Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Did Hamas Engineer Border Violence to Extract a Dangerous Concession from Israel?

Protest at the Gaza border fence (east of Khan Yunis), 23/11/12

Conflict at the Gaza border on the 23rd November, in which one Gazan man was shot dead by the IDF, has added to claims by supporters of the Palestinian cause that Israel was aggressor in the November 2012 conflict. The death of a 13 year old boy, supposedly killed by the IDF whilst playing soccer, is credited by pro-Palestinians for instigating the minor war, despite the fact that there were attacks against the IDF earlier that day, and reports indicate events surrounding the boy’s death diverge strongly.

On the 23rd, a large number of Gazan’s amassed at a particular point by the border fence with Israel. Some claimed they were agricultural workers. Other Palestinian sources claimed these people were in fact on their way to prayer, Friday being the Muslim holy day. Hamas claimed the IDF response was a ceasefire violation but urged terrorist groups within Gaza to remain calm, should further violence harm Hamas’ gains made by Israel’s overly generous concessions in the ceasefire deal, signed two days previously, and put at risk the consolidation of its power in Gaza.

Most online (and broadcast) video of the incident comes from Russian news channel RT, which is not often regarded as an impartial source. The footage is heavily edited but still indicates the Palestinian presence at the border was far from peaceful.

Indeed, a provocative element within the gathering is at least partially acknowledged by the comments of a relative of the deceased man, who was present during the Israeli gunfire. To quote Reuters:
“Anwar [Qdeih] was trying to put a Hamas flag on the fence,” said Omar Qdeih, a relative of the man killed who was at the scene.

“The army fired three times into the air. Anwar shouted at them ‘Jaabari is behind you’, then they shot him in the head,” he told Reuters.
Thus the intensity of the Palestinian presence seems to have been significant. Many sources also refer to the fact that the border area has long been understood to be a closed zone due to terrorist attacks, e.g:
Health officials said Anwar Qdeih, 23, was hit in the head by Israeli gunfire after he approached the security fence that runs between Israel and Gaza — an area that Israel has long declared a no-go zone for Palestinians.
It would seem probable that a significant portion of the three hundred or more Palestinians present tried to damage and/or cross the border, which is a common activity when protests at the border occur.

Warning shots were fired into the air to distance the crowd from the fence but some kept coming or remained on scene as the video footage suggests. The IDF claim that shots were also fired at the legs of some protestors after they continued their apparent attempt to cross into Israel. Such actions tally with standard IDF procedure at the border — an area that has long been a source of conflict. Reportedly, a Gazan man infiltrated Israeli territory in the course of the border commotion but was promptly sent back to Gaza.

Furthermore, the fact that a significant number of people gathered in one place along many miles of border suggests a level of planning prior to the confrontation. There are no reports of similar incidents involving casualties at other parts of the border.

Although accounts vary on the way in which a Gaza-based Palestinian man got through the border in the early hours of the following Monday, to then commit a knife attack against an Israeli woman and her children in their home, some reports state that it occurred after he was able to infiltrate the border due to damage caused by the events of November 23rd.

Showing little fear of their supposed oppressors

It is notable that the trouble at the Israeli-Gazan border occurred at the same sort of location to that of several other significant flash-points of conflict, which led to Operation Pillar of Cloud. Moreover, there were reports of further demonstrations in the area after the death of Anwar Qdeih was known.

Protest at the Gaza border fence (east of Khan Yunis), 23/11/12

On the one hand, this behaviour suggests that many Palestinians do not take the risk of confronting the IDF seriously. This is a definite possibility, when considering the spectacle of children attempting to provoke armed soldiers, in collusion with older Palestinians shooting video nearby. Such behaviour does not neatly fit the common anti-Israeli portrait of the IDF as barbaric genocidal Nazi-like killers.

However, background to this post-Pillar of Cloud border conflict suggests a complex political intent.

An article by the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency states there was a little-reported incident at the Gaza border one day after the ceasefire (Thursday the 22nd), where it was claimed some two hundred protestors tried to break through the border. The Times of Israel also alludes to the event, stating two Palestinians were injured by Israeli gunfire when “marching” near the same area as the bigger protest the next day.

