JERUSALEM, Israel – Recently released information refutes Hamas' claim that a baby girl died of tear gas inhalation at last month's riots near the Israeli border.
The Palestinian Health Ministry included the eight-month-old infant on its list of fatalities during the May 14 demonstrations. According to a Times of Israel report, some people within Gaza's health system were skeptical of the tear gas story.
Now Israel reports that Mahmoud Omar, a 20-year-old member of Fatah's "armed wing," the al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, arrested while trying to infiltrate Israel, told interrogators that Hamas Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar paid the baby's relatives to lie about the cause of her death.
It turned out the arrestee, now indicted, is a cousin of Leila Ghandour, the baby who reportedly succumbed to tear gas fired by IDF soldiers to keep demonstrators away from the security fence.
The news of her death went "viral."
During interrogation, Omar said he'd taken part in the border demonstrations that day. He left after learning that his baby cousin had died. When he got home, he found out she died from the same blood disease that killed her infant brother a year earlier.
At the time of her death, the IDF also questioned the report, with an IDF spokesperson saying Israel had evidence that undermined the health ministry's claim.
During interrogation, the baby's cousin also confessed he'd been offered payment for his family if he joined the brigades' Mujahideen unit, Fatah's "military wing," which is on both the US and UK terror lists. It's a variation of the pay-to-slay ideology embraced by both Palestinian factions – Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Fatah in Ramallah.