Hamas Paid Family of 8-Month-Old To Say She Died During Gaza Border Clashes

GAZA CITY, GAZA – MAY 15: People run from tear gas at the border fence with Israel on May 15, 2018 in Gaza City, Gaza. Israeli soldiers killed over 50 Palestinians and wounded over a thousand as demonstrations on the Gaza-Israel border coincided with the controversial opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem yesterday. This marks the deadliest day of violence in Gaza since 2014. Gaza’s Hamas rulers have vowed that the marches will continue until the decade-old Israeli blockade of the territory is lifted. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hamas paid the family of an 8-month-old baby to say she died during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops, a family member said.

Mahmoud Omar, 20, told Israeli investigators that his 8-month-old cousin Layla al-Ghandour died of a blood disease, the same disease the baby’s brother died from a year earlier. He said he heard about his cousin’s death while protesting at the border in early May.

The information was contained in testimony by Omar filed as part of an indictment in Beersheba District Court on Thursday. Omar, who was captured attempting to infiltrate Israel through the Gaza border fence, was charged with several security offenses, including membership in a terrorist organization, terrorist activity and attempted infiltration, according to Hadashot news. He reportedly is a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which promised financial aid to his family.

Omar testified that Hamas paid his aunt Mariam and her husband Anwar 8,000 shekels, or about $2,200, to say that their daughter had died from exposure to tear gas at the border protests.

The death of the baby inflamed Palestinian passions and led to a deluge of condemnation against Israel for what critics call its heavy-handed response to the border protests. At least 120 Palestinian protesters, including dozens of members of local terror groups, have been killed during the more than two months of protests, according to Gaza officials.

According to a New York Times report last month, “The Ghandour family acknowledged that Layla suffered from patent ductus arteriosus, a congenital heart disease commonly described as a hole in the heart.”

In mid-May, the Gaza Health Ministry removed Layla from the list of those killed during border clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops.

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