Fatema Tabasum

Fellow, Dismislab
Sumayya Wushah is not Gaza’s youngest journalist
This article is more than 2 months old

Sumayya Wushah is not Gaza's youngest journalist

Fatema Tabasum

Fellow, Dismislab

Somewhere in war-torn Palestine, wrapped in a bulletproof vest, a little girl is seen standing in front of the camera, wearing a safety helmet on her head, and holding a microphone in hand. Some media outlets claimed (1, 2, 3) that the child is the youngest journalist in Gaza. The same information has been seen spreading on social media (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) as well. However, verification shows that 11-year-old Sumayya Wushah is not the youngest journalist in Gaza.

Analyzing a video report, published by Al Jazeera English on their YouTube channel on February 27, it was observed that Sumayya was never referred to as the youngest journalist there. Instead, she was introduced as “one of the youngest journalists” in Gaza, exactly on the seventh second of the video.

Further search by Dismislab has revealed that Gaza’s youngest journalist is Lama Abu Jamous, who is only nine years old. This makes Lama two years younger than Sumayya, ideally the youngest journalist in Gaza so far.

The viral videos largely originated from one specific report by Al Jazeera. The report, titled “Gaza’s budding 11-year-old journalist reporting the war,” was published by Al Jazeera on February 27, 2024. All media reports and social media posts were circulated based on this single report by Al Jazeera, clearly mentioning Sumayya as “the youngest journalist in Gaza.”

The same video has garnered significant attention on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), with approximately 18,000 views and 428 shares. On Facebook, a video (reel) containing the same misinformation has been shared over 4,000 times, which has attracted 150,000 likes and 750 comments. A Facebook page created in the name of Kalbela also shared the video with a misleading caption on February 26. Kalbela is a mainstream news media outlet.

Meanwhile, various reports on Lama Abu Jamous (1, 2, 3) reveal that the nine-year-old child is working as an independent journalist in war-torn Palestine.

Al Jazeera published a report titled “This 9-year-old is reporting the war on Gaza“, featuring Lama. Similarly, Sky News featured a report titled “Meet Gaza’s youngest journalist, 9-year-old Lama Abu Jamous“, on their website on January 22 .

Earlier on February 22, a user of X (formerly Twitter) added “The youngest journalist in Gaza” in English to the same video clip. The caption of the video claims, “The mother of this innocent girl from the Gaza Strip was martyred in the cannibalistic Israeli attack, now her younger daughter is reporting in Gaza in place of her mother. The world is seeing the truth.” But Sumayya’s mother is not deceased, as claimed in this individual’s account. Rather, in a video-report on Al Jazeera’s official YouTube channel, Sumayya is heard talking about her parents. “When I go out, I tell my mother and father that I am going out, and I put my trust in God,” Sumayya told the news anchor (at 01:18 minutes of the video). It clarifies that Sumayya’s mother is not deceased. 

Al Jazeera’s report does not mention Sumayya’s statement about her mother being a journalist or a media worker either. Instead, Sumayya can be heard saying from the 50th second of Al Jazeera’s video, “My role model is Shireen Abu Akleh. May God have mercy on her. I wanted to prove myself to the world like she did.”

Al Jazeera’s prominent journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli bullets in Jenin, a city in the West Bank, situated in the northwestern part of occupied Palestine.

Misinformation about Gaza has been spreading on various Bangladeshi media platforms since the beginning of the Israeli attack on Gaza on October 7. At least five media outlets published a news article claiming a child in Gaza has been rescued from debris after 37 days of demolition. Later, it was revealed that the child was in fact under the rubble for three hours. Then again, reports of Elon Musk supporting Gaza, and Russia sending aid to Gaza were also circulated in the media, which were later identified as misinformation. Recently, an image of two children inside a muddy tent was shared, claiming them to be from war-torn Gaza. However, upon verification, it was found that the images were artificially generated using computer intelligence tools. Dismislab published a fact-check report on this issue last January.

Dr. Robert M. Dover, a Professor of Intelligence and National Security at the University of Hull, warns about the dissemination of misleading information regarding the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel in his article featured on The Conversation. He writes, “Gaza is now the frontline of a global information war”.

In the same report, he states, “… This makes it harder and harder for the average person, as well as professionals with expertise, to work out what is true and what isn’t.” As the fundamental cause for the frequent spread of such misinformation and the difficulties of verifying it, Robert states, “The traditional media is also struggling to sift through and counter the weight of misinformation about Gaza, which appears in social media much faster than journalists can verify or debunk it. And the death of so many journalists in Gaza is making accurate news harder to gather.”

According to a report, titled “Journalist casualties in the Israel-Gaza war,” by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war until March 4, 2024. At least 94 of them were journalists and media workers.