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By Stewart Stogel
UNITED NATIONS – Israel is battling the United Nations over a U.N. employee who tweeted a false claim of child-killing against the Israel Defense Forces.
The Internet posting alleged that the IDF was responsible for the death of a girl in Gaza. It was accompanied by the image of a man carried a gravely injured and bloodied young girl.
Israeli officials say the falsely captioned photo has gone viral and is posing a serious security threat to civilians in the region because it could incite violence. Israeli sources have confirmed they believe the goal of the posting was to create a dangerous situation for their citizens.
The photograph was pulled from a 2006 archive that documented an accident unrelated to the IDF in which the girl was injured.
When the Tweet was sent several months ago, Ron Prosor, Israel’s United Nations ambassador, promptly filed a complaint and asked that action be taken against the U.N. staff member, Kulhood Badawi, an information and media coordinator in the humanitarian affairs office in the U.N.’s Jerusalem complex.
But nothing has been done, apparently.
Prosor said it’s been long enough.
He wrote in an email: “It is outrageous that three months have passed, and Kulhood Badawi is still on the U.N.’s payroll. OCHA (Office of Humanitarian Affairs) expects Israel to provide it with information at the drop of a hat, but finds every excuse to delay action and stall for time when its own employee who is in charge of information has been caught red-handed spreading misinformation.”
He continued, “If the U.N. wants Israel to take assertions of objectivity with any shred of seriousness, it should expedite the investigation and take action to terminate Ms. Badawi.”
Martin Nesirky, spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, declined to comment other than to say the investigation still “is under way.”
Israeli diplomatic sources say if the U.N. continues to delay the review, a procedure Prosor publicly has labeled a “whitewash,” Israel could consider acting on its own. One of the options is to expel Badawi from Jerusalem.
The latest developments came after Israel became fed up with trying to obtain a resolution from the office of Valerie Amos, a former cabinet member for Tony Blair and the highest ranking British national in the world body in her position as under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs.
The tentacles of the catastrophe now have reached to the desk of the secretary-general himself.
Prosor’s original complaint came March 14 regarding Badawi’s Twitter posting of the following image:
The photo was accompanied by the comment: “Palestine is bleeding. Another child killed by Israel. Another father carrying a child into a grave in Gaza.”
But the image, Prosor documented, was from 2006 when Reuters reported on a local accident in which the IDF had no involvement. Reuters confirmed his details.
Prosor had complained in March: “We have before us an OCHA information officer who was directly engaged in spreading misinformation. When the conduct of an OCHA employee so grossly deviates from the organization’s responsibility to remain impartial, the integrity of the entire organization is eroded. The credibility of OCHA is already seriously in doubt among the Israeli public. That is why immediate action in this case is necessary.”
But the U.N. has refused to disclose what, if any, action has been taken or is being contemplated. An official speaking for Amos’ office in New York, Amanda Pitt, declined to explain why OCHA decided to investigate itself, rather than having the Office of Internal Oversight Services do the work.
An OIOS official said the U.N. branch did not ask for his help.
Prosor has reported Badawi previously has been involved in such “misinformation” activities.
According to Prosor, Badawi was videotaped leading an anti-Israel demonstration in March 2008. During the gathering, Badawi was said to have been taped calling Israel’s defense minister a “war criminal” and a “child murderer.”
The Blaze recently reported that the Tweet still is present on Badawi’s account and has been shared by many other users. The report explains the child actually was hurt falling off a swing.
Commented the Blaze: “Despite this clear evidence, Badawi has yet to come forward and apologize for tweeting and attributing the image incorrectly. Perhaps her activism and strong allegiance to Palestinian ideals has prevented her from doing so.”