As noted here previously, in the May 15th edition of BBC One’s ‘BBC Breakfast’, presenter Louise Minchin claimed that a baby was among those killed the previous day during violent rioting along the Gaza Strip-Israel border.
Minchin: “Fifty-eight people have been killed. We understand that some of them were children, including a baby. Is this not excessive force?”
In a filmed report aired on domestic and international BBC television news programmes and posted on the BBC News website on May 16th, the BBC’s Middle East editor promoted the same claim.
Bowen: “Poverty and grief breed anger. And so do the deaths of children. A family gathered for another funeral. It was for Layla al Ghandour who was eight months old.”
Jeremy Bowen’s report was also embedded into an article titled “Gaza violence: Israelis and Palestinians in fierce exchanges at UN” that was published on the BBC News website on May 15th.
The last picture featured in a photo essay published on the BBC News website’s ‘In Pictures’ page on May 15th was an image taken by Reuters photographer Mohammed Salem relating to the same story which was originally captioned:
“The mother of 8-month-old Palestinian infant Laila al-Ghandour, who died after inhaling tear gas during a protest against U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem at the Israel-Gaza border, mourns during her funeral in Gaza City, May 15,2018.”
The same image was used to illustrate the webpage of an edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ on May 15th.
A report titled “Gaza begins to bury its dead after deadliest day in years” that appeared on the BBC News website on May 15th includes the following:
Similar images appear in a report by BBC Hindi aired on May 15th and still available online.
It is therefore more than likely that BBC audiences will have received the impression that Israel was responsible for the death of an eight month-old baby on May 15th. However, as noted here on May 16th, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry’s claim that the baby had died from tear-gas inhalation was soon called into question.
BBC Watch contacted ‘BBC Breakfast’ with a request for on-air clarification of the fact that the cause of the baby’s death is as yet unclear but, beyond acknowledgement of receipt of the e-mail, has not received a reply.
On May 25th it was reported that:
“Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said an 8-month-old girl has been taken off a list of Palestinians killed in border clashes with Israeli troops last week, while authorities await results of a pathologist’s report.
Layla al-Ghandour had originally been listed among the 60 Palestinians killed during massive border protests on the Gaza fence on May 14. The infant’s death intensified condemnation of Israel over the violence, though the health ministry has since signaled the child may not have been killed from tear gas inhalation but rather because of a pre-existing condition.”
“Leila’s family has blamed the Israeli army for her death. The New York Times cited the family as saying the child suffered from patent ductus arteriosus, a congenital heart disease.
A copy of an initial hospital report seen by the Guardian said the infant had heart defects since birth and suffered a “severe stop in blood circulation and respiration”. It did not say if teargas inhalation had contributed to her death.”
However, as we see above, there is still plenty of BBC material available online which leads audiences to believe that Israel is responsible for the baby’s death and to date the BBC has failed to clarify to its audiences that the claim it widely promoted has been called into question.