Channel 4 News promotes Al Jazeera’s ‘war on Gazan children’ propaganda

A Channel 4 News report (Israel Hamas war: the sick and desperate children stuck in Gaza ) by foreign correspondent Secunder Kermani includes video of a sick, emaciated eight-year-old Palestinian girl who died recently in Gaza.  Those considering watching it should know that the images in question (which begin 23 seconds into the video) are disturbing.  The suffering or death of children during wartime, be they Israeli or Palestinian, is especially tragic, and should never be minimised.

However, our focus is on the unevidenced suggestion made by the Channel 4 News presenter during the broadcast that the girl, Hanan Al-Zaanin, died due to starvation related to Israel’s ‘restrictions on aid’.

Origins of the claim:

The initial story claiming that Al-Zaanin died in Gaza due to starvation was published by Al Jazeera.  In fact, the short footage of Al-Zaanin shown to Channel 4 News viewers appears to be spliced from a report at Qatar’s Al Jazeera. Yet, viewers aren’t told that the story – including the relevant video footage – comes from the Qatari outlet.

The Al Jazeera report in question is by Hind Al Khoudary, who, as we’ve noted previously, is a freelancer at the Qatari outlet, as well as at Turkish state-run Andalou Agency.  Khoudary, who was one of the presenters in a Channel 4 Dispatches report (Kill Zone; Inside Gaza), has a record of glorifying terrorism on social media. She’s also remembered for her involvement in the arrests by Hamas of several activists – including a journalist – in Gaza four years ago. The Palestinian activists were denounced to Hamas in a series of vituperative Facebook posts by Khoudary.  Hours later, Hamas arrested them for the crime of pursuing “normalization” with Israelis.”

In addition, Khoudary works for the ‘We Are Not Numbers’ project run by the Hamas-linked NGO EuroMed Human Rights Monitor (EMHRM). In fact, the Chairman of EMHRM, Ramzy Abdul, who’s among the extremist activists who’ve shared the Al Jazeera video report of Al-Zaanin’s death, was found to have posted a literal antisemitic blood libel – writing on X that “Israeli has an insatiable appetite for the blood of Palestinian children”, before deleting the post.

We weren’t able to find any other mainstream media outlet which reported on the Palestinian girls’ death – not even the Guardian.

The merits of the claim

Though we weren’t able to gather any specific information on the girl or her death from reliable sources, it’s relevant to note a similar claim made earlier in the year involving an emaciated 10-year-old boy in Gaza named Yazan Kafarne.

Though images on social media suggested that Kafarne’s horrifying physical condition was the result of starvation, due to putative Israeli restrictions in aid, even a NY Times article featuring Kafarne acknowledged that he had a pre-existing condition, cerebral palsy. That disease can cause malnutrition because it “affects the muscles and movements involved in chewing, swallowing, and eating and can cause gastrointestinal issues”.  Other symptoms include accelerated musculoskeletal aging, accompanied by severe muscle atrophy.

In fact, the BBC was forced to correct an article published last week which – as detailed by David Collier – that omitted the fact that an emaciated and critically ill nine-year-old boy in Gaza, Yunis Jumaa, had spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, a serious pre-existing condition that caused his sickness. The BBC initially suggested that the boy’s illness was famine-related, and that he previously was healthy and had no pre-existing conditions.

Here’s the editor’s note which added to that story admitting the error:

Amended: This story originally reported on the health of Yunis Jumaa while including quotes which could be taken by readers to suggest that he has no pre-existing health conditions. The article has been updated to reflect that Yunis has cerebral palsy, which the BBC was unaware of at the time of publication, and to explain that children with pre-existing conditions are especially hard hit by malnutrition and contaminated water.

Though we don’t know for sure if the girl in the Channel 4 News report had such a pre-existing condition, it is notable that his mother, who appeared in the video, seems healthy, and clearly isn’t suffering from malnutrition.

The broader ‘starvation’ narrative

The context provided by the Channel 4 News presenter to advance the desired take-away that Israel is responsible for the girl’s death, was his allegation during the broadcast that “starvation” is extremely common in Gaza.  This claim was given credibility in the mainstream media following a March report by  Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) alleging that famine was imminent and likely to occur by May in northern Gaza, and by July in other parts of the Strip.

However, as noted on these pages recently, the March IPC report has been contradicted by multiple studies and reports.

