LA Times Refuses To Substantiate, Retract Toxic Charge that IDF Snipers Targeted Kids

As of this writing, The Los Angeles Times continues to refuse to either substantiate or retract a spurious charge that Israeli snipers in the Gaza Strip targeted several young Palestinian children, shooting them in the head.

In his Feb. 16 Op-Ed, “I’m an American doctor who went to Gaza. What I saw wasn’t war – it was annihilation,” Irfan Galaria made the very alarming accusation that Israel Defence Forces snipers targeted multiple small children in Khan Younis, fatally shooting them in the head. Galaria, an American doctor who volunteered in the European Hospital in Khan Yunis, alleged:

On one occasion, a handful of children, all about ages 5 to 8, were carried to the emergency room by their parents. All had single sniper shots to the head. These families were returning to their homes in Khan Yunis, about 2.5 miles away from the hospital, after Israeli tanks had withdrawn. But the snipers apparently stayed behind. None of these children survived.

Given that this is such an egregious, serious charge which has not been independently confirmed, CAMERA turned to the Spokesmen Unit of the Israel Defense Forces for a response, a routine step which The Los Angeles Times did not take before publishing the Op-Ed, with its vitriolic charges of “annihilation.”

In response to Galaria’s charge that IDF snipers targeted small children, the IDF wrote to this CAMERA researcher:

In response to Hamas’ barbaric attacks, the IDF is operating to dismantle Hamas military and administrative capabilities.

In stark contrast to Hamas’ intentional attacks on Israeli men, women and children, the IDF follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm. The claims made have no factual basis and as such should be disregarded.

In light of the severity of Galaria’s accusation, and the IDF’s categorical denial, CAMERA urged The Los Angeles Times to provide details about the alleged shooting incidents so that the highly questionable claim can be fully fact-checked. CAMERA requested the date, time and exact location of the alleged shootings, in addition to the names and ages of the alleged victims. CAMERA also inquired whether The Times could produce medical records or other evidence available to substantiate the account, or could otherwise point our researchers to any other credible sources to independently verify Galaria’s very serious accusation that Israeli snipers killed the children.

In response to CAMERA’s request for substantiation, The Los Angeles Times wrote:

Dr. Irfan Galaria’s Op-Ed is commentary based on his experience as a volunteer doctor in Gaza.  Dr. Galaria’s account of what he saw and the description of medical cases that he and other doctors treated at the European Hospital over 10 days starting Jan. 29 are credible in our review. The single gunshot wounds he described have been corroborated by other doctors working with him.  The presence of sniper fire, and the wounding and killing of Gazans by such fire, has been reported in multiple sources. 

There is no doubt that Israeli snipers are active in Gaza, firing on Hamas members who murdered Israeli civilians on Oct. 7 or who pose a threat to Israeli soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip. About that there is no dispute.

But The Times is either unwilling or unable to point to any credible source for Dr. Galaria’s egregious charge that Israeli snipers fired on multiple small children, ages five to eight, who posed no threat. The fact that Dr. Galaria and unnamed others said they saw children brought to the hospital with gunshot wounds to the head does not prove that Israeli snipers fired on the children. The doctors do not claim to have seen the shooting incident take place or Israeli snipers firing on children.

In addition, Dr. Galaria has not cited any forensic evidence indicating that Israeli snipers are responsible for these reported killings. Since when does the mere presence of a body without any forensic evidence indicate the identity of the shooter?

Moreover, there are multiple accounts of Hamas fighters shooting Gaza civilians. Given that The Los Angeles Times cannot cite any credible witnesses of the actual shootings of the children or provide any evidence indicating Israeli responsibility for the purported killings, the media watchdog organization reiterates its request for a clarification indicating that The Times was not able to independently verify Dr. Galaria’s claim.

That the paper cannot or will not substantiate a toxic charge redolent of an age-old bigoted trope demonizing Jews as child killers is particularly troubling in this period of unprecedented antisemitism in the United States, an alarming period of violence which included the fatal assault of a Jewish man at an anti-Israel protest in a suburb of Los Angeles. 

The financially floundering Los Angeles Times syndicated Galaria’s Op-Ed via Tribune Content Agency, endowing the egregious charges with an even broader audience. In addition to appearing in numerous newspapers, Galaria’s incendiary “annihilation” accusations earned him a platform on CNN, where correspondent Michael Holmes praised what he called the “incredibly powerful piece in The Los Angeles Times.”

Comments are closed.