By Jonathan Benedek/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – The World Health Organization report in May warning of the “mental, physical, and environmental health” of Palestinian Authority Arabs under Israeli control is facing a wave of criticism from Israeli officials who are challenging the report’s accuracy and objectivity. The WHO conference also earned scrutiny from watchdog groups who pointed out that a Palestinian Authority report submitted to the UN health organization is riddled with false captions to photos accusing Israel of wrongdoing.
“Instead of compiling a professional and objective report, the WHO is being used by those whose only interest is to harm the State of Israel,” said Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN. “They are doing so even when this means that they are creating alternative reality and disseminating vicious lies.”
That type of alternate reality was depicted in a report submitted to WHO by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health in which several photographs contained captions with false descriptions, many of which were detailed in a post by the watchdog organization CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America).
The Palestinian Authority report also speculated on outlandish accusations against Israel, suggesting Israel freezes the bodies of Arab terrorists in order to obscure “whether the deceased individual’s organs have been stolen.” The Palestinian Authority health ministry also wondered – citing a “widespread belief among Palestinians” and a report in the former Soviet mouthpiece Pravda – whether “Israel has injected prisoners with carcinogenic viruses.”
The 59-page Palestinian Authority report is filled with pictures falsely captioned to assert Israeli violations of “Palestinian” rights.
In a section where the PA Ministry of Health accuses Israel of attacking Palestinian Authority medical staff and hospitals, the report includes a photograph of an Israeli soldier in an ambulance. The caption describes the image as “Israeli occupation soldiers search the interior of a Palestinian ambulance.” However, the image – actually of an IDF ambulance – is carefully cropped to exclude the Star of David icon as much as possible. Only the top pinpoint of the Jewish symbol is exposed at the bottom of the photograph, revealing the ambulance to be Israeli.
The significance of the photograph and its false caption relates to its possible influence in the crafting of WHO’s report, which was proposed by the Kuwaiti delegation on behalf of the Arab Group and the Palestinian Authority. The report’s final version calls for the Director-General to make recommendations for improving health conditions of Palestinian Palestinian Authority Arabs with focus on a number of areas including “incidents of delay or denial of ambulance service.”
There were several other instances in which the PA’s Ministry of Health included photographs with fallacious captions, as documented in the CAMERA report and the pro-Israel blog Isreallycool.
The caption in one picture describes a scenario in which “settlers attack a Palestinian child while being observed by Israeli occupation forces.” However, in the photograph, which was taken by a photographer for Agence France Presse and belongs to Getty Images, it is actually an Israeli child being pulled by Israeli security forces from Jewish residents of the Samarian outpost of Havat Gilad. There are no Arabs in the picture.
In another instance, a fictional image of a potential strike on Iranian nuclear facilities by an Israeli M-15 was described in the report as a photograph of an Israeli aerial attack on Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The mountainous background of the image, created by The Aviationist blog’s Al Clark, depicts a geographic region that contrasts with the flatlands of the Gaza Strip.
Neither the World Health Organization nor the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health returned TPS’s requests for comment on the apparently false information in the Palestinian Authority report. Ambassador Danon, for his part, remains hopeful and committed to fighting false charges by the Palestinian Authority and others in international organizations like WHO and the UN.