Israel's Jerusalem Post slammed after removing story saying Palestinian baby was doll

Israel's Jerusalem Post slammed after removing story saying Palestinian baby was doll
Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post has faced criticism after it removed an article claiming a Palestinian baby was a doll without fully admitting to this.
4 min read
05 December, 2023
Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post did not specify which article it had removed [GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty-file photo (2004)]

The Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post has been criticised after it expressed regret over an article, but without specifying which one.

Social media users said that the paper was likely referring to a piece published on Friday that claimed footage posted online by Al Jazeera did not really show a dead Palestinian baby, but rather a doll. 

The Jerusalem Post article was removed and appears to no longer be available on the paper's website.

A link found on Google by searching for the article's headline now redirects to the site's homepage, though the story has been saved on the Internet Archive.

"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 Israeli newspaper said on social media platform X on Saturday.

"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."

A post sharing the article on X, made by The Jerusalem Post on Friday, the day the Israeli weekend begins, is also no longer available. "Sorry, that post has been deleted," reads an error message displayed by the social media platform.

Al Jazeera said the boy in the footage it posted was aged one-and-a-half months. The official Palestinian news agency Wafa published pictures of the same child, identifying him as five-month-old Muhammad Hani al-Zahar.

Photojournalist Omar al-Dirawi took his own footage of the infant, which some social media users similarly claimed was of a doll. Al-Dirawi confirmed to The New Arab's partner fact-checking service Misbar that his video was of a dead child aged no older than five months.

Like Al Jazeera, he said the boy was killed after Israel struck an area near Gaza City. Wafa said Muhammad died in Israeli bombing in a different part of the strip.

The boy's mother told The New Arab's sister broadcaster Al Araby TV the neighbouring home was shelled by Israeli artillery and that she dashed outside with Muhammad. She believed he was still asleep but discovered after arriving at hospital that he was dead.

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Israel's indiscriminate military campaign in the Gaza Strip has so far killed almost 16,000 people, the majority women and children.

The Jerusalem Post's statement of regret met criticism from many X users. One said: "This is the most unprofessional retraction/correction I've seen since I started reading newspapers regularly almost 50 years ago."

Some users asked which story the Israeli outlet was referring to. Wajahat Ali, a columnist at news website The Daily Beast, said: "What article? Give the details please. The mistake and the correction. Are you an actual journalistic entity or just pure hasbara [propaganda]?

"If [the] latter, that's fine but just admit it then. There's a professional way to do it. Everyone makes mistakes but this is just pathetic and shameful."

Ali said that The Jerusalem Post was talking about the Palestinian baby article.

Another user wrote: "Maybe say what the article was, because this apology is pointless without it." The newspaper's statement did not use the words "sorry" or "apology".

Avi Mayer, The Jerusalem Post's editor-in chief, also replied to his paper's statement, saying the incident "should not have happened and I regret that it did". His post similarly did not specify which story he was talking about.

"This episode took place over Shabbat [the Jewish Sabbath], when I and many other Jerusalem Post staffers were offline," he said.

"We will get to the bottom of this and draw the necessary conclusions in order to ensure it never happens again."

X users added an annotation, known as a "community note", to The Jerusalem Post's statement, suggesting the remarks concerned the article about the baby.

The New Arab contacted The Jerusalem Post and Al Jazeera for comment but did not receive a response before publication.