Gazan family allegedly paid by Hamas to blame infant’s death on IDF tear gas
MAHMUD HAMS (AFP)
Israel charged on Thursday that a Gazan resident convicted of vandalism had confessed during his interrogation that Hamas paid his family to claim the death of his infant cousin, Laila al-Ghandour. had been caused by tear gas used by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during a mass protest.
Israel’s Ministry of Justice said in a statement that Mahmoud Omar, a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs brigades, Fatah’s armed wing, was arrested for acts of vandalism against IDF equipment on May 28.
Amid interrogation with Israeli police, Omar claimed that the leader of the Islamist group, Yahya Sinwar, paid his family 8,000 NIS ($2,200) to lie about the cause of death, saying the eight-month-old had had a preexisting blood disease which was the actual cause, according to the ministry statement.
The baby had already been removed last week from the death toll of Palestinians killed in the recent months' clashes with Israeli soldiers, which currently stands at 133.
It had initially been claimed that the infant killed during the bloodiest day of the six-week-long “Great March of Return” protests on May 14 -- coinciding with the controversial US embassy move to Jerusalem -- where at least 60 Palestinians were said to have been shot by Israeli troops on this day alone.
According to initial reports by Gaza’s health ministry, the baby was brought -- in what her family later deemed a “mix-up” -- to one of the flashpoints where the clashes had broken out. Caught amid the unrest, Al-Ghandour was said to have been killed after Israel Defense Force (IDF) troops fired tear gas at the crowd in an attempt to disperse the protesters.
“Layla al-Ghandour is not listed among the martyrs, because we are still waiting for the report,” Dr. Ashraf Al-Qidra, director of public relations for the ministry, told The Guardian newspaper according to a Thursday report.
“The baby arrived to the hospital dead, and the family said she was there at the border and she inhaled tear gas,” he added. “It wasn’t clear in the beginning whether she died because of that or not. That’s why we referred the case.”
As the youngest fatality of those killed, Laila’s death intensified international condemnation of what was described as Israel “disproportionate” response to the seemingly peaceful protests. Images of her funeral were broadcast across global news channels and splashed on the front page of newspapers.
The day after her death on May 15, a medical doctor told Israeli daily Haaretz Tuesday that the child had a pre-existing medical condition, and that he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas.
The UK's Guardian newspaper stated in its initial hospital report that the infant had suffered with “heart defects since birth” and she had experienced a “severe stop in blood circulation and respiration.” The medical information made no mention of the tear gas or the contribution to the baby’s condition.
A New York Times report also stated that the baby was not healthy and said she suffered from “patent ductus arteriosus, a congenital heart disease commonly described as a hole in the heart.”
The IDF disputed the veracity of claims made by Palestinian medical officials and stated that they had “evidence that undermines the credibility of the Palestinian Ministry of Health’s announcement regarding the death of the baby.”
The IDF Spokesperson stated that testimonies collected by the IDF provide evidence that the Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health was not being forthcoming about the child’s death.
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a shame to the world that can believe the lies of Gaza Hamas and Abbas