After Arabs rioted in Jerusalem, Palestinians claimed Israeli police summoned a 4-year-old for questioning. The media jumped to attention. The only problem? It never happened.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Palestinian claims on Tuesday that the Israeli police summoned a 4-year-old Arab child for questioning because he threw rocks at a police car during a riot in eastern Jerusalem earlier in the week were proven to be fake news by the next day.
The boy’s father, Rabi Elayyan, alleged that he was told to bring his child with him to the police station. A rumor spread quickly through social media treating his claims as fact and that it was the boy who was wanted for interrogation.
Elayyan then went to the station with an Arab news crew in tow to document the event. They filmed the boy crying, and the father told the press that the police “threatened that next time they would take Muhammad.”
The police immediately denied the story, and released a picture of the summons, which clearly states only the father’s name.
“Fake news,” tweeted Israel Police Foreign Press spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. “Father summoned for Q[uestioning]. He sent his son to throw rocks at police. Father brought son on purpose to create media event. Boy never Q.”
They had called in the father “to warn him and clarify to him his responsibility for his son’s actions” and then released him, the police added.
“To our sorrow, this is a part of a serious and dangerous phenomenon in the area whereby small children are used to throw rocks at security forces, some of [these cases] occur alongside and under the supervision of adults and family members standing near them, and such was the case in this incident.”
The fact that Israeli law prohibits the police from arresting or even interrogating children as suspects when they are under 12 years old did not stop either the Palestinian or Israeli media from reporting the “news” and interviewing Elayyan.
Arab MKs also jumped to condemn the police before ascertaining the facts. MK Aida Touma-Sliman of the Arab communist party Hadash tweeted a picture of the boy, saying “Forget about the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Under occupation there are no conventions and no rights. Just horrors.”
Ahmad Tibi, leader of the Israeli-Arab party Ta’al, also expressed shock at the summons.
When confronted on Twitter by journalists, who said he should admit he made a mistake, he refused. He said that he believed the father and added that “summoning a father over claims of a 5-year-old throwing rocks would not have happened in [ultra-Orthodox stronghold] Me’ah Shearim or for the [extremist right-wing] Hilltop Youth.”
Most disturbing, Israeli weekly Makor Rishon reports is that “Media outlets in Israel interviewed the father, and cooperated with the false negative campaign, without taking a single look at the police subpoena. In some of the inciting tweets against Israel, the crumpled page was even attached as proof of Israeli failure and hostility, but they also did not dwell on the ‘minor’ details.”