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