A child of Gaza dies. A symbol is born. The arguing begins

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Layla Ghandour, an 8-month-old girl with sparkling green eyes, was in the arms of her grandmother when a cloud of tear gas engulfed them at the protest in Gaza on Monday. The child inhaled a draft of acrid gas that set off a rasping cough and watering eyes. Hours later she was dead.

The story shot across the globe, providing an emotive focus for outrage at military tactics that Israel’s critics said were disproportionately violent.

Yet within hours the family’s story was being questioned. Doctors said Layla had suffered from a congenital heart defect that, one suggested, might have caused her death. Then the Israeli military issued claims, unsupported by evidence, that it held information that disproved the family’s account.

The controversy underscored the power of images of children in the most wrenching conflicts of the Middle East. Photographs of Layla’s mother, Mariam, clutching her daughter’s limp body in a Gaza hospital ward have become…

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