On Sunday, November 21st, north of Jerusalem, a terror attack was perpetrated near the Western Wall, killing 25-year-old Eliyahu David Kay, of blessed memory, who worked at the Western Wall. The terrorist also wounded two civilians and two officers. Traditionally, Palestinian media praise terrorists, noting their affiliation through a portrait of them wearing army uniforms while conveying final last words in pre-filmed videos. Yet this time, Hamas’ media reacted differently.
At 11:53 am, more than an hour after the terror attack in Jerusalem, Hamas’ formal channel “Al-Aqsa” did not relate to the event. Instead, there was a re-run of Israeli press news coverage. The focus was on a report by Channel 12 journalist Dafna Liel relating to MK Amsalem’s (Likud) political dispute. Rather than emphasizing crucial security events, this coverage highlighted Hamas leadership’s intention to ignore these events in favor of other issues.
At 12:00 pm Quds TV, another Hamas channel, issued a proclamation on its website, according to which the perpetrator, Abu-Shidem, was one of Hamas’ leaders in Shuafat. It also noted that the “Operation” was a warning about the “Occupation”. The photo below depicts the terrorist dressed in combat uniform!
At 13:43 pm, an hour later, Quds TV published video of a student of the terrorist, who was a teacher. The student cried about the loss of his teacher, and noted he had never said a bad word about any person (excluding the Jews). Subsequent reports focused on the terrorist’s daughter mourning her father. A decision by the channel’s administrators (probably high-ranking Hamas officials) to frame the terrorist differently, from the immediate hour following the attack was quite noticeable. The picture of him in an army uniform transformed into eyewitnesses (family & students), of an alleged human prism of his personality.
A number of conclusions may be reached from this incoherence: 1. Hamas’ media are bound to scrutiny of political figures. 2. These political figures dictate their policy to Hamas’ media professionals. They do not have freedom of thought and may react quickly to any criticism of not serving the movement’s “cause”. In the case of the coverage of the events of November 21st, Hamas’ leaders might have defined their coverage insufficient or irrelevant, and hence the quick changes. Hamas’ leaders may have thought that the image of a “father figure” and a “dedicated teacher” would be more acceptable for political reasons.
Dr. Barak Bouks is a senior researcher at Bar-Ilan University’s Europa Institute, and lecturer at the University’s School of Communication, International BA Communication Program and Department of Political Studies.