How a fatal beach blast became a half-truth rocketing around globe
THE BUILD up started on Twitter. A reputable photojournalist claimed he had witnessed Gaza children being killed by Israeli naval shelling.
There were dozens of retweets. Soon, Peter Beaumont had written a vivid online report for the Guardian, headlined: “Witness to a shelling: first hand account of a deadly strike.” So vivid, you would have assumed he had seen it too. But a closer read revealed he did not see the explosion and had no expertise about the nature and source of the shrapnel that killed the boys. Too late: the “news” had gone global.
The article makes clear that none of the journalists who rushed to the scene saw the explosion. The only witness was a hotel worker who said that it “must have come from a gunboat.”
The article did not mention the long history of children being killed on Gaza beaches by unexploded ordinance, or rockets falling short. There was also the possibility of a “work accident” — a nearby Hamas rocket exploding before launching. There you have it: the anatomy of a half-truth.