The common and repeated nature of these two confrontations may well suggest that Hamas was involved in the incidents. Hamas is noted for ruling Gaza with an iron grip and a watchful eye, to the extent that its crackdowns on dissent have harmed its popularity in Gaza to a significant degree. The very high sensitivity of the border area, especially in the immediate aftermath of outright war, would of course be obvious to the group. There is a high probability that the group engineered or at least gave their assent to the border confrontations.

Hamas having such an intent would be far from unprecedented, as the Nabka Day border attacks attest. In 2011, 45 Palestinians were injured attempting to break through the border. There were a number of casualties in similar protests this year, and the Gaza-Egyptian border has not been exempt from similarly well organised violent protests/riots either.

At this time, engineering confrontations at very sensitive border areas has a positive political benefit for Hamas. In the short term, direct terrorist attacks are no longer a viable political option, after having agreed to the ceasefire. It would lead to criticism of their stance, and also place at risk the significant political gains they have obtained in the ceasefire agreement. Hamas also have cause to complain to their clearly sympathetic Egyptian mediators by claiming Israel were the first to break the ceasefire.

According to the Ma’an News Agency, Hamas have since deployed “security forces” nearer the border with Israel in the aftermath of the border incidents. Reports suggest the conflict at the border would seem to have legitimised such a move, perhaps even in Israel’s eyes.

The increased vulnerability of the border has already been exposed with the crossing of a Gazan terrorist, who stabbed a woman in her family home whilst she was attempting to defend her four children, before fleeing and being shot. The event echoed the savage attack on the Fogel family last year, and could have been just as destructive if it were not for the fact the woman in question was a martial arts expert [h/t AnneinPT]. However, such a significant violation has been largely ignored by the international media, after they produced a high volume of content over the November 23rd border shooting, and a substantial reportage critical of Israel’s border buffer zone.

The loss (or compromise) of the buffer zone will also make Israeli forces more vulnerable to attack and kidnap, a stated aim of Hamas’ leaders, with tunnelling made easier. Hamas has openly refused to stop re-arming because it claims it can only extract concessions from Israel with violence.

If Hamas poses a medium-term risk, there is still reason to think there may be a more imminent risk of hostilities re-commencing, with Islamic Jihad’s deputy-leader, Ziad Nakhalah, describing the ceasefire as “temporary and partial.”


Also published at Crethi Plethi.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Manufacturing blood libel: Hamas’ propaganda war

(Updated November the 19th 2012)

Intensive propaganda campaigns led by Palestinian terrorist groups are perhaps the most predictable occurrence when it comes to any minor or major conflict involving Israel. Typically, the strategy is to exaggerate death tolls, and conflate the killing of terrorist combatants with that of innocent civilians, in an effort to turn the issue on its head when Israel engages in morally legitimate acts of self-defence.

The display of highly emotive imagery is central to the strategy, and the most tasteless element must surely be the use of children. Children on both sides suffer, and conflict would of course cause fear to children, if not suffering and death. This is particularly the case where conflict arises in relatively dense population areas, where terrorist groups intentionally use a civilian populace for cover. Nonetheless, many of these stories are often faked or greatly exaggerated, and any apparent suffering paraded to the point of frenzy, a phenomenon that is intensifying with the use of social media sites like Twitter.

The recent violence between Hamas and Israel, leading to Operation Pillar of Cloud, has proven no exception. Almost immediately, Hamas began misrepresenting images of children that had been injured or killed in Syria as Palestinian dead. Notably, one of Hamas’ own supporters called out some of the fakery in a Tweet.

Hamas tweeted the above image relating to the November Israeli air strikes.
However, the image appeared in an October montage relating to the Syrian conflict
(the Dar al Shifa Hospital, Aleppo).

Similarly, a heartrending image of a dead two year-old child killed by the Syrian armed forces has also been passed off as another Palestinian casualty in the recent Israeli air strikes.

The image of a dead two year-old child was posted by Abo Kazem Saad,
a Gazan Face Book user, blaming Israel for the death.
In fact the child was killed in October by a Syrian sniper in Aleppo.

Pictures of a dead boy, four-year-old Mohammed Sadallah, being held by a tearful Egyptian Prime Minister, have done the rounds through the mainstream media. It was claimed that the child was killed in an Israeli air strike, while Israel denied they had carried out attacks on the area in question. A report by The Daily Telegraph, corrections by other media sources (such as Reuters and CNN), and even a Palestinian NGO, now affirm the child was killed by a stray Palestinian rocket.

