This was a terror march, not a land march

Last Friday, Hamas terrorists attempted to infiltrate Israel at the Gaza border under cover of a peaceful protest. A number of their operatives launched a violent attack and in the aftermath, at least 17 Palestinians were killed by the IDF. A further number were injured though no accurate figures are as yet available. But that has not stopped the usual orgy of inaccuracy, misreporting and misrepresentation.

The Guardian talked of a peaceful protest for ‘refugees and their descendants to return to their ancestral homes in Israel.’ The killings were a ‘wake up call to the world’ about Israel’s ‘intransigence.’ The Independent called it a ‘return march’ which had brought about a ‘ruthless’ Israeli response. The headline in the New York Times (before true casualty figures was known) was telling. ‘Israeli Military Kills 8 in Confrontations on Gaza Border.’ Of course, President Erdogan weighed in, blasting Israel’s ‘inhumane response’ and calling the deaths a ‘massacre.’

Judging by words like ‘protest’ and ‘march,’ one pictures a group of civilians engaging in a peaceful rally against Israeli policy. It also conjures up an image of trigger happy Israeli soldiers picking off innocents for fun. While some protestors were peaceful, they provided cover for the violent riot which was designed to kill and maim Israelis and breach the country’s border fence.

This attempted enemy infiltration was accompanied by acts of violence: the use of Molotov cocktails, rocks hurled towards Israeli soldiers, tyres set on fire and live gunfire directed towards the IDF. Israel was entitled to defend its sovereign border from a violent enemy attack. Moreover, any country facing a comparable threat would have responded with force, and been right to do so.

If the descriptions in the media are to be believed, those shot by the IDF were all innocents. This is simply not the case. The IDF released images of 10 people killed on the first day, showing that they were affiliated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Even Hamas has accepted that five of those mentioned were affiliated with the organisation’s military wing, describing them as mujaheddