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How the British Media Covered Omar Misharawi’s Death

The damage done by the now iconic image of Misharawi clutching his slain child can not be ameliorated by even the clearest retractions.
Jihad Masharawi weeps holding the body of his 11-month old son after Israeli air strikes on Gaza

We recently noted that on March 12 the Guardian’s media blogger Roy Greenslade corrected his erroneous Nov 15 report (a day after the start of the Gaza war) that an Israeli missile killed the 11-month old son of BBC Arabic journalist Jihad Misharawi, Omar, as well as Jihad’s sister-in-law. (Misharawi’s brother also later died of wounds suffered in the blast.)

Greenslade, as with journalists at numerous other news outlets over the past week, noted in his new report that on March 6 the U.N. issued an advance version of its report on the war which concluded that Misharawi was likely killed by an errant Palestinian missile, not by the IDF. (This information in the report was first discovered by Elder of Ziyon, who also was one of the few bloggers who critically examined initial reports in the MSM blaming Israel for Misharawi’s death.)

Additionally, the Guardian published an A.P. report on March 12, ‘U.N. report suggests Palestinian rocket killed baby in Gaza,’ which went into detail about the new information which contradicted the “widely believed story behind an image that became a symbol of what Palestinians said was Israeli aggression.”

Thus far, the Guardian still hasn’t corrected a Nov. 15 report by Paul Owen and Tom McCarthy, ‘Gaza Twitter war intensifies over pictures of infant casualties‘, which included the heartbreaking photo of Misharawi as well as the following text:

Pictures emerged of BBC cameraman Jihad Misharawi’s 11-month-old son Omar, who was killed on Wednesday during an Israeli attack [emphasis added]. Misharawi’s sister-in-law also died in the strike on Gaza City, and his brother was seriously injured.

Though the damage done by the now iconic image of Misharawi ‘clutching his slain child wrapped in a shroud‘ can not be ameliorated by even the clearest retractions, it’s important nonetheless that the media be held accountable to report new information which comes to light contradicting their previous version of events.

Whilst you can of course find out how the BBC covered the news at CifWatch’s sister site, BBC Watch, here’s a quick round-up of how others in the British media performed:

The Telegraph. On Nov. 15, the Telegraph published ‘Baby son of BBC worker killed in Gaza strike‘ which included the photo of Misharawi, and this passage:

Jihad Misharawi, who is employed by BBC Arabic, lost his 11-month-old baby Omar. Mr Misharawi’s brother was also seriously injured when his house was struck in the Israeli operation and his sister-in-law was killed.

Additionally, a Nov. 15 Telegraph Live Blog post on the Gaza war included this passage:

Jihad Misharawi, who is employed by BBC Arabic, lost his 11-month-old baby Omar. His brother was also seriously injured when his house was struck in the Israeli operation and his sister-in-law was killed.

Corrections: None.

Daily Mail. On Nov. 15, the Daily Mail published a sensationalist piece by David Williams, titled ‘What did my son do to die like this?’Anguish of BBC journalist as he cradles the body of his baby son who died in Israeli rocket attack on Gaza‘, which included multiple photos of Misharawi with his baby and the following passages:

“Tiny Omar…died after an Israeli airstrike on Hamas militants in Gaza.

Masharawi had arrived at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital after Omar suffered severe burns in an airstrike that sent shrapnel tearing into his home killing a woman and leaving his brother and uncle critically injured.

Corrections: None.

Spectator. David Blackburn published a piece titled ‘Israel’s public relations problem‘ which included the image of Misharawi with his baby, as well as the following passage:

The front page of today’s Washington Post shows a picture of the BBC’s Jihad Masharawi holding his dead 11-month-old son, an innocent victim of Israeli action against Hamas’ paramilitary targets following months of indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilians in southern Israel*

Corrections: The piece has now been updated, per the asterisk, and includes the following at the bottom:

*Since this article was published, a United Nations investigation has found that the incident described by the Washington Post was caused by the shortfall of a rocket fired by Palestinian militants at targets in Israel.

The Sun. On Nov. 15 The Sun published ‘The Innocents: Beeb journalist’s son dead, another hurt..babies hit as Gaza war looms,’ by Nick Parker, which included a photo of Misharawi and his baby, and this passage:

Omar was one of at least 15 Palestinians killed in air strikes as Israel retaliated over the Hamas missiles.

Corrections: None.

The Independent. On Nov. 15 The Independent published a piece by Amol Rojan titled ’11-month-old son of BBC picture editor is killed in Gaza air strike‘.  The relevant passages in the report are a bit vague, and only suggest causation, but the title alone, informing readers that Omar was killed by an airstrike, clearly implies Israel was to blame.

Corrections: The Indy has published two corrections: One by Alistair Dawber on March 12 titled ‘UN clears Israel and says errant Hamas rocket probably killed baby in Gaza,’ and a second shorter piece on the same day titled ‘Hamas rocket killed baby in Gaza’.

The Times. On Nov. 15 The Times published ‘Israelis turn on officials after three die in Hamas strike,’ by Sheera Frenkel (behind paywall). Here is the relevant passage:

One of the Palestinian dead was Ahmed Masharawi, the 11-month-old baby son of Jihad Masharawi, a picture editor for the BBC’s Arabic Service. An Israeli missile hit the family’s home in Gaza City, and Ahmed was pronounced dead in Shifa Hospital

On Nov. 16 The Times also published ‘Tel Aviv within reach of Hamas rockets,’ by Sheera Frenkel, (behind paywall).  Here are the relevant passages.

Meanwhile Israeli tanks, drones, Apache helicopters, warplanes and gunboats were firing into the densely populated Palestinian territory where so far 13 Palestinians, including seven militants and two children, are confirmed to have died and more than 100 to have been injured.

One of the Palestinian dead was Ahmed Masharawi, the 11-month-old baby son of Jihad Masharawi, a picture editor for the BBC’s Arabic Service. An Israeli missile hit the family’s home in Gaza City, and Ahmed was pronounced dead in Shifa Hospital

Corrections: None.

Visit CifWatch.com.

About the Author: Adam Levick serves as Managing Editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), and is a member of the Online Antisemitism Working Group for the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism. Adam made Aliyah from Philadelphia in 2009 and lives with his wife in Modi'in.


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2 Responses to “How the British Media Covered Omar Misharawi’s Death”

  1. I'm ashamed to have a British passport. Britain is showing its teeth very clearly against Israel, but keep on publicising the facts. Some of it may just be carelessness, or jumping to the most obvious conclusion.

  2. I'm ashamed to have a British passport. Britain is showing its teeth very clearly against Israel, but keep on publicising the facts. Some of it may just be carelessness, or jumping to the most obvious conclusion.

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