SKY News has come in for heavy criticism after a report on a Palestinian child’s death called her a “three or four-year-old young lady” who was killed after a bullet “found its way into the van” in which she was sitting.

Outrage has greeted a clip of the report, which has been widely shared on social media. LibDem peer Meral Hussein-Ece was among those to condemn the footage, saying the reporter’s use of passive language suggested “journalism is finished”.

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The video shows Sky News reporting on the death of Ruqaya Ahmad Odeh Jahalin, who was killed by Israeli forces in a shooting near the Palestinian village of Beit Iksa, in the central occupied West Bank, on January 7, according to the Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP).

The broadcaster's reporter stated: "Accidentally a stray bullet found its way into the van ahead and that killed a three or four-year-old young lady."

The clip was shared by Saul Staniforth on Twitter/X, who wrote: "How did the three or four-year-old die? 'Accidentally a stray bullet found its way into the van'.

"Oh, and why not say 'child'."

Outrage greeted the language used, with Hussein-Ece, the LibDems' former equalities spokesperson, saying: "British journalism: 'a bullet found its way into the van and killed a three or four-year-old young lady'. A child! – journalism is finished."

Dr Yara Hawari, a senior analyst at Palestinian policy network Al-Shabaka, said: “Mainstream media is continuously ‘un-childing’ Palestinian children.

“This time from @SkyNews: ‘It looks like accidentally a stray bullet found its way into the van ahead and that killed a three or four-year-old young lady’."

Another said: “This is what happens when you kill all the journalists on the ground and replace them with mealy-mouthed talking heads. In wartime, more than ever – language matters.” 

Others said the reporting was a "disgrace" and the language used was "diminish[ing] the slaughter of this child".

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Israeli police said that the shooting took place after a ramming at a checkpoint north-west of Jerusalem.

Security camera footage showed a white car ploughing into two Israeli police officers at the checkpoint. Police then chase after the vehicle, opening fire.

Police said a man and woman inside the car were shot, but a girl in a van in front of them was shot as well.

The National previously reported that UK media has been biased in its coverage of Palestinian deaths, as fresh analysis found that the BBC's broadcasting output had prioritised Israeli deaths over Palestinian in its reporting. 

Research by openDemocracy found that in the month following the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel,  the phrases “murder”, “murderous”, “mass murder”, “brutal murder” and “merciless murder” were used a total of 52 times by journalists to refer to Israelis’ deaths – but never in relation to Palestinian deaths.

And a separate study found that the BBC's online output also almost exclusively used words like "murder" to refer to Israeli deaths and not Palestinian.

Previously, First Minister Humza Yousaf urged the UK Government to hold Israel to account and described their repeated refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire as “shameful”.

He added that the UK Government must make clear that Israeli action in Gaza has “gone way beyond a legitimate response” to the Hamas attack of October 7.

On Friday, he became the first UK party leader to condemn Israel’s push for “ethnic cleansing”, after warning that Israeli officials had called for the "resettlement of the population of Gaza".

Speaking to Sky News, Yousaf (below) said: “We are seeing not only a humanitarian crisis, but we’re now seeing senior members of the Netanyahu government making statements that are frankly the textbook definition of ethnic cleansing and should be condemned in the strongest possible manner.”

The National: First Minister Humza Yousaf said coming from a minority gave ‘important perspective’ (Robert Perry/PA)

Since the war began, Israel’s assault in Gaza has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, about two-thirds of them women and children, and more than 58,000 have been wounded, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.

The death toll does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Nearly 85% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have been driven from their homes by the fighting, and a quarter of its residents face starvation, with only a trickle of food, water, medicine and other supplies entering through an Israeli siege.

The UN humanitarian office, known as OCHA, warned that the fighting in central Gaza was severely hampering operations to distribute aid.

Several warehouses, distribution centres, health facilities and shelters have been affected by evacuation orders from the military, it said.

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In northern Gaza, which Israeli forces cut off from the rest of the territory in late October, tens of thousands of people who remain there face shortages of food and water.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Sunday it has been unable to deliver supplies to northern Gaza for 12 days because of bombardment and the inability to guarantee safe passage with the Israeli military.

OCHA said the military rejected five attempted aid convoys to the north in the past two weeks, including planned deliveries of medical supplies and fuel for water and sanitation facilities.

As a result, five hospitals in the north have no access to supplies, tens of thousands are without access to clean water, and the risk of disease is mounting as sewage systems fail, it said.