September 18, 2018

Hamas Paid Family to Lie About Baby’s Cause of Death At Border Riots

Remember when critics of Israel’s handling of the Gaza riots pointed to the news of an 8-month-old baby dying at the border to substantiate their argument? It is now being reported that Hamas paid the baby’s family to lie about the cause of death.

According to the Times of Israel, a cousin of the baby, Mahmoud Omar, admitted to Israeli interrogators that the baby, Layla Ghandour, had died of a pre-existing blood disease. Her brother had died from the same disease a year earlier.

And yet, her death was initially reported as being due to tear gas inhalation from Israeli soldiers. Layla’s mother had declared to the media, “The Israelis killed her!” Layla’s death soon became a cause célèbre among anti-Israel activists, although a subsequent report from AFP quoted a Gaza doctor who said that Layla had died from a medical condition.

The reason for the discrepancy: Hamas.

“Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar paid Layla’s parents, Miriam and Anwar Ghandour, NIS 8,000 ($2,206) to tell the media that the infant had died due to tear gas inhalation at the Gaza protests,” the Times of Israel reports.

Such instances of Hamas manipulation are not new. For instance, a video was taken at the border in May of a Palestinian using crutches that somehow found the ability to start running:

Additionally, journalist Matt Friedman revealed in a May New York Times op-ed that Hamas had threatened him into reporting a trumped-up casualty figure in the 2008 Israel-Hamas war.

“Early in that war, I complied with Hamas censorship in the form of a threat to one of our Gaza reporters and cut a key detail from an article: that Hamas fighters were disguised as civilians and were being counted as civilians in the death toll,” Friedman wrote. “The bureau chief later wrote that printing the truth after the threat to the reporter would have meant ‘jeopardizing his life.’ Nonetheless, we used that same casualty toll throughout the conflict and never mentioned the manipulation.”

Friedman added that Hamas was emboldened into this kind of action by a Western media that was hungry for an anti-Israel narrative.

“Hamas understood that Western news outlets wanted a simple story about villains and victims and would stick to that script, whether because of ideological sympathy, coercion or ignorance,” Friedman wrote. “The press could be trusted to present dead human beings not as victims of the terrorist group that controls their lives, or of a tragic confluence of events, but of an unwarranted Israeli slaughter. The willingness of reporters to cooperate with that script gave Hamas the incentive to keep using it.”