The return of Pallywood?

On Thursday CNN ran a tragic story of death at an early age resulting from Israel’s offensive in Gaza:

At a Gaza hospital, doctors tried to revive a 12-year-old victim of the violence, but their efforts were in vain. Mahmoud died.

Recording the tragedy at the hospital was his brother, freelance cameraman Ashraf Mashharawi.

Just a short time earlier, Mashharawi had been filming other, less personal images of the war — scenes like incoming missiles and the damage they do. Then, he got a phone call. Mashharawi was told the family home had been hit by a rocket.

His brother, Mahmoud and his 14-year-old cousin Ahmad, had been allowed to play on the roof after days of being cooped up inside as Israel continued its assault on Gaza.

Both boys died after the rocket hit.

CNN also broadcast the video (below) shot by “freelance cameraman Ashraf Mashharawi.” Charles Johnson notes that the video includes a cameo by Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, a radical Marxist who openly supports Hamas and the 9/11 hijackers. That’s strike one against its authenticity.

A reader of Charles’s site calls strike two, observing in part:

I’m no military expert, but I am a doctor, and this video is bullsh-t. The chest compressions that were being performed at the beginning of this video were absolutely, positively fake. The large man in the white coat was NOT performing CPR on that child. He was just sort of tapping on the child’s sternum a little bit with his fingers. You can’t make blood flow like that. Furthermore, there’s no point in doing chest compressions if you’re not also ventilating the patient somehow.

Richard Landes notes other factors suggestive of a staged production, among them CNN’s quiet removal of the video from its site. Following Landes’s post, however, CNN restored the video and, as Roger Simon reports, is “now insisting it is genuine, despite giving no specific response to any of the criticisms.” CNN vouches for the authenticity of the video, quoting Paul Martin of World News & Features on the bona fides of Ashraf Mashharawi:

“He’s a man of enormous integrity and would never get involved with any sort of manipulation of images, let alone when the person dying is his own brother,” Martin said. “I know the whole family. I know them very well. … [Mashharawi] is upset and angry that anyone would think of him having done anything like this. … This is ridiculous. He’s independent.”

Charles Johnson responds, adding a note regarding Mashharawi:

According to Internet Haganah’s database of terror website hosts, in 2004, which lists Mashharawi as general manager, was the operator of the main Hamas website and the website of Hamas’ radio station Voice of Al Aqsa.

If true, that would be strike three. In an update, Charles links to the Web site of World News & Features, cited by CNN as a reliable source for news from Gaza. Charles comments, ringing up strike four: “Please excuse me while I laugh.”

JOHN adds: As others have noted, CNN on-air personnel openly ridiculed the idea of sending Joe the Plumber to Israel as a “reporter.” They think he’s unqualified for the job. I’m not sure what qualifies a person to be a reporter, but unwillingness to make s*** up would seem to be at the top of the list.

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