Canadian Media Issue Clarifications: Israel Says Palestinian Boy Killed by Palestinian Ordnance

Toronto Star, AFP, & Radio-Canada relied on claims by unnamed Palestinian witnesses asserting that an Israeli artillery shell killed a six-year-old Palestinian boy. Despite Israel’s contention that the boy was killed by Palestinian ordnance, these news outlets failed to report that Israel denied responsibility for this incident.


Canadian Media Issue Clarifications: Israel Says Palestinian Boy Killed by Palestinian Ordnance

By: Mike Fegelman, Executive Director

Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscribers,

Why are our media so willing to accept claims made by unreliable Palestinian “eye-witnesses and experts”? Our journalists unquestioningly report their allegations at face-value, instead of doing thorough investigative reporting, exercising due diligence, and featuring competing claims when applicable. recently reported that Palestinian medical sources claimed that a two-year old Palestinian girl had been killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza, a charge which the Israel Defence Forces vehemently denied and which Hamas eventually conceded was due to the misfiring of a Palestinian rocket.

Last week, we bore witness to a similar unsubstantiated claim perpetuated by unnamed Palestinian witnesses, only in this instance, Israel was accused of killing a six-year-old Palestinian boy with artillery fire.

The Toronto Star,, and Agence France-Presse (AFP) all reported this claim without including Israel’s denial of responsibility for the incident. Israel’s Defense Forces asserted there were no military efforts in the area, and claimed the child died as a result of an explosion caused by Palestinian ordnance.

The Toronto Star reproduced a New York Times article in its June 24 print edition which reported that: “… in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, witnesses said, an Israeli artillery shell killed Ali al-Shawaf, 6, and wounded his father, who died later in the day.”

Importantly, the original New York Times news article had properly acknowledged that this incident was the subject of dispute. The Times reported that: “…witnesses said, an Israeli artillery shell killed Ali al-Shawaf, 6, and wounded his father in the Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis… ‘The boy and his father were sitting on the street outside a soccer court when the shells landed,’ said Ahmed Arafat, 20, a resident of the Abassan neighborhood, where the shelling took place. Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich of the Israeli military said on Twitter that the boy had died in an explosion of Palestinian ordnance.” Although the Times article brought forward accounts of the conflicting narratives, it unfortunately reported as fact that a “shelling took place”. The Globe and Mail also reported these duelling claims fairly, but a June 23 articlefailed to take into account Israel’s denial of responsibility for the death of this Palestinian boy.

On June 23, AFP egregiously claimed on its newswire headline distributed to the world’s media that “Un enfant palestinien tué dans un raid israélien dans la bande de Gaza” (“A Palestinian Child Killed in an Israeli Raid in Gaza”.) The headline was published despite an admission in the article that Israel did not confirm the raid. Though AFP was unsure of the facts, they nevertheless made the charge. Nor did AFP correct this claim. Instead, subsequent newswires included Israel’s denial of involvement, but the next day in a wire entitled: “Gaza: the cycle of violence since 2011”, AFP inexplicably listed the Palestinian boy as a casualty of an Israeli air raid.

Given the seriousness of these errors, HonestReporting Canada contacted all three news outlets calling for corrective action to be taken.

On June 26, the Toronto Star commendably issued the following clarification to atone for its mistakes:

While well intentioned in the issuance of this corrective notice, this Star clarification failed to atone for this newspaper falsely reporting that the father of the six-year-old Palestinian boy had “died” and was not just wounded, again allegedly by Palestinian ordnance. Likewise, also amended its online article which now reports that Israel denies any responsibility for this incident.

As to AFP, despite our persistence, the global wire service has yet to set the record straight despite publishing a headline without evidence claiming that “A Palestinian Child Killed in an Israeli Raid in Gaza”. We will continue to encourage AFP to retract this allegation.

Instead of rushing to judgement and relying on unverified eyewitness testimonies, our media should seek independent verification to prevent false reporting. In so doing, the unvarnished truth would be disseminated wide and far, instead of perpetuating tarnished libels.




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