Jerusalem Post pulls article claiming dead Palestinian baby was a doll

YuryKara/ShutterStock (Licensed)

Israeli news site accuses Arab media of using photo of doll to fake Palestinian baby’s death

'They won’t say which article because what they did is so abhorrent.'

 

Mikael Thalen

Tech

Posted on Dec 4, 2023

The Jerusalem Post deleted an article from its website over the weekend that falsely claimed a dead Palestinian baby was actually a doll.

The allegations first arose on Friday after video and photos of the child began spreading across social media. Prominent users on X, primarily among the far-right, proclaimed that the infant, identified as five-month-old Muhammad Hani Al-Zahar, wasn’t real.

“Video from Gaza shows a Palestinian man showing a plastic baby doll toy that had been ‘killed’ in an air strike,” the user Oli London wrote. “The man has a microphone attached to his clothes with the wire clearly visible in the staged video.”

Yet the baby was real. BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh noted that the baby’s appearance had likely been affected by rigor mortis.

Photojournalist Ali Jadallah, who captured images of the deceased child, also pushed back on the claims in remarks on Instagram.

“No, he is not a doll,” the photographer wrote. “He is a human that was killed by Israeli airstrikes.”

But despite the debunking, the claim was soon picked up and amplified by the Jerusalem Post.

In a post on X, the newspaper suggested that the Arab media outlet Al Jazeera had deceptively blurred the child’s face in order to conceal that it was fake.

“Al Jazeera posts blurred doll, claims it to be a dead Palestinian baby,” an archived version of the headline read.

After significant pushback, the Jerusalem Post quietly deleted the article from its site. Some time later, the news organization issued a vague retraction on X.

“Over the weekend, we shared an article based on faulty sourcing. The article in question did not meet our editorial standards and was thus removed,” the outlet wrote. “We take this matter seriously and will be handling it internally in order to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring. We regret this incident and remain committed to upholding the highest journalistic standards at all times.”

The apparent refusal from the Jerusalem Post to cite the article by name was met with anger by many online, who accused the newspaper of spreading dangerous and dehumanizing conspiracy theories.

“They won’t say which article because what they did is so abhorrent,” another user said. “They posted a photo of a grieving man holding the corpse of a Palestinian baby murdered by the Israeli military, and claimed that it wasn’t a real baby but a doll.”

The conspiracy theory labeling dead Palestinians as fake is not new. Other posts making similar allegations have garnered millions of views online.

One such post, which claimed without evidence that Hamas had imported hundreds of lifelike dolls from China, was removed by X over the weekend. Countless other claims, however, remain online.

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*First Published: Dec 4, 2023, 7:55 am CST