COGAT’s response to that report concluded that “the report contains multiple factual and methodological flaws, some of them serious”, and later provided further details on the flaws in the methodology.

In May, Israel’s Ministry of Health published a review of the IPC report from March which includes the following:

“On page 4, the [IPC] report claims that “in January 2024, only nine humanitarian missions to the northern governorates were facilitated, dropping to six missions in February.” The OCHA report which is the source of this information states that it pertains only to missions by “the UN and its humanitarian partners”, while more than half of the aid shipments to northern Gaza since the beginning of 2024 were conducted by private sector actors, which are not counted by OCHA.”

In early June, media outlets including Times of Israel and the Wall Street Journal reported on a study carried out by a group of Israeli academics and public health professionals.

“The study analyzed airdrops and food shipments delivered by land from January through April 2024, based on shipping details provided by international donors and recorded by Cogat, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. These records list the shipment date, consignee, weight and contents of trucks entering Gaza and include aid delivered from multiple sources such as national and private donations. Unrwa lists only U.N. aid through Kerem Shalom and Rafah, the latter now closed by Egypt, ignoring other crossings. In May, Cogat lists 6,335 trucks, OCHA counts 2,797 and Unrwa 1,656. Adding private-sector trucks to the OCHA figure brings the total above 6,000, close to Cogat’s count.

The study revealed that the supply provided an average of 3,374 calories per person daily, well above the 2,100 recommended by the Sphere humanitarian movement as the minimum standard. It also confirms the daily availability of 101 grams of protein and 80.6 grams of fat per person, in compliance with the standards.”

Finally, just last week, the IPC published a report titled “Famine Review Committee: Review of the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) IPC-Compatible Analysis for the Northern Governorates of the Gaza Strip”. As noted by commentators, that report concludes that the FEWS NET analysis published in March is not plausible and points out the omission of certain categories of food deliveries.

“The FEWS NET food availability analysis excludes the contribution of commercial and/or privately contracted deliveries, potentially between 1,820 with metric tons (MT) of food (low estimate) and 3,850 MT of food (high estimate) in the month of March and about 2,405 MT of food (low estimate) and 4,004 MT of food (high estimate) in the month of April 2024. While the intervals are extremely wide, indicative of a high level of uncertainty, this corresponds to the potential exclusion of about 25-76% coverage of the daily kilocalorie requirement in March and 34- 82% in April. Even a conservative approach towards the commercial and/or privately contracted food deliveries to northern Gaza, which the FRC considers possible, would still indicate a contribution of 25% and 34% coverage of the daily kilocalorie requirement in March and April, respectively.

FEWS NET food availability analysis excludes the contribution of WFP deliveries to bakeries in northern Gaza, including a reported 940 MT of flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in April. While the intervals are extremely wide, indicative of a high level of uncertainty, this corresponds to the potential exclusion of about 4% to 15% coverage of the daily kilocalorie requirement. […]

…the exclusion of all commercial and/or privately contracted deliveries and WFP deliveries of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt to bakeries, translates to the exclusion of food equal to as much as 38% to 49% coverage of the daily kilocalorie requirement in April. While FEWS NET estimated the caloric availability in the area as covering only 59- 63% of the needs (based uniquely on Humanitarian Food Assistance) in April, the review done by the FRC estimates that this range would be 75% to 109% if commercial and/or privately contracted food deliveries were included (157% if a higher estimate was used).”

Finally, the Jerusalem Post reported that Columbia University Professors Awi Federgruen and Ran Kivetz analyzed available data and conducted research whose “findings demonstrate that sufficient amounts of food are being supplied into Gaza“. The two professors examined the “hard data, available from such sources as COGAT and the UN” and noted that sufficient amounts of food are being supplied into Gaza. According to their research they “demonstrate that 250 truckloads suffice to feed the entire Gazan population, in accordance with a normal diet in North America.”

Tellingly, none of these studies refuting the IPC’s March findings of ‘imminent starvation in Gaza’ have been reported by Channel 4 News to date, including Karmani’s report on the death of Hanan Al-Zaanin, thus leading the outlet’s viewers to his desired, evidence-free conclusion about Israel’s alleged culpability in the girl’s tragic death.

Related Posts

BBC News continues to promote a narrative on famine in Gaza

Written By
More from Adam Levick
Sounds Israeli: The music of Nathan Goshen
The following song by Nathan Goshen was released in 2011, and is...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *