Peaceful or Pestilent? An In-Depth Analysis of Hamas Protests in Gaza

We have seen many expressing outrage about the perception that Israel has been using live ammunition against peaceful protesters in Gaza. Chris Hayes, of MSNBC, spoke out on his April 4, 2018 broadcast of “All In with Chris Hayes,” to condemn Israel for killing 15 and injuring “750” Palestinians at the March 30, 2018 protests, dubbed the “Great Return March,” who were simply exercising their right to peacefully protest. Hayes was praised for being brave enough to “tell the truth” by notoriously antisemitic sources such as David Icke and Mondoweiss.

The problem is, Hayes doesn’t know if he was telling the truth. He was conveying what Hamas, and only Hamas, relayed as having occurred.  When you rely on a terrorist organization to provide you with an accurate version of events, and you report those as fact, you run the risk of reporting fiction, which is exactly what Chris Hayes did. It’s not shocking that Hayes reported events based on the Hamas-crafted narrative without a respectable disclaimer that the information was not verifiable, in accordance with standard journalistic ethos. He has an unfortunate history of making antisemitic statements on Twitter for which he’s had to apologize (sort of).  He seems to have allowed his personal biases regarding Jews or Israel to affect his reporting.  And sadly, people took his words as the gospel truth.  And so it goes.

Hamas is the governing entity of Gaza, elected in 2006.  Hamas is a designated terror organization in the US, the EU, Canada, Egypt, UAE, Jordan, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, among other countries.  Nothing happens in Gaza without Hamas controlling both the outcome and the optics.  No outside journalists have reported from the ground in Gaza on what’s occurred during the now four “Great Return Marches,” so Hamas has maintained strict control of what the world sees and perceives. By now, one would assume that people would maintain a healthy dose of skepticism in taking the word of a designated terrorist organization since we’ve been down this road so many times over the decades.  But, somehow, people tend to see what they want to see based on their personal biases and will latch on to the “facts” that most closely align with those biases, as evidenced in the current contentious political climates in the US and the UK.

There is no possible way to verify the validity of the numbers or causes of the casualties that have been reported by Hamas. There has been no outside access granted to examine the injured or the deceased, and there is no corroborating video footage for any of these injuries or killings as they occurred, despite the large numbers of Gaza photographers present.  We know that Hamas has been exposed for practicing the feigning of injuries as seen in the video below (key portion located at 0:51):

رصاص الاحتلال المتفجر يصيب 3 شبان دفعة واحدة

#شاهد رصاص الاحتلال المتفجر يصيب 3 شبان دفعة واحدة خلال مشاركتهم في مسيرات العودة على حدود القطاع

Posted by Shehab News Agency on Tuesday, 3 April 2018

So as one can see, there is some doubt cast on the veracity of the injuries experienced on-camera, and off-camera, in Gaza.

Additionally, despite the absence of a film industry in Gaza, there are several special effects make-up artists whose vocational focus is in creating realistic-looking wounds.  These artists have been highlighted in the video below:

A reasonable person would consider the implications presented by examining these two videos as an aggregate.  One wonders why these techniques are being developed when the primary media products coming out of Gaza are depicted as legitimate protest and injury videos.  Exactly.

Then there is the issue of the “unarmed, peaceful protesters.”  We’ve seen this characterization repeated by mainstream media as if it’s accurate, with Hamas, again, as the sole source of this information.  Once upon a time, journalists would perform at least some due diligence to determine the accuracy of the information being presented, but it seems this is rarely effectuated in the current climate of journalism.

To ascertain what’s being conveyed to the Arabic-speaking world regarding the “Great Return Marches,” one can survey the @hamasinfo in Arabic and @PalinfoAr Twitter accounts by enabling the translation option.  It’s not a perfect translation, but the gist of what’s being communicated is quite clear.

Screenshot from @hamasinfo on Twitter

As indicated by the remarks in this Hamas post on the first day of the “Great Return March,” it’s clear that its goals are to “impose equations,” “extract rights,” “seize the right of return,” and “break the siege.”  These are not passive or peaceful verbs.  These verbs are aggressive, forceful, and loudly proclaim their objective of an incursion into Israel’s sovereign territory.  The very title of these Friday rallies, “Great Return March,” confirms Hamas’ goal to break through the internationally-recognized border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, based on the green line, and take control of land that is the undisputed, legal dominion of Israel.

Furthermore, the actions captured by various photographers at these marches support this goal by displaying teenagers and young men pulling, cutting, and dismantling the border fence, as seen in these videos embedded within these Twitter posts and screenshots:

Screenshot from @PalinfoAr on Twitter

 

Screenshot from @PalinfoAr on Twitter

 

Screenshot from @PalinfoAr on Twitter

Now that we’ve established that the goal of these rallies is not a peaceful protest to make the voices of the people of Gaza heard, as characterized by the Chris Hayes of the world, let’s look at how agents of Hamas are depicting these rallies on English-language social media pages contrasted by depictions on Arabic-language social media pages.

Screenshot from Facebook Page of Hassan M Shoaap

 

Screenshot from @PalinfoAr on Twitter

 

Screenshot from Facebook Page of Hassan M Shoaap
Screenshot from Facebook Page of Hassan M Shoaap

 

Screenshot from Facebook Page of Hassan M Shoaap
Screenshot from @PalinfoAr on Twitter

 

Screenshot from Facebook Page of Hassan M Shoaap
Screenshot from @PalinfoAr on Twitter

 

Screenshot from Facebook Page of Hassan M Shoaap

 

Screenshot from @PalinfoAr on Twitter

 

Screenshot from Facebook Page of Hassan M Shoaap

 

Screenshot from @PalinfoAr on Twitter

The disparity in messaging highlighted by these two very different presentations should be enough to demonstrate how these protests are being portrayed to the West vs. the Arabic-speaking world.  The West is getting a false depiction of what is actually occurring at these marches and their true purpose.  They hear the words, “unarmed, peaceful protests” and immediately think of the West’s version of protests and believe it to be true.

Of these comparisons, I’d like to point out that the parents who were covering their mouths while guiding their small child due to the non-existent “Israeli gas canisters” also chose to bring their small child to a march where thousands of tires were burned, on purpose.  Ridiculous, right?  But a lot of people fell for it.  That photo of Hassan’s got 141 impressions and 95 shares.

Which brings us to the topic of children.  The objective is clearly not a peaceful protest, so why do the Palestinians bring their small children to such a dangerous environment?  What kind of parent does this?  Even 10 and 12-year olds are involved in the border fence destruction and stand as human shields as highlighted in the @Palinfoar photo about “youth rebels” seen behind sandbags.

Screenshot from @PalinfoAr on Twitter

Images like the one above touch the hearts of compassionate, thoughtful Westerners. Logical thought and a demand for facts give way to emotions evoked by seeing the vulnerability of an innocent child in a climate of suffering.  Once emotion takes hold, reason disappears and the likelihood that the lies of a terrorist group are embraced as truth when accompanied with images like this is almost inevitable.  When Jews attempt to challenge this perception, we are seen as cold and uncaring, and subsequently disbelieved.  We try to explain with facts when facts no longer matter – only perceptions matter to the emotionally captivated.  Western mindsets cannot conceive of a reality where children are used as props, human shields, or martyred for a religious cause.  They can’t fathom this.  It’s completely foreign to them.

The result, of course, is animus toward Jews, repackaged as hatred for Israel or Zionists, even though most who claim to hate Zionists can’t even define the word.

Antisemitism has risen rapidly and exponentially across Europe and the West.  At this writing, four Jewish men were violently attacked in New York City in the past week.  Mireille Knoll, an 85-year old Holocaust survivor, was stabbed to death in her apartment in France by her Jewhating neighbor because she was Jewish just a month ago.  She is the 11th antisemitic-based murder in France in the past decade.  Numerous US politicians and political candidates have shared antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jews that barely moved the needle in the current news cycle.  Jews in the UK are experiencing an alarming epidemic of antisemitism that has festered and grown within the Labour party.  Jews around the world are once again scared.  We’ve seen where this leads.  I suspect that those of us born after the genocides have inherited this recognition through our DNA.  We see it coming far before the rest of the world.  Our fear is justified.

Even if we can’t convince the average Westerner, journalists like Chris Hayes should adhere to a much higher standard.  Information presented must be substantiated at a much higher threshold than “a terrorist group told me so.”  I lost a very dear friend because of an argument that ensued as a result of the Chris Hayes fictional report.

The child in the last photo is standing in a shape outlined by rocks next to a replica of the al-Aqsa mosque, built on top of the ruins of the second Jewish temple when the Rashidun caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab conquered Jerusalem in 637 CE.  In Islam, the significance of this mosque is no greater than that of any other mosque. Islam’s holy cities are in Mecca and Medina, the birthplaces of Islam. The attachment to al-Aqsa is purely sentimental, yet it’s used as another artifice to deny Jews our place in Jerusalem.  Below is a wider view of the image in which he stands:

Screenshot from @PalinfoAr on Twitter

The rocks are in the shape of the State of Israel.  This is what the goal of the “unarmed, peaceful protests” are; to destroy the border fence and embark on a mass invasion from Gaza into Israel, to reclaim the land as theirs and murder any Jew they come across.  Hamas is very clear on this as evidenced by their words at the top of this article, coupled with the words in their Covenant.  If they achieve their goal, the live fire foisted upon those breaching the border fence will look trivial compared to the blood bath that will ensue on both sides from such an incursion.  Israel is trying to prevent that.  The Hamas protesters are well-armed, despite declarations to the contrary.  And as such, they would murder thousands of Jews if given the opportunity.

As the April 6th “Great Return March” concluded and the masses went back to their homes, a reminder was left in the field for the Jews looking on.

Source: IDF Spokesperson Unit

We get the message loud and clear, Hamas. And this is why Israel is deadly serious about the protecting the integrity of the border fence.

About the Author
Debbie Hall is a writer and activist living in the diaspora.
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