Wednesday, May 01, 2013

  • Wednesday, May 01, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
During Operation Pillar of Defense, Western media uniformly reported that Omar Mishrawi, the baby son of BBC reporter Jihad Mishrawi, was killed by an Israeli airstrike. This iconic photo was reproduced all over the media of the father's grief.

I was the first to cast doubt on the idea that this was an Israeli airstrike, based my own observations of the damage to his home, knowledge of the frequency of Gaza rockets that fall short as well as expert military testimony by JE Dyer. The BBC claimed that my evidence was not enough, and continued to say that the baby was "most likely" murdered by Israel.

I was also the first to report that a UN report released in March verified that Mishrawi was killed by a Hamas rocket. The BBC, however - which has no expertise in munitions or forensics - continued to claim that it was an Israeli airstrike responsible, saying that there were no Hamas rocket attacks at the time the Mishrawi home was hit.

Now, of all places, Electronic Intifada - attempting to prove that Omar Mishrawi was killed by Israel - finds more evidence that he was killed by a Gaza rocket, and that the BBC is not telling the truth:

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights published a report on 22 November stating that Omar was killed when an Israeli missile struck the family home, and hasn’t published anything on the case since then. (PCHR did not reply to queries from The Electronic Intifada on the Masharawi case.) But the Gaza-based rights group Al-Mezan says that the UN report is based on its own investigation into the incident.

I spoke with Mohammed Suliman, who works with Al-Mezan, about Omar Masharawi’s case. (Disclosure: Suliman is an occasional contributor to The Electronic Intifada and has blogged for us in the past. Readers may also recognize Suliman from a viral video of an Israeli missile strike dramatically cutting him off during a debate with an Israeli in Ashkelon on CNN during the November attacks.)

The UN fact-finding mission’s conclusions were largely based on Al-Mezan’s fieldwork, though this is not mentioned in its report, Suliman said. Suliman explained to me that Al-Mezan’s fieldworker visited the Masharawi home in the wake of the strike and conducted interviews with people in the area. Its findings at the time were that baby Omar was most likely killed as a result of a Palestinian-fired rocket.

Al Mezan’s findings are based on the type of damage caused to the family home, which it says is not characteristic of an Israeli F-16, Apache helicopter or drone strike. Meanwhile, Palestinian armed groups were firing rockets towards Israel half a kilometer from the Masharawi home and Israeli strikes were targeting the sites of the rocket-launchers at the time of the incident, he said.

“Now, what happened is that during this short period of exchange of fire between Palestinian groups and Israeli war planes, Masharawi’s house was hit. So it was very ambiguous what the cause of that attack was — it could be Palestinian rocket fire or Israeli war planes,” Suliman explained.

“I understand from our fieldworker that the course or the direction of the rocket which hit Masharawi’s house [indicates] that it was Palestinian rocket fire,” in addition to the damage not being characteristic of an Israeli strike.
Of course, Al Mezan (and EI) then try to spin this incident into saying that baby Omar's death is really Israel's fault anyway using their usual tortured logic and sickening spin to absolve terrorist rockets in civilian neighborhoods. They ignore that Omar was not the only child killed by Hamas rockets that was publicly and loudly blamed on Israel.

When looking at actual facts, however, it is increasingly clear that I was right and the BBC was wrong - and that the BBC has been purposefully shading the truth about this case for the past five months. So has Human Rights Watch and other media and organizations that are reflexively anti-Israel whenever possible, even though the evidence on the ground from OCHA-OPT as early as late November indicated that Hamas rockets killed civilians in Gaza including Omar.

When will the BBC apologize for choosing the pathos of its employee's tragedy over accurate reporting? When will Human Rights Watch correct the record?

(big h/t to Anne)




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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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