which put the population at grave risk. Furthermore, several Palestinians were killed by rockets launched by the armed groups that fell short and landed in the Gaza Strip.

But Omar Misharawi certainly wasn’t the only victim of Hamas’s reckless disregard for its own people. One of fastest spreading images of the conflict showed a dead girl in the arms of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The only problem was that the girl wasn’t killed by Israel, but rather by an errant rocket fired by Haniyeh’s own organization.

Clearly, confirmation that Hamas is responsible for the deaths of its own people, including children, isn’t news for the mainstream media and that includes correcting those errors where Israel has wrongly taken the blame.

HonestReporting CEO Joe Hyams adds:

Yet again the reflexive anti-Israel attitude of the foreign media has led to false accusations against Israel. That the media is unwilling to correct the error or to hold Hamas publicly responsible is not only a slap in the face for Israel but also to the readers and viewers who are entitled to proper standards of accuracy from the media. Those media that published a falsehood should hold up their hands and print a retraction immediately.

You can help force the media to print those retractions by sending your comments to outlets including: the BBC – www.bbc.co.uk/complaints, the readers’ editors of the Washington Post – readers@washpost.com – and The Guardian – reader@guardian.co.uk, the Daily Telegraph – dtnews@telegraph.co.uk, and the Huffington Post – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/contact/.

UPDATE: The New York Times has published a short AP report on this story.