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Al Jazeera's AJ+ Recycles Bogus Organ Theft Accusations against Israel

The rumor that Israel secretly harvests organs from Palestinian corpses has gained new momentum with the resurgence of conflict in the Middle East

AJ+ français video (screenshot, 12/08/2023).

A US teacher made headlines last month for denying the reality of the massacres committed by Hamas in Israel on October 7 and stating, "Palestinians are being killed and their organs sold." Shortly after, American-Palestinian model Gigi Hadid shared a video on Instagram claiming that Israel has long been harvesting organs from deceased Palestinians without their families' consent. On December 7, the Qatari media outlet AJ+ French echoed similar accusations through "Abdel en vrai," a comedian.

The comedian began his 84-second video claiming, "Israel is accused of stealing organs from Palestinian corpses." Without verification, he added: "According to the human rights NGO Euro-Med, the Israeli army is stealing corpses of Palestinians from hospitals they had bombed! And the crazy part is, when corpses were handed over to the Red Cross, health specialists in Gaza examined them and noticed missing organs like livers, kidneys, or hearts!".

The AJ+ French presenter relied on a statement from Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor dated November 26, subsequently covered by the activist site The Palestine Chronicle and publicized on November 30 by the Turkish public channel TRT's website.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor regularly denounces an ongoing "genocide" in Gaza by Israel. Founded in Switzerland in 2011, the organization is not affiliated with EuroMed Rights, an NGO co-funded by the European Union. Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor is chaired by Gaza-born finance expert Ramy Abdu. Richard Falk, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the organization, is a former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories. He is known for his anti-Zionist views and 9/11 conspiracy theory support.

The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor statement discussed "concerns about organ theft" from corpses based on "reports from medical professionals in Gaza who quickly examined a few bodies after their release." None of these medical professionals were named.

The NGO continued: "These medical professionals found evidence of organ theft, including missing cochleas and corneas as well as other vital organs like livers, kidneys, and hearts. Doctors at several Gazan hospitals told the Euro-Med Monitor team that organ theft cannot be proven or disproven solely by forensic medical examination, since multiple bodies underwent surgical procedures prior to death. They stated that it was impossible for them to conduct a full analytical examination of the recovered corpses given the intense air and artillery attacks and influx of wounded civilians, but they detected several signs of possible organ theft by the Israeli military."

Accusations of organ theft targeting Israel are widespread,  typically grounded in a selective examination of facts, and distorted by propaganda. For example, The Algemeiner recalls that: "In 2001, an Israeli investigative journalist exposed that from the years 1988 to 2000, in violation of Israeli law, doctors at the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine had taken body parts for research and transplants of skin and corneas without permission from the relatives. Most body parts were taken from Israeli Jews, but also from Israeli Arabs, Israeli soldiers, and Palestinian terrorists. At the time, the institute was run by Professor Yehuda Hiss, who was personally involved in the scandal. Hiss was removed from his position as director but remained as chief pathologist until later investigations uncovered that he had continued his misconduct, which led to his dismissal from the Institute by the Ministry of Health in May 2012."

Similar accusations resurfaced in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in 2009, leading to a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Sweden. The rumor re-emerged in 2010 during the Haiti earthquake and in 2014 when Time Magazine published similar content before retracting. In 2015, the Palestinian Authority's UN ambassador Riyad Mansour made related accusations.

Rumors of organized organ theft from Palestinian corpses are often labeled as "blood libel," and viewed as antisemitic.

AJ+ français (French), part of Al Jazeera and backed by Qatar, which supports Hamas politically and financially, targets young French-speaking audiences via social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, X, and Instagram. Within less than 24 hours, "Abdel en vrai's" video on X garnered over 240,000 views. A Community Note on the platform stated that "there is currently no medical technique that allows for the reuse of an organ from a corpse."

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