Bad Reporting and Staged Photos Featuring Blind Gazan Boy

AFP have a report about a small Gazan boy who was blinded by an exploded missile, which his parents allege was fired by the IAF:

Eight-year-old Mohammed Shaban dreamed of returning to the classroom in Gaza for the start of the school year. But after an exploded missile blinded him in May, he is staying home.

Mohammed used to attend school with his cousins and neighbours in the town of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.

He is one of hundreds of children the United Nations says were injured during fighting in May between Israel and the Hamas Islamists who control the Palestinian enclave.

From May 10 to 21, the Israeli army pummelled the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire by Hamas.

Mohammed said he was walking to a market to buy clothes during the conflict when a missile exploded.

As a result of the blast, his father Hani said, “Mohammed was injured in the eyes, which led to the loss of his eyes, and Mohammed became completely blind.”

The Shabans say Mohammed was injured by a missile fired by the Israelis, although AFP could not independently verify it.

While AFP are correct to not accept this assertion as fact, they did not go far enough in casting doubt on the assertion. If they had bothered doing some research, they would have seen it is almost certain the boy was blinded by a Hamas rocket that fell short. The following is from a recent Human Rights Watch report, who are not exactly pro-Israel to say the least:

Human Rights Watch determined, based on witness accounts during site visits, munition remnants, and a review of video footage, that a Palestinian rocket misfired in the city of Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip on the evening of May 10, killing seven civilians, including two children.

Human Rights Watch visited the site on July 14 and 26 and spoke with 10 witnesses to the strike and its aftermath. We are withholding their names for their security.

The rocket, launched at around 6 p.m. on May 10, landed in Martyr Saleh Dardona Street, about 20 meters from the Omari Mosque, in Jabayla. Three adults and one child who were on the street at the time said they saw a rocket rise into the sky above them and then fall to the street. Two of the adults said they saw the rocket coming from the northwest. A fourth person heard the sound of a rocket being launched and saw it strike in front of his shop.

The wife of one of those killed said:

[My husband] had just come home from work. He had bought sweets and new clothes for everyone, in preparation for Eid [Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan]. Before he left, he gave the kids some sweets and kissed and hugged them. Then he asked me to look after the kids, as he wanted to buy one more thing. He told me he wouldn’t be delayed, as he was feeling tired. But he never came back.

A local shop owner said:

People were gathering [on the street] watching the rockets in the sky. I saw a rocket spinning in the air and then it came down and exploded, about 10 meters from where I was standing. There was smoke. I saw the dead and injured. I couldn’t stand what I saw. I broke down.… I saw a child, Mohammed Shaban, whose eyes were bleeding.

A relative of another person killed said:

At about 6 p.m. I was standing near the entrance to the local market on Martyr Salah Dardona Street. I was near about 50 people who were close together in the street. Some of them were there to get food for poor people, cooked by locals wanting to help the poor during Ramadan.

Suddenly, I heard a barrage of rockets being fired and I looked up and saw them rise in the air. I saw one rocket rising in the shape of a spiral and then it came down in the middle of the street about 10 meters from where I was standing.

AFP’s negligence here is even worse when you consider they are aware of the report.

Human Rights Watch has accused both Israel and Gaza of war crimes during the conflict.

Israeli air strikes killed 260 Palestinians, including fighters, while munitions fired by militants in Gaza killed 13 people in Israel, including a soldier.

HRW said Israeli strikes were not always directed at military targets.

But how many people who read the AFP report will bother to find out the truth? They will believe Israel is to blame.

Meanwhile, some propagandists, like palestinian Arab “journalist” Aya Isleem, have posted out these photos of Muhammad Shaaban in class.

But remember what the AFP reported:

Eight-year-old Mohammed Shaban dreamed of returning to the classroom in Gaza for the start of the school year. But after an exploded missile blinded him in May, he is staying home.

At home, Hani Shaban guided his son to sit down on cushions and showed him the collared shirts of his school uniform.

Mohammed gripped a pen and tried to form letters in a notebook as his parents encouraged him.

“In the future, I hope he can go to a special school for the disabled,” said Somaya Shaban, Mohammed’s mother.

She took her son in her arms and burst into tears.

“I wish to go to school and see the children, and wish see my sisters, and I wish to see my mother and father, and to play with the children,” Mohammed said.

In other words, clearly staged photos.


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