Labour MP apologises after falsely blaming Israeli soldiers for attack

By Henry Clare, Press Association
Grahame Morris was accused of choosing 'hostility and the spreading of fake news over sincerity and accuracy'.

A Labour MP has apologised after sharing a video which he mistakenly claimed was of Israeli soldiers beating up Palestinian children “for the fun of it”.

Grahame Morris was widely criticised when he used Twitter to post the footage, saying that it depicted an attack by the Israeli army, which he described as the “best financed, best trained, best equipped army in the world”.

But the video is thought to have actually been shot in 2015, and is said to show a Guatemalan soldier, rather than an Israeli one, dressed in camouflage beating a young boy against a wall.

The error prompted the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Twitter account to accuse Mr Morris of spreading “lies” and call for an apology.

Meanwhile, the Jewish Leadership Council tweeted that he had chosen “hostility and the spreading of fake news over sincerity and accuracy”, adding that the message reflected a “hatred of Israel”.

Around 24 hours after posting the footage on Monday, the MP, who represents Easington in County Durham and currently has more than 29,000 followers on the social networking site, apologised for the error, which he said “demonstrates the dangers of fake news online”.

Sharing the video from another Twitter account, Mr Morris’s now-deleted tweet, which prompted hundreds of responses, read: “Marvellous, absolutely marvellous the Israeli Army, the best financed, best trained, best equipped army in the world caught on camera beating up Palestinian children for the fun of it.

“May God forgive them. What would Jim Royle say on an Easter Monday.”

The message prompted a wave of responses from users who said the footage was not of IDF soldiers and was actually filmed in Guatemala.

The IDF account itself told Mr Morris: “The only marvelous thing here are your lies.

“These are not IDF soldiers. Apologies would be in order.”

James Felton, a TV and radio comedy writer, was also quick to call out the MP on his mistake, saying: “You’re an MP and should know better.”

Mr Felton tweeted: “I’m sure you’ve been told this hundreds of times, but that’s not where this footage is from.

“Israeli soldiers have done plenty of bad things, there’s no need to use untrue things like this. Delete and correct.

“You’re an MP and should know better by the way.”

In his apology, Mr Morris said: “I am sorry for sharing a post which purports to show the IDF hurting children but it was in fact the Guatemalan Army.

“My error demonstrates the dangers of fake news online and I will be more diligent in future in checking my sources.”

Responding to the apology, the Jewish Leadership Council tweeted: “Grahame Morris’s half-hearted apology is something we have seen far too often when people are exposed for their hatred of Israel.

“Rather than apologising unequivocally and promising to do better, he has chosen hostility and the spreading of fake news over sincerity and accuracy.”

Mr Morris has been MP for Easington since 2010.