Wartime images of Israeli bombs destroying building after building in Gaza City, of gravely injured Palestinian children being carried through the streets, are horrific.
Look at the Instagram feeds of wizard_bisan1, a filmmaker reporting from Gaza. Her interviews with people caught up in the war, her reels of those buried in the rubble, will break your heart. She uploads videos regularly, sometimes several in one day. Her pieces pierce the eye, leaving little doubt about their authenticity. She is there, on the front lines, suffocating in the gunpowder that turns her feet black.
If you scroll through wizard_bisan1’s feeds, you will find a reel dated October 4 that shows her walking down a street and playing with her hair by the seaside. The music track is stirring. The manner in which the filmmaker twirls her selfie stick to create a low-budget panoramic effect serves her slice of Gaza life well.
Her next reel comes on October 8, featuring a black screen filled with white Arabic script above the message, translated by Instagram, as, “I swear to God that the night was very long, it’s the first time a night has been this long.”
Another reel comes on the same day, with Arabic and English sharing the screen. It begins: “There are things that happen in the war on Gaza that you cannot know from the news. You must live them to understand them.”
But there is something missing. There is no word about the Hamas attack that ignited Israel’s devastating counterattack. There are no images of the dead, naked Israeli woman being hauled through the street of Gaza City and spat upon by Gazans. There are no images of hostages from Israel being paraded around by their captors. It is as if October 7, 2023, never happened, that Israeli aggression sprang up on its own.
The Instagram feed of wizard_bisan1 came to me thanks to a list posted by a Facebook friend under the title “Who to Follow in and From Gaza.” (There are 26 names on the list, which seems to have made the rounds, so you don’t have to know my FB friend to access it.)
I investigated Ahmed Hijazee, the second name listed. There are two October 7 posts. No mention of what Israelis call The Black Sabbath. Nothing about hostages.
Skipping down to byplestia, the young reporter jumps from October 1 to October 9. The pre-October 7 reels feature glamorous shots of her. Many of her post-October reels feature her smiling with children, or close-ups of her wearing a professional blue press helmet and vest, as if she’s auditioning for a part. Graphic images of devastated Gaza are also there, of course. The October 7 terrorists attack, the plight of the hostages from Israel, seem to have been airbrushed from her reels.
The level of engagement wizard_bisan1, Ahmed Hijazee, and byplestia have received under their posts is impressive. For a recent post, as of this writing, wizard attracted 185,274 likes and 7,017 comments. Hijazee garnered 242,820 likes and 4,914 comments for one of his, and byplestia got 250,969 likes, 1,721 comments.
What the three reporters reinforced for me is that the Israel-Hamas War is a mismatch three times over. The first mismatch is obvious. With its modern jets, tanks, and Iron Dome defense system, Israel is a far superior fighting force. The second mismatch is also obvious. With 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, compared to 16 million Jews, Hamas has the overwhelming edge in the propaganda war.
The third mismatch pits two ideologies against each other, with the world serving as the arbiter of who is the winner.
This mismatch regards honoring the rules of engagement. Israel respects international restrictions, such as the protocols of the Geneva Convention of 1949. Hamas does not. Israel does not intentionally target non-combatants. Hamas does. The Israel Defense Force has not built tunnels for its commanders under hospitals, schools, and civilians’ homes. Hamas has.
Do I abhor the death and destruction visited upon Gaza City’s non-combatants? Yes, most sincerely. How I wish the war would end and all of the hostages would come home today.
That said, do people deny that Germany’s invasion of Poland in1939 preceded the destruction of Hamburg and Dresden, among others? Do they ignore Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in1941 that culminated with the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Too many people condemn Israel while ignoring Hamas’s October 7th invasion. For them, the plight of the hostages is a non-story. They naively applaud those valiant reporters documenting the destruction of Gaza with blinders.
Living in Tel Aviv, I am reminded every day of the nightmarish stories still unfolding about The Black Sabbath. Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers who follow civilized rules of engagement as they fight terrorists drive home the point that Israel’s cause is no less just than the Allies’ war against Hitler and his hoard.
Yes, war is hell. So is Hamas.