Amidst recent Palestinian violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank which has claimed the lives of four Israeli civilians over the course of three days, another story has been making the rounds – the claim that Israeli settlers shot a 6-year-old Palestinian boy in the town of Qalqilya. 

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Photo purportedly showing the boy after arriving at the hospital

However, the story was almost immediately revealed to be a hoax in, of all places, Haaretz.

Here’s their remarkably clear Oct. 3rd headline:

hoax

The Haaretz story begins:

A six-year-old Palestinian boy was shot in his stomach near the West Bank city of Qalqilya on Saturday. According to an Israeli investigation, the boy was playing with a gun when it misfired, injuring him.

Preliminary Palestinian reports said the boy was shot by an Israeli settler who drove by the village and fled after the shooting, but Palestinian sources said the family may have lied to protect the boy’s older brother, who was present at the incident, and in order to be recognized as victims of settler terrorism by the Palestinian Authority and receive a stipend.

The Israeli military vehemently denied any Israeli involvement in the incident, and detained the older brother for interrogation.

Haaretz continues, noting that even the father of the boy seemed suspicious of his son’s story:

According to Bian Al-Tabib, the boy’s father, 6-year-old Youssef was with his 18-year-old brother alongside the main road from their village of Izbet Tabib when the incident happened. He said the older brother told him that the young boy suddenly fell to the ground, bleeding profusely. When he looked up, he told him he saw a car with Israeli license plates speeding away. However, the father noted that there were no other witnesses to the event.

Haaretz concludes:

A military source who spoke to Haaretz said the incident was a result of “children playing with a gun.” The source blasted the claim that an Israeli settler was behind the shooting as “blatant lies, of the kind that endanger the stability.” 

Enter the Guardian.

Kate Shuttleworth, in a story published on Oct. 4th (a day after the Haaretz piece) about the two recent stabbings in Jerusalem by Palestinians which killed two Israelis, added the following “related news” towards the end of her report.

On Saturday a six-year-old Palestinian boy was shot in the stomach near the West Bank city of Qalqilya. Israeli forces allege the boy was playing with a gun when it misfired injuring him.

But Palestinian reports say the boy was shot by an Israeli settler who drove by the village and fled after the shooting.

Remarkably, what was dismissed by even Haaretz – and even ‘Palestinian sources’ – as a likely hoax was elevated by the Guardian reporter to a “he said, she said” narrative, giving equal weight to both accounts.

Though we’re of course all too used to such Pallywood-style Palestinian fabrications, serious media outlets have the responsibility to distinguish between such wild, unverified claims and those which may have merit.  Shuttleworth’s credulousness in the face of such a fanciful tale does a disservice to her readers and serves to inflame an increasingly volatile regional conflagration.