Four-year-old Mohammed Sadallah killed by Palestinian rocket

These forgeries are all the more ironic when it has been shown repeatedly that Hamas (and other "militant" groups) are intentionally endangering its own populace by positioning their weaponry within dense civilian locations, as news reports coming from Gaza itself in recent days do attest.

The strategy: Israel (AKA Jew) as child killer

There are many examples of forged Palestinian propaganda, most of which get no media attention, other than the case of Mohammad Al-Dura, a death proven to be falsified, and made in collusion with elements of the French media, a fact journalists at Haaretz and the Guardian have poured doubt upon.

In June Hamas claimed that an Israeli air strike killed a child. However, no strike appeared to have been conducted in the area in question, and the UN confirmed another cause. In March, AFP retracted a faked Hamas story concerning a child supposedly dying due to electricity shortages.

Such propaganda is heavily promoted internationally by pro-Palestinian groups, which can often come to resemble proxies, and indeed many pro-Palestinians are also very keen to take the initiative for themselves. Examples this year include an image of a young girl purportedly killed in an Israeli air strike but the girl in question was actually a casualty of an accident six years earlier, which was knowingly peddled on Twitter by no less than a member of the UN.

This content goes viral within a very short time, so viewed by millions of users. The fakery does not need to be of a good standard to be believed either. Overtly falsified incidents, such as a staged event where a child is seen under a supposed IDF soldier’s boot, have found similar success on the Internet.

Pallywood becomes Hammywood – Al Dura style

It has been noted that many news outlets minimised or failed to report that the present conflict was very much initiated by Hamas. Indeed, the strategy of delaying the reporting of news stories concerning the conflict until Israel strikes back, whereby headlines lead with Israel’s actions, seems to have almost become editorial policy at the majority of mainstream news institutions, due to the astonishing frequency of such occurrences.

The BBC, a major international news outlet, broadcast content on their prime news bulletins that was clearly falsified. This occurred only a day after Operation Pillar of Cloud had commenced.

A man in a tan-brown jacket, and black top featuring small print, is carried away by a crowd, circa 2:14 in the clip. The same man is seen walking around a short time later (circa 2:44). Both shots happened in the seemingly chaotic aftermath of a strike. Two alternatives can be posited. Either the scene was largely faked or a gravely injured man was up and walking again unassisted in a matter of minutes.

The footage is in fact redolent of old unedited Pallywood material, in which youths and men are seen falling as if just shot by the IDF only to get up again.


The Palestinian movement, both at home and abroad, has engaged in an intensive campaign to delegitimise its enemy for decades. We see its consequences every time we view news of the conflict in our newspapers, on our TV sets, radios, computers, and increasingly our phones.

Knowledge in the hands of would-be genocidists is a tool of war, and ought to be treated as such. However, elements within the media are complicit.

Obviously such material further incites hatred in a region where there is already more than enough to go around. The examples cited in this article are just occasions when Hamas have been caught out, and it should be noted that the success of this material necessitates most being passed off as genuine.

The focus on children taps into the anti-Semitic canard of the Jew as child killer, as exemplified by Carlos Latuff’s illustrations — a motif prolifically adopted by mainstream pro-Palestinianism. It is a tool to engineer broad anti-Semitic blood libel, which Hamas has long been keen to promote for obvious reasons - it is far easier to deny an utterly dehumanised enemy any right of co-existence.

At this time of conflict, it should be affirmed that the many who defend Hamas do so at the expense of the Palestinians themselves. Those claiming Hamas are elected representatives conveniently forget that they imposed an effective dictatorship on the electorate by repeatedly delaying elections. We are constantly told Hamas are pragmatists, sheep in the clothing of wolves, but with the present fracas Hamas have essentially started an unwinnable war over the killing of a leading terrorist. It shows where their priorities truly lie.

Article Seven of Hamas’ Charter also gives a hint
The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’
Similarly the words of Hamas’ leaders attest to extremism, some of whom believe Allah brought the Jews to Palestine for the purpose of “The Great Massacre” to be instigated by the Palestinian nation.

Also published at Crethi Plethi.