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Monday, March 11, 2013

My UN scoop makes it to AP! (UPDATE 3: BBC and WaPo reports on it)

This is what news blogging is all about.

My scoop showing that the UN exonerated Israel for the killing of baby Omar Mishrawi, son of a BBC employee in Gaza, was been picked up by various outlets.
The groundswell continued, reaching outside Israeli and Zionist media and being published by Bild  and DPA (Germany) and Free Beacon - which did real reporting in following up with the UN and WaPo.

Now, at 10:31 EDT today,  AP has picked it up!
A U.N. report indicates an errant Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli airstrike, likely killed the baby of a BBC reporter during fighting in the Hamas-ruled territory last November.

The death of Omar al-Masharawi, the 11-month-old son of BBC stringer Jihad al-Masharawi, became a symbol of what Palestinians see as Israeli aggression during eight days of fighting that killed more than 160 Palestinians and six Israelis. A woman was killed alongside the baby.

Israel launched hundreds of airstrikes to stop Palestinian rocket salvos.

The U.N. office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a March 6 report that the incident was caused by "what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel."

Hamas had no response Monday. BBC officials were not immediately available for comment.
It will be a bit harder for the BBC, WaPo and other outlets to ignore this if AP reporters are asking them questions.

Although it is a shame that their interest in the truth is so low that they don't re-check their facts before the point that they would be embarrassed by not addressing them.

Let's hope that the pressure continues to have news outlets (and NGOs) admit that they made false assumptions, and that they realize that those assumptions were based on nothing more than anti-Israel bias. After all, people who carefully monitor Gaza would have known ahead of time that many Gaza rockets fall short - and that Gaza authorities, and Gaza NGOs, routinely lie about it.

There are lessons to be learned for bloggers and blog-readers as well. Sometimes our efforts do break through, and for that to happen we need lots of retweets and forwards, directed at the people who are guilty of media bias to begin with, as well as to journalists who still care about the truth. When there is clearly interest in a story like this it makes it harder for the paid media to ignore it. Thanks so much to the hundreds of people who "Liked" and Tweeted this story.

Let's keep it going.

UPDATE: The BBC finally acknowledged the story, although it is doing everything it can to cast doubt on the UN version of the events:

The son of a BBC journalist and two relatives killed in last November's war in Gaza may have been hit by a misfired Palestinian rocket, a UN agency says.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said its conclusions were based on a visit to the site a month after the attack.

At the time, human rights groups blamed the deaths on an Israeli air strike.

The Israeli military says it never denied carrying out the strike because it was not clear what had happened.

UN officials visited the house four weeks after the strike.

They said they did not carry out a forensic investigation, but said their team did not think the damage was consistent with an Israeli air strike.

However, the UN said it could not "unequivocally conclude" it was a misfired Palestinian rocket.

A UN official said it was also possible the house was hit by a secondary explosion after an Israeli air strike on Palestinian weapons stores.

Jehad Mashhrawi dismissed the UN findings as "rubbish".

He said nobody from the United Nations had spoken to him, and said Palestinian militant groups would usually apologise to the family if they had been responsible.

An Israeli military spokesman said he could not comment on the accuracy of the UN's findings but said it would not be the first time a Palestinian rocket had misfired.

He said that, in the intense first hours of the conflict, it was not always clear what was happening.
It is quite plausible that the damage came from shrapnel from a secondary explosion of a terrorist weapons depot. In fact, initial interviews with Jihad himself indicated that it was "shrapnel," not a rocket - he changed his story after the photo became famous. And we do know that there were terror targets in the area.

At least the BBC is not as unequivocal that this was an Israeli missile, as it was previously.

UPDATE 2: The Washington Post, which was equally guilty, has posted a more expansive AP report:

Matthias Behnke, head of OHCHR office for the Palestinian territories, cautioned he couldn’t “unequivocally conclude” that the death was caused by an errantly fired Palestinian rocket. He said information gathered from eyewitnesses led them to report that “it appeared to be attributable to a Palestinian rocket.”

He said Palestinian militants were firing rockets at Israel not far from the al-Masharawi home. Behnke said the area was targeted by Israeli airstrikes, but the salvo that hit the al-Masharawi home was “markedly different.”

He said there was no significant damage to the house, unusual for an Israeli strike. He said witnesses reported that a fireball struck the roof of the house, suggesting it was a part of a homemade rocket. Behnke said the type of injuries sustained by al-Masharawi family members were consistent with rocket shrapnel.

All in all, with major world media reporting on the UN report, this is a major win for the truth.

UPDATE 3: The BBC lies:
The UN report concluded that at least 169 Palestinians were killed by Israeli attacks during the offensive.

It said more than 100 were civilians, including 33 children and 13 women.
The actual report says:
During the crisis, 174 Palestinians were killed in Gaza. At least 168 of them were killed by Israeli military action, of whom 101 are believed to be civilians, including 33 children and 13 women.
The UN is properly saying that 101 may be civilian, but it is not certain. The BBC - so eager to seize on the UN's uncertainty about the rockets - does not notice the same uncertainty about identifying the victims as being civilian.

There seems to be a pattern here.

Remember that the Meir Amit Intelligence Center identified 101 terrorists, and 68 civilians, killed in the fighting.


(h/t Elias, Gary, Silke, Omri)