I wrote about the photograph of BBC Arabic editor Jihad Masharawi holding the shrouded body of his 11-month-old son, Omar, in posts here, here, here and here. The photograph depicted Masharawi outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City early in Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense. The young Masharawi’s death was attributed to an Israeli airstrike.
The photograph went viral on the second day of the conflict between Hamas and Israel, being featured on the Web and in newspapers around the world. One such among many was the Washington Post, which ran it at the top of page one. The photo is below.
Everything Pexton asserted directly or indirectly as a matter of fact was wrong. When a major newspaper ombudsman is this utterly clueless, who ya gonna call? Not Ghostbusters. Power Line, I guess.
Paul Danahar is the BBC Middle East Bureau Chief and Masharawi’s colleague. He spent much of the day at Masharawi’s house on the day on the day Masharawi’s son was killed, tweeting a photo of the hole in the roof of Masharawi’s house. The house wasn’t bombed, Pexton to the contrary notwithstanding. Danahar described the munition that did the damage as a “shell.”
I tweeted Danahar to ask him on what basis he identified the munition as Israeli. I wrote at the time on Power Line that I doubted it was. I thought it was more likely to have been a Hamas rocket that failed to hit its intended target in Israel. (As I recall, something like 10 percent of the Hamas rockets landed in Gaza.) Danahar failed to respond to my tweet, although he relentlessly propagated the line that Israeli forces had killed Masharawi’s son.
Everything about the photograph looked phony to me. Was Masharawi sobbing? His face doesn’t even look like he has shed tears. Masharawi looks like he’s enacting grief. I understand that Masharawi in fact lost his son as a result of the munition that hit his house, but I found the photo odd (as I did the other photos in the series of Masharawi parading around for the cameras).
I thought that Masharawi was engaging in an opportunistic bit of Terrorist Theater, the kind I wrote about in the Weekly Standard article “He didn’t give at the office.” The article demonstrates how news service stringers in Gaza work as an arm of the terrorist authorities on whom they purport to report. By the way, the staged photos of Arafat that I wrote about in the Standard article were the work of an AP stringer. The photo of Masharawi that the Post ran was credited to the AP.
Terrorist Theater is a function of the sinister authority wielded by terrorist forces in the areas where they hold sway. Gaza is of course under the thumb of Hamas, one such terrorist power.
We held that the death of Masharawi’s son was a tragedy and offered our condolences to Masharawi on the loss of his son. We acknowledged that we didn’t know to a certainty what had happened or who is responsible for the death, and therefore asked readers to keep an open mind.
I hope you will forgive me for rehearsing what must seem like ancient history, but it really is necessary to put this report in context, as they say: “UN clears Israel of charge it killed baby in Gaza.” The Times of Israel has the story, based on this UN report:
United Nations report cleared Israel in the death of the infant son of a BBC employee during Operation Pillar of Defense in November, instead fingering a misfired Palestinian rocket for the tragedy.
The November 14 strike left 11-month-old Omar Jihad al-Mishrawi and Hiba Aadel Fadel al-Mishrawi, 19, dead. The death of Omar, the son of BBC Arabic journalist Jihad al-Mishrawi, garnered more than usual media attention and focused anger for the death on Israel, which was initially blamed for the death.
Rather, the report suggests, a 19-year-old woman and a baby were hit by shrapnel from a rocket fired by Palestinians that was aimed at Israel, but missed its mark.
Omar is dead, and Hamas killed him, but both Jihad and jihad live, and the BBC and the Washington Post among others are their willing tools.