On May 28, IDF forces arrested Mahmoud Omar along with another member of Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, after they attempted to infiltrate into Israel and torch an unmanned IDF post, the Southern District Attorney’s indictment against him said.
The suspect also disclosed that he was related to Layla Ghandour, the 8-month-old baby whose May 14 death was originally reported to have been caused by inhalation of tear gas sprayed by Israeli forces at Gaza border protesters. The story of the baby’s purported death at the hands of Israel dominated global media at the time, becoming one of the central elements of reporting on Palestinian opposition to the May 14 inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
According to the indictment, Omar told authorities that two weeks prior to his arrest, he was among the 40,000 Gazans taking part in the May 14 protests at the border when his mother called to inform him that his baby cousin had died.
Members of the family subsequently gave a series of interviews blaming Israel for Layla’s death. In an article published by AFP on May 15, for instance, the baby’s mother, Mariam al-Ghandour, said, “The Israelis killed her.” The baby’s mother was not asked whether the baby had a preexisting medical condition, and the family indicated to the AFP reporter that she had been healthy, The Times of Israel, which was seeking to ascertain precisely what had happened, was told.
Layla’s mother Mariam, herself only 17, and other members of the family precisely detailed to the AFP reporter the purported sequence of events that led to Layla’s death at the hands of Israel. She explained to AFP that she had a dentist appointment “so I left Leila with my brothers at home.” She added: “My little brother took her and went to the border.”