Guardian improves original headline to story on ALLEGED ‘Israeli tear gas’ fatality

The Guardian published this Reuters report today:

headlineThere’s one big problem. As you read the report it’s clear that, at this point, there are only “claims” by Palestinian “witnesses” that “an 85-year old Palestinian died after inhaling teargas fired by the Israeli army”.   The Israeli military is investigating the incident, and the allegation has not been corroborated.

Indeed, if you read reports elsewhere which cite the same Reuters story, you’ll see that a significant qualification was included:


Even Al-Arabiya noted that the report was only based on Palestinian sources:


Later in the day, Guardian editors changed the headline, adding quotes around ‘after inhaling tear gas’ and revising language in the strap line (“Villagers say…”) to indicate that the allegations are only based on what some Palestinians are telling the media.


Finally, as past claims about Palestinians allegedly killed by Israeli tear gas demonstrate, responsible media outlets would be wise to follow this story closely and not base their reports merely on Palestinian sources.

Editor’s Note:  We were recently contacted by Guardian editors to explain that CiF Watch did not prompt the correction, and that their staff caught the error and made the change on their own. The title of this post has been amended accordingly.

Abu Rahma Hoax, pt. 4 (Palestinian Authority may be about to throw in the towel over tear-gas death claims)

Ynet is now reporting that the IDF is about to reach an agreement with Palestinian Authority officials that the death of Jawaher Abu-Rahma in the West Bank village of Bilin last week was not caused by tear gas fired during an anti-fence rally in the area.

Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brigadier-General Nitzan Alon, said:

“Our assumptions were verified this week after we received additional documents from the Palestinians.”

Alon added:

“The documents and data we received strengthened the understanding that her death was caused by the method of the medical treatment and other medical aspects.”

We’ll let you know when the agreement is indeed reached. But, its beginning to look more and more like yet another Palestinian libel against the Jewish state is about to be thoroughly disproven.

(See our previous posts on the topic, here, here, here, and here)

The Abu Rahma Hoax, pt. 3 (Does this Palestinian version of events in Bilin seem credible to you?)

H/T Elder of Ziyon

This map, from today’s issue of Ha’aretz, represents an aggregate of the most recent (various) Palestinian versions of events at last Friday’s violent protest in Bilin which, it is alleged, led to the death of Jawaher Abu Rahma. (See our posts on the incident, here, here and here.)

Click to enlarge

According to this version, Abu Rahma was up to 180 meters away from the tear gas – fired, lets remember, outdoors – which, though not harming any of the protesters who were directly exposed to the chemical, still managed to cause her to collapse and eventually die.

According to the New York City Health Department:

“The effects of tear gas are usually only temporary. Symptoms typically go away within an hour after exposure stops. Effects on skin may take longer to improve….Prolonged exposure to tear gas or exposure to a particularly large amount, especially in an enclosed area, may lead to long-term eye problems (scarring, glaucoma, or cataracts) and may possibly cause breathing problems such as asthma.

The report continues:

The deadly effects of tear gas would only occur following exposure to a dosage several hundred times greater than the amount of tear gas typically used by law enforcement officials for crowd control.

Since Abu Rahma’s burial was undertaken via an accelerated procedure, no post-mortem was performed, and the medical records of her treatment were (to put it mildly) incomplete and contradictory, we’ll likely never know for sure what caused her death.

However, to note that the current Palestinian claims lack credibility is a profound understatement.

The Abu Rahma Hoax, pt 2 (A new claim contradicts original report)

New information regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of Jawaher Abu Rahma continue to make initial reports by the Palestinian Authority – that Abu Rahma died, as the result of tear-gas fired by IDF forces, while protesting in Bilin (a narrative repeated by the MSM) – seem less credible by the day.

As we noted in our original post yesterday, regarding what Saeb Erekat immediately labeled a “war crime“:

  • Medical records from the hospital where Abu Rahma was treated contain wildly contradictory and incomplete information regarding the time of her admission, prior treatment and medical condition, and cause of death.
  • There has been no photo taken of Abu Rahma at the protest in question, or at any previous Bilin protest.
  • The burial was undertaken via an accelerated procedure, and no post-mortem was performed.

Now, CiF Watch has obtained the following image of the Facebook page of the cousin of Abu Rahma, Hamde Abu, who claims that she indeed was NOT present at the protest in question.

Click to Enlarge


Hamde claims that his cousin was not present at the protest, but was:

“…in her home, approximately 500 meters away from where the gas canisters landed, when she suffered the effects of gas that was carried over the village by wind.  The chemicals caused poisoning in her lungs, which caused suffocation and the stopping of the heart, leading to her death…”

So, if, as her cousin says, Abu Rahma was 500 meters away from the tear gas, the claim that the gas killed her seems less and less likely.  At the very least, if the tear-gas used was so lethal, why weren’t protesters who were more directly exposed to the chemical the ones killed, rather than a woman 500 meters away?

More, on the technical question of whether tear-gas could conceivably carry in the wind and kill someone so far away, will be posted soon.

(Update: I just wanted to note that Elder of Ziyon, who’s been doing stellar work on this story, also obtained the Facebook image in question, and posted about it previously.)

Palestinian version of events in Bilin begin to unravel (Abu Rahma Hoax, part 1)

The initial reports, by Palestinian officials, regarding the death of Jawaher Abu Rahma, are beginning to unravel.

Rahma, 36, died on Saturday as the result of injuries sustained Friday, when she was alleged to have inhaled tear gas during a clash between IDF soldiers and 250 violent protesters in Bilin (in the West Bank) along the separation barrier.

The Guardian went with an AP report which contained the headline, “Israel investigates tear gas death of Palestinian protester”, a title which would imply that the cause of death was known, when even their own report acknowledged that there were “contradictory accounts of the circumstances.”

They also used this dramatic photo of mourners carrying the body of Rahma in a funeral procession in Bilin.

Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP that the death was nothing less than a “war crime.”

The initial skepticism, by Israeli officials, on the veracity of Palestinian claims was based on the reluctance, by Palestinian Authorities, to release medical records of the woman, as is customary after such incidents.

And, a couple of hours ago, Israeli TV and radio news were reporting that the initial investigation, by Israeli authorities, found that the woman was not even present at the that protest.

Further, highly reliable Israeli security officials who I spoke to this evening noted the following:

  • According to records, at the hospital in Ramallah where Rahma was treated, lab work was completed at 14:45 on Saturday.  Yet, the same records indicate that she was only admitted to the hospital at 15:20 that day.
  • The hospital’s records listed the official cause of death as “inhaling gas from Israeli soldier according to the family.”   In addition to the the highly unusual fact that a hospital’s claims, as an official cause of death, were based not on medical reports, but on anecdotal evidence, Israeli officials also noted that its highly unlikely that the tear gas used could be lethal, particularly given that it was fired in a large open field.
  • The hospital admission record stated that the woman had never been to the hospital before, but Israeli officials have confirmed that Rahma had been treated there many times over the last month, and indeed was on various medications – including one commonly used to treat leukemia.
  • The burial was undertaken via an accelerated procedure, and no post-mortem was performed.
  • Her family’s report that she was “hurt by Israeli gas” was not corroborated by any other source.

While we’ll continue to monitor this story, and keep you posted on subsequent developments, it’s certainly beginning to appear as if, once again, mainstream media news organizations, such as the Guardian, have been duped – victims of their own preconceived conclusions of immutable Israeli guilt.

Note: Other bloggers following this story include: Elder of Ziyon, The Muqata, Israel Matsav, and Israelly Cool