A 20-year-old Palestinian indicted on terror-related charges told Israeli investigators he was paid by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar to tell the media that his 8-month-old cousin died May 14 of tear gas inhalation, the Times of Israel reported.
The infant actually died from a genetic blood disorder, he told investigators.
How far did the story spread?
The story was widely circulated by the media and fueled harsh criticism of Israel’s role in Hamas-inspired violence along the Gaza border.
The New York Times reported the story "shot across the globe, providing an emotive focus for outrage at military tactics that Israel’s critics said were disproportionately violent.”
Mahmoud Omar and other members of Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, were arrested May 28 by the Israel Defense Forces, the Times of Israel reported.
Omar served as a lookout while two other members of his group planned to cut through a fence and enter into Israel, according to the report. Wire cutters, a bottle of gasoline and a video camera were found at the scene.
But their planned attack was thwarted by IDF fire. Omar and another accomplice were captured by Israeli forces and a third attacker was able to flee, the report states.
During questioning, Omar told investigators about the attack and his involvement in other terrorist-related activities.
He also said he was related to Layla Ghandour, the 8-month-old baby whose May 14 death was originally blamed on tear gas sprayed by Israeli forces at protesters along the Gaza border.
The story gained international visibility and became “one of the central elements of reporting on Palestinian opposition to the May 14 inauguration of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem,” the Times of Israel reported.
How did the baby actually die?
An indictment stated his mother informed him his baby cousin had died from a blood disease similar to one that claimed the life of the deceased infant’s brother. The latter baby died from the same condition at the same age in 2017.
According to The Times of Israel:
“Members of the family subsequently gave a series of interviews blaming Israel for Layla’s death. In an article published by AFP on May 15, for instance, the baby’s mother, Mariam al-Ghandour, said, ‘The Israelis killed her.’ The baby’s mother was not asked whether the baby had a preexisting medical condition, and the family indicated to the AFP reporter that she had been healthy.”