Dear DARA member,
For the past few months DARA has been collaborating with Camera’s new Health Care Group whose mission gels well with our own. This collaboration gives each of us a greater reach and thus a greater influence.
Below please see a communication from Camera Health Care Group with a request for as many of us as possible to respond.
Kind regards,
Leon Kadish
for the DARA Board of Directors

The Misrepresentation of a Professional Health Group

The media frequently gets the facts wrong when reporting about hostilities between Gaza and Israel, in large part because of its reliance on “Gaza health ministry officials.” These officials are cited to lend credence to reports of Palestinian pregnant women, infants and other innocents killed by Israeli fire that are later proven false.  And although media outlets have been held to account by CAMERA and forced to retract, many continue to rely on the falsehoods disseminated by what are, in reality, Hamas terrorists and propagandists hiding behind the mask of medical professionals.

IN DETAIL: The latest example of misinformation from the dubious source of Gaza Health Ministry officials is the mainstream media’s reporting of a pregnant woman and a 4-month old baby, reported variously as mother/child or aunt/niece, who were killed in an Israeli airstrike response to the latest round of Hamas rocketing. The Gaza Health Ministry released that information on Saturday, May 4th.

An initial dispatch from the Associated Press dutifully reported that:

Gaza’s health ministry says a Palestinian infant has been killed in an Israeli airstrike. Seba Abu Arar, 14 months, died immediately Saturday and her pregnant mother was seriously wounded, the ministry said. Another child was moderately injured…The airstrike happened in east Gaza City, the ministry said, as Israel continued its aerial offensive in response to rockets that Gaza militants have fired throughout the day toward southern Israel.

The Arabic-language spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, Major Avichay Adraee, almost immediately denied Israeli responsibility for those deaths in a tweet. He wrote:

“More and more indications reach us from the Gaza Strip that cast serious doubt on the credibility of the statement from Hamas’s Ministry of health about the circumstances of the death of the infant Saba Mahmoud Abu Arar  and her mother Falastin Saleh Abu Arar. According to these indications, the death was caused by terrorist activities by Palestinian terrorists and not an Israeli strike.” (Translation from the original Arabic)

Nonetheless, an article the following day by the AP’s Fares Akram contained the same misinformation as the original report:

Gaza’s Health Ministry said a 14-month-old girl, Seba Abu Arar, was killed in an Israeli airstrike that hit their home in east Gaza City. Her pregnant mother, 37, was severely wounded and died later at the hospital, the ministry added. Another child was moderately injured.

While a subsequent AP story included both the claim by the Gaza Health Ministry and the IDF denial, it gave them equal weight;

Late Saturday, the Palestinians said a 37-year-old pregnant woman and her 14-month-old niece were killed in an Israeli airstrike. The army denied involvement, saying they were killed by an errant Palestinian rocket. There was no way to reconcile the claims.

In fact, the IDF denial was later corroborated by the Palestinian terror group, Islamic Jihad, which admitted that one of their “rockets of resistance exploded inside the family’s home due to a technical failure, and prematurely exploded. There is a claim that the technical failure was caused by low-grade explosives in the rocket…There is no doubt that the baby’s death has nothing to do with the enemy’s (Israel’s) planes…” (For full story, see here.)

AP has not issued a  correction to these wire stories although, after communication with CAMERA, it did amend several photo captions about the baby’s funeral to include the IDF denial of responsibility for her death. (See here.)

Similarly, the New York Times‘ Isabel Kershner reported in an article that appeared in print on May 5, 2019 that

Four Palestinians — including one militant, another man, a pregnant woman and her young daughter — were killed in Israeli strikes on Saturday, according to Gaza Health Ministry officials….

…Gaza’s Health Ministry identified the dead woman as Filisteen Abu Arar, 37, and her daughter as Sebba Abu Arar, 14 months. The ministry said that they were killed in an Israeli strike against a military facility near their home in eastern Gaza City, and that the child’s older sister was among several injured.

The web version of that article subsequently added the denial from the Israeli military, but the print version was left as it was, without any correction or clarification.

Journalists should not credulously convey, or at the very least not lend the prestige of medical professionals, to claims coming from the Gaza Health Ministry, which is an arm of the Hamas terrorist organization.  After all, this is not the first time their claims have been proven false and not the first time the same media outlets were forced to retract. Below are just a few of the many examples of false claims by the ministry that were relayed by mainstream media outlets:

1)      In May 2018, the Gaza Ministry of Health announced that Laila Anwar al-Ghandour, an eight-month-old baby girl, died of tear-gas inhalation – a story dutifully conveyed by numerous media outlets. The baby was touted by Palestinian propagandists (like Yousef Mounayyer who is frequently featured in the New York Times) as “a victim of Israel’s brutal repression against Palestinians.” 
The IDF refuted that tear gas was responsible for Laila’s death, relying on an unnamed Gaza physician who said a pre-existing heart disorder was to blame for Laila’s death. The New York Times then reported that Laila suffered from patent ductus arteriosus, as did her brother who had died at a similar age the previous year. The Hamas health ministry spokesman announced that the ministry would refer   the case to the forensic medicine department and removed Laila from its list of Israeli victims.

It later emerged that the family was paid 8000 shekels to blame the death of the baby on Israeli tear gas.

2) In September 2018, the Gaza Health Ministry announced that an 11-year-old Palestinian boy was hit by Israeli fire and died from head wounds. The AP initially transmitted the information without comment. On the same day, IDF Arabic spokesman Avichay Adraee raised doubts about the Ministry of Health account, tweeting at the Ministry of Health’s spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra:

“Once again, there are mounting questions about the credibility of the statement issued by Hamas’s Ministry of Health regarding the death of the boy Shady Abdel-al during the March of Return. According to the indications and testimonies, the boy was killed as a result of an injury caused by a rock being thrown at the time of the violent actions of riot. Does Ashraf al-Qudra have anything to say in response?”  (Translation from Arabic)

After several news agencies reported the dispute about the circumstances of the boy’s death, the Hamas health ministry backtracked on its original claim. (Read about it here.)

3) In September 2016,  Hamas Ministry of Health spokesman Ahsraf al-Qudra claimed that a 16-year-old Palestinian boy “was killed by an Israeli bullet to the head” during a border clash in the central Gaza Strip.  Following a review of the circumstances, the IDF issued a denial, stating that:

“Dozens of rioters breached the buffer zone and attempted to damage the security (border) fence. … Forces stationed at the border used tear gas that led to the dispersal of the riot. Following a preliminary review, the Israel Defense Forces did not conduct the reported shooting.”

(See here.)

Action Items:

A) Write to Middle East Editor Herbert Buchsbaum at  and Corrections Editor Rogene Jacquette at to ask for a printed correction about the circumstances of the deaths of Saba and Falestin Abu Arar, particularly since Islamic Jihad has corroborated the IDF denial.   Although online stories do include the IDF denial, a  correction/clarification to the orginial print story should also be published and appended to all database versions of the erroneous stories.

B) Write to the  AP’s Jerusalem bureau chief Josef Federman ( to ask why they  continue to cite the Gaza Health Ministry as a credible source and  lend the prestige of health professionals to claims from what has been shown to be a propaganda arm of the Hamas terrorist organization whose claims have been repeatedly proven unreliable.

C) Write a letter-to-the-editor for publication in the New York Times (, as well as proactive letters in publications where the Gaza Health Ministry is quoted as a credible source, pointing out how reports about hostilities between terrorists from Gaza and Israel’s defense forces are distorted by citing facts and figures by a Hamas propaganda arm that is given credence as representatives of the medical profession.
D). Please send, forward or bcc copies of your letters to

With thanks,