Propaganda, lies and the Gaza conflict

Hamas recycles photo from Syria

The conflict between Israel and Hamas is also being played out in the media including social media, with Hamas and anti-Israel activists attempting to demonise Israel with false accusations.

The latest fabrication exposed concerns the tragic death of four-year-old Mahmoud Sadallah from Gaza – whose picture made international headlines when his body was cradled by the Egyptian Prime Minister. News agencies including CNN wrongly reported that the child was killed by Israeli missile fire. However, it has now been revealed that he was killed by a Palestinian rocket fired from within Gaza that did not reach Israeli territory. As the London Telegraph now confirms:

“But there were signs on Saturday that not all the Palestinian casualties have been the result of Israeli air strikes. The highly publicised death of four-year-old Mohammed Sadallah appeared to have been the result of a misfiring home-made rocket, not a bomb dropped by Israel.

The child’s death on Friday figured prominently in media coverage after Hisham Kandil, the Egyptian prime minister, was filmed lifting his dead body out of an ambulance. ‘The boy, the martyr, whose blood is still on my hands and clothes, is something that we cannot keep silent about,’ he said, before promising to defend the Palestinian people.

But experts from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights who visited the site on Saturday said they believed that the explosion was caused by a Palestinian rocket.”

Meanwhile, the BBC has also been accused of being involved in the reporting of false casualties. The BBC and CNN aired Reuters footage of what appeared to be an injured Palestinian man being carried away by four other men. However, minutes later the same man was walking around injury-free. CNN and the BBC have now responded to the accusations of a false report – see here.

The BBC report and other false claims by Hamas – including a photograph published on the Hamas Twitter account of a Gazan civilian casualty, that was actually from Syria a month ago – have been collated in Israel Defence Force YouTube videos ‘Hamas Claims: True or False’ part 1, 2 and 3.  More false claims made by Hamas include that it succeeded in scoring hits on Tel Aviv, the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), and the Israeli stock exchange.

In addition, also circulating in social media is a photograph of an injured baby claimed to be from Gaza, but the infant is actually an Israeli from Kiryat Malachi injured by rocket fire.

Palestinian Media Watch
also noted additional Hamas false reports – including a claim to have closed Israel’s only international airport on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV and a claim on Hamas’ website Al-Risala that Hamas had succeeded in shooting down an Israeli F-16 plane.

Meanwhile Hamas’ military wing is now using social media to call for renewed suicide attacks in Israel. Palestinian Media Watch reported a number of chilling examples, including this one from Al-Aqsa TV on November 18:

“From the Palestinian people to the Zionists: We’ve missed the suicide attacks. Expect us soon at bus stations and in cafés. From the Al-Qassam Brigades to the Zionists: Don’t go to sleep, because we may get you in your sleep.

From the Al-Qassam Brigades to the Zionist soldiers: On the edge of Gaza, [your] grave is waiting for you. From the Al-Qassam Brigades to the Zionist soldiers: Come forward, brave one, So that you can be killed.”

Hamas was responsible for a significant proportion of suicide attacks in Israel during the second intifada in which over 1,100 Israelis were killed, and 8,000 were injured. However, it is generally agreed that this tactic by Hamas ended not because of any restraint on its part, but because Israel put in place security measures which made carrying out such attacks very difficult.

Sharyn Mittelman