Gaza Video Supplier Responds

This is an email sent to us by Paul Martin, who supplied Western media with that Gaza hospital video. Martin demands an apology from bloggers, and insists that we have no reason to be suspicious of video footage that comes from a Hamas-linked photographer and a radical Marxist doctor. We created an LGF account for him to post comments, but he apparently decided not to jump into the pool with the lizard army.

In the email, all eight paragraphs are in bold text; I’ll spare you that.

WORLD NEWS & FEATURES, which has been operating in zones of conflict since 2001, is responsible for the supply of video material to a number of major television stations during this Gaza conflict, and we are very careful to ensure we work only with people we know and trust in the Gaza Strip. Ashraf Mashharawi is probably the most respected independent producer in the Gaza Strip. We have worked with him, and with his late brother Ahmed, an excellent cameraman, on and off there for at least five years, and throughout the Mashharawis have been fair and accurate. We would expect even the most objective Western journalist to be somewhat upset when he has to carry his own 12-year-old brother to hospital, fatally wounded by a rocket while playing on the roof of his own home. No-one in their right mind would suggest that any person would allow doctors to play games with a dying or dead younger brother. The idea is bizarre and deeply insulting, and actually damages the credibility of your blogger’s scrutiny of TV output in general - a scrutiny which in principle we would strongly applaud.

The tape was fed to London and used by several outlets, without WNF itself actually having the facility to watch it beforehand. But having now done so we continue to stand by the complete genuineness of the footage. What is shown is just the very final stage of doctors’ failed efforts to save Mahmoud. I suppose the reason their effort as shown is so gentle is that they have already in effect concluded that it is futile. And I think your blogger’s understanding of TV is somewhat flawed in this respect: no-one would need to ‘dramatize’ any such death, gently or vigorously. The death itself and the fact that Ashraf’s cameraman had filmed all the PREVIOUS events, and the subsequent return to the home with the body, and the funeral, would have been dramatic enough… in fact the hospital post-death concluding effort by the doctor(s) in no way enhanced the power of the filming - if anything it weakened it… just a body lying there and Ashraf mourning over his dead brother’s lifeless corpse would have been more powerful.

So there is absolutely no reason to suspect this doctor was playing to the camera - let alone that Ashraf would have asked him to do so. The hospital has confirmed that Mahmoud Mashharawi, aged 12, was brought in still breathing but subsequently was pronounced dead. There is therefore not the slightest indication of any faking.

I think a decent apology to Ashraf might be in order.

I might also add that trying to suggest Ashraf has some political agenda is also a false trail. He does not. He was (but is no longer) employed by a company that produced the .ps suffix, and just as anyone can sign up for a .com or a .info or a.tv suffix on payment of a small fee, so can anyone buy a .ps suffix - even Little Green Footballs. All Palestinians like the .ps suffix so anyone can sign up, including affiliates of Hamas. So what WNF has also used this company’s services, because it has a big US-based server that can contain a lot of video, and it is quite cheap! We are happy with this web hosting service - which has no influence at all on our editorial output - we can switch to any commercial provider whenever we wish. The fact that we have had both a personal and a commercial relationship with Ashraf Mashharawi is one good reason why we are relying ONLY on his services during this current conflict while I myself and our other people cannot enter Gaza itself. We have other Palestinians offering to work for us there but have turned all of them down so we can rely only on someone about whose integrity we have certainty.

Finally, an attempt was made by one of your bloggers to show that one of the doctors wanted to make a film with Ashraf. His brother, who died in a car crash, was hosted by a family in Norway and that is probably how he came to know about Ashraf’s production services. The idea that this somehow resulted in this same doctor and Ashraf acting out some faked scene over his dying or dead youngest brother is ludicrous and sickening. Ashraf’s father, who is a medical doctor too by the way, deserves better than to have the death of his child portrayed in any way other than the truth - Mahmoud died because a rocket hit him while he was playing on the roof of his apartment. It is a legitimate story for the media to cover.

I would however suggest that it is vital for the media also to cover why such events occur, and to give balanced and fair overall coverage. Some filmed reports may show one aspect of the complex events, while another should show another side. For example, WNF is investigating whether unmanned drones have cameras which produce only fuzzy pictures and therefore cannot or did not distinguish whether figures moving on a roof are fighter or just kids. That may well be the case. WNF is proud to be a very independent producer of news and current affairs from ALL sides of a conflict. Presently I am in Israel filming with the Israeli medical teams who go to the sites of rocket attacks, for example.

Finally, we welcome and encourage and salute scrutiny of the media, but we urge bloggers first to think before they leap to the keyboard, and then to be moderate and considerate, especially when alleging things that will be hurtful to other human beings. Anyone with further queries (or apologies) is welcome to contact me on worldnf@gmail.com.

This point really strikes me:

The tape was fed to London and used by several outlets, without WNF itself actually having the facility to watch it beforehand.

So the supplier of video from a war zone governed by a terrorist organization did not even look at it before it was sold to and used by Western sources? Wow. And we wonder why there’s so much Hamas propaganda in the media.

The most important question, though, and the one that started this whole controversy, is whether the “CPR” shown in the video is genuine, or whether it was cynical propaganda — a fake “resuscitation” attempt. This is Martin’s explanation:

What is shown is just the very final stage of doctors’ failed efforts to save Mahmoud. I suppose the reason their effort as shown is so gentle is that they have already in effect concluded that it is futile.

I’ll let the doctors among us weigh in on this, but it seems ridiculous beyond belief to say that once you’ve decided a patient is dead, it’s a good idea to gently massage his abdomen with the tips of your fingers — and call it CPR.

There are other serious questions that have been raised about the video as well. This CNN article claims that the boy suffered shrapnel wounds in his head and all over his body:

Raafat Hamdouna, administrative director at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, said Friday that “Mahmoud Khalil Mashharawi, a 12-year-old, was brought to the hospital, and he was breathing, but he was hit in the head and all over his body by shrapnel.”

But in the video shown on Channel 4, we see the child’s head from several angles in several different scenes and there is absolutely no sign of wounds or blood. For example, this is the photo on that CNN page:

Given the background and the situation, it’s completely justified to suspect staging in videos such as this, and the terrorist groups who run Gaza have demonstrated over and over that they are willing and able to engage in it.

As I’ve written previously, the death of a child is a terrible thing — but groups like Hamas are not above using their own children to manipulate the feelings of Western audiences.

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