A new report from a Palestinian human rights group is threatening to deepen a controversy over anti-Israel media bias that has already generated sustained criticism of major news organizations and NGO’s.
Early during Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in November pictures emerged documenting the death of Gaza-based BBC journalist Jihad Mishrawi’s infant son. It was at widely blamed on Israeli forces. An iconic photograph of Mishrawi cradling and mourning the boy was extensively broadcast and printed – landing on the front page of major newspapers across the globe – and used by human rights organizations as the basis for widespread and heated censure of the Israeli campaign.
Except it was patently obvious – as blogger Elder of Ziyon pointed out at the time – that the ordnance which killed the infant had been launched by Hamas. Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired roughly 1,500 rockets and missiles on cities and communities in Israel, many from behind Palestinian human shields, reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Nonetheless Elder of Ziyon’s analysis was ignored in the media frenzy that surrounded the boy’s death. Now his conclusion and his line of reasoning has been confirmed by Palestinian human rights groups and endorsed by the United Nations.
In March a report [PDF] from the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) said as much. The UNHRC has been accused of surreal, repeated bias against Israel, and so the conclusion raised more than one eyebrow.
This week more background on how the UNHRC came to its decision emerged. The Council’s work was grounded in an investigation by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR). The PCHR report not only confirmed Elder of Ziyon’s conclusions but also his analysis. It cited “the type of damage caused to the family home” and “the course or the direction of the rocket.”
The Tower spoke with the blogger behind the Elder of Ziyon blog in March:
I have been following Gaza rockets for many years, since before Cast Lead… A significant percentage of Gaza rockets – sometimes as high as 40% – either explode prematurely or fall short in Gaza, according to the Gaza NGO Safety Office, which tracks these things. When the BBC and Washington Post published photos of the damage in the Mishrawi house, it appeared to me to be more consistent with Qassam rocket damage in Israel than with Israeli missiles… I asked people I know with a military background and they agreed that the damage in the house was not consistent with Israeli fire.
Early on in Pillar of Defense, I noticed that news reporters were immediately blaming Israel for all Hamas civilian deaths… I noticed that the IDF had denied any airstrikes at the time [of the baby’s death], casting doubt that the boy was killed by Israeli fire. Other evidence came to light indicating that he was killed by Hamas, and finally The Telegraph did some real reporting saying that it was a rocket from Gaza.
The incident will likely trigger calls for media outlets to install checks in order to prevent similar errors in the future.