Reporters of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours know full well the impact of footage of innocent children caught up in war can have to elicit sympathy for one side. After all, it was the graphic vision of the death of young Mohammed Al-Dura at the outset of the Second Palestinian intifada that not only enflamed the Muslim world but garnered much international sympathy for the Palestinians and hatred towards the Israelis. The rage continued even when it became clear that it was unlikely that the Israeli army was not responsible for the death and in that respect, the media also played its role by ignoring the truth.
This scenario has played itself out on numerous occasions and last year we saw photographs of eleven year olds A’hd Tamimi, and her cousin Marah Tamimi on the front pages of Fairfax media outlets alongside an article charging the Israeli army with the routine abuse of Palestinian children. A caption in the Age said "An Israeli soldier restrains a Palestinian girl crying over the arrest of her mother during a protest over land confiscation in al-Nabi Saleh." It turned out that the two were children of well know Palestinian activists and were being used as props in a campaign against Israel, encouraged by their parents to be exactly where they were. They were being put in harm's way in a cynical attempt to garner international sympathy for the cause of delegitimising Israel.
Despite being caught with its pants down, Fairfax Media persisted. During Israel’s recent war with Hamas, its now Palestinian based reporter Ruth Pollard reported as follows in Hopes of truce fail as Israel and Hamas remain defiant
The devastated family of the BBC journalist Jihad Misharawi mourned the death of his 11-month-old son Omar, killed along with his sister-in-law when an Israeli mortar shell crashed through their house as the attacks escalated on Thursday.As it happens this has been proven to be yet another lie in the campaign against Israel – UN clears Israel of charge it killed baby in Gaza. Human Rights Watch blamed Israel without the slighest amount of investigation into the incident. It now turns out that it wasn't an Israeli mortar shell at all but an errant Hamas missile.
But don't hold your breath waiting for an apology from Pollard or HRW.