What Do Refugees Fleeing Syria Have to do with an Israeli Airstrike Last Week? Nothing.

February 6, 2013


Last week, Israel was reported to have conducted a rare airstrike inside Syria near the border of Lebanon that U.S. officials said targeted anti-aircraft weapons bound for the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.  Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, hinted Sunday that his country was responsible for the airstrike.

Israeli leaders, in the days leading up to the airstrike, had been publicly expressing concern that Syrian President Bashar Assad ‘s arsenal of conventional and non-conventional weapons would fall into the hands of terrorists, such as Hezbollah. The targeted convoy is said to have included sophisticated Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles.

An Associated Press report published in The Montreal Gazette on February 1 (“Syria Threatens Retaliation for Israeli Attack”) reported on Syria’s threatened retaliation for the Israeli airstrike.

Accompanying this report on Syria’s response was a photo of Syrian children carried by their parents seeking asylum. The caption read: “Syrian children are carried by their parents in a refugee camp Thursday in Jordan after Israel’s airstrike in Syria”.

Except that there is no evidence to suggest that that the targeted airstrike on the weapons convoy created refugees.  Rather, it is the fighting in Syria between the regime and the rebels that has brought waves of refugees across the border into Jordan — as many as 50,000 arrived in January, between 2,000 and 7,000 every day.

Indeed, the Toronto Star used this same photo to accompany an article on the exodus of Syria refugees on January 31 (“Middle Class Takes Flight”).

HRC contacted the editor at the Gazette with our concerns about this photo. The Gazette informed us they would acknowledge this editorial shortcoming the following day in the letters section of the Gazette. Here is that letter:

Indeed, The Gazette acknowledged that the photo and article were indeed unrelated and that the caption was poorly written. Which ultimately led to a misleading story. Regrettably, a formal correction was not included.


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