Not for the first time, media outlets fall captive to false Palestinian propaganda about deaths in Israeli prisons, fueling baseless charges of medical neglect.
Covering yesterday’s death of cancer patient Nasser Abu Hmeid (also spelled Abu Hmaid or Abu Hamid), a convicted al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade arch-terrorist, Israeli and international media outlets erroneously published erroneous headlines alleging he had died in an Israeli jail, even as each of the media outlets did indeed elsewhere report that he died in a hospital. Following communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, Reuters has fully corrected and Haaretz has partially corrected, while The Jerusalem Post has yet to set the record straight.
Thus, Reuters’ headline yesterday erred, “Senior Palestinian militant dies of cancer in Israeli jail.” In fact, as the captions to the accompanying photograph rightly reported, Nasser Abu Hmeid “died in an Israeli hospital where he has been moved to after his health conditions deteriorated.” Abu Hamid died in Assaf Harofeh hospital, also called the Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center, a key fact reported at Al Jazeera, among other media outlets.
The distinction is important due to Palestinian charges that Abu Hmeid died from medical neglect.
As Reuters’ article reported:
Abbas accused Israel of neglecting Abu Hmaid’s medical needs and held it responsible for his death, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said. Israel’s Prisons Service said Abu Hmaid, 50, had received “close and continuous treatment” for his lung cancer.
The article’s initial failure to report that he did in fact die in the hospital is a significant omission.
To Reuters’ credit, the news organization quickly followed up on CAMERA’s communication, correcting the headline and adding information about the hospital within the article itself. Thus, the amended headline now accurately reads: “Senior Palestinian militant jailed by Israel dies of cancer.” In addition, editors commendably appended the following note to the bottom of the article alerting readers to the change:
(This Dec. 20 story has been corrected to remove reference to the Palestinian militant dying in an Israeli jail in the headline)
Editors also added the following information to the article: “After Abu Hmaid’s health condition deteriorated, the Prisons Service moved him to a hospital outside the jail … “
Notably, the Hebrew counterparts (here and here) of these headlines do not state that Abu Hamid died in prison.
In response to communication from CAMERA, editors corrected today’s headline, which now accurately states: “Israel Refuses to Hand Over Body of Palestinian Who Died of Cancer.” As of this writing, editors have yet to correct the second Haaretz headline.
The Jerusalem Post rightly reported in the second paragraph that Abu Hmeid “died while hospitalized at Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center,” contradicting the erroneous claim in the opening paragraph that he died in “an Israeli prison hospital.” Asaf Harofeh/Shamir Medical Center is a normal hospital serving the general population, as any Israel resident, especially one writing for a local newspaper, ought to know. It is in no way a “prison hospital.”
Update 11:50 am EST: Jerusalem Post Corrects
Following the publication of this post, The Jerusalem Post corrected as well. The corrected headline states: "Ramallah lynch participant dies as Israeli prisoner, PA claims wrongdoing." In addition, editors removed the inaccurate claim in the first paragraph that Abu Hmeid died in "an Israeli prison hospital." The paragraph now reports that he "died as an Israeli prisoner while undergoing treatment under guard in a hospital."