Electronic Intifada’s Latest Libel: Israel Causes Cancer

Israel-hating propaganda rag Electronic Intifada turns Israel-bashing into an art form. In one of their latest libels against the Jewish state, they claim we are responsible for causing cancer.

I wish I was kidding.


Jihad is a boy with ambitions. “I want to grow until I become an astronaut and an engineer,” the 9-year-old said. “At the same time.”

Jihad me at Jihad.

Before he could achieve those goals, Jihad would have to recover from a major illness. About a year ago, he was diagnosed with cancer of the colon.

The diagnosis was made after he had been taken to hospital with food poisoning.

I’m actually surprised that EI did not blame the food poisoning on Israel. Then again, some good apparently come out of it, so perhaps not.

Yousef Deeb APA images

For his family, the news was the latest in a series of tragedies. Jihad’s twin brother was born with severe disabilities and died after just two months.

“I was so happy when the doctor told me I was pregnant with twin boys,” Jihad’s mother, Majda Ali, said. “I started to dream about how I would be mother to a doctor and an engineer. The dream has been destroyed.”

Majda does not know the cause of Jihad’s cancer. She fears, however, that it may have something to do with how she was exposed to a considerable amount of dust from buildings bombed by Israel during Operation Cast Lead, the attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.

What she does know is that Jihad requires urgent treatment. He has been referred to specialists working in Jerusalem. It is not clear when – or even if – Israel will allow him to travel.

Rates of cancer are rising in Gaza. Health ministry officials have estimated that there were 105 cases of cancer for every 100,000 residents in Gaza for 1998-2008. For 2009-2014, that had increased to 141 cases per 100,000 residents, 41 percent more than in the previous period.

EI’s source for the cancer statistics is the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. Their numbers can never be trusted, since they demonstrably inflate them to serve their propaganda goals. But given EI’s founder Ali Abunimah is a Hamas fanboy, it is not surprising EI would disseminate these false numbers.

Their claim here is the Gaza cancer rate is 141 cases per 100,000 people. Which actually contradicts the number of 83.9 cases per 100,000 people just put out by the Palestinian Ministry of Health (run by the PA). And note the discrepancy – the Hamas number is a whopping 68% higher than the PA one.

And even if you accepted the false Hamas numbers, that cancer rate is way lower than that of other countries – including Israel’s, which is over 3 times as high as the Gaza Health Ministry rate.

But the EI smear-job does not stop there. Armed with the false statistics that are still relatively low when compared to other countries, they then try to pin the blame on Israel. Because, Electronic Intifada.

Cancer rates are increasing worldwide, particularly in developing countries, due to an increase in risk factors like smoking, adoption of Western diets and sedentary lifestyles, as well as environmental pressures.

But in Gaza, there are particular concerns that Israeli weaponry may be a contributing factor.


Israel is known to have experimented with a number of weapons during the 2008 offensive. They included a US-supplied “bunker buster” missile called GBU-39 and white phosphorous, a weapon that causes severe burns.

Suspicions have been raised that some of the missiles used by Israel were coated with depleted uranium, a radioactive substance.

Khaled Thabet, head of the oncology department at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, has said that Israel’s use of depleted uranium may be linked to increased levels of cancer.

It has been reported, too, that Israel has been spraying pesticides on farms in Gaza for a number of years. The use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers by farmers may also be contributing to the rise in cancer rates. Colon cancer may be caused by the presence of pollutants in food, according to Thabet.

The uranium-coating allegation is just that – an allegation, and an unsubstantiated one at that. A quote from a doctor from al-Shifra hospital – otherwise known as a Hamas base of operations – is equally laughable. As for the pesticide libel, I have debunked it before.

Given Israel’s cancer rate is so much higher than Gaza’s, perhaps we can claim that the barrages of Hamas rockets has helped increase our likelihood of cancer.

In any event, this is just another example of the kinds of smears Electronic Intifada and others disseminate against Israel. It is as false and pernicious as the blood libels against Jews from the Middle Ages – and is borne out of the same hatred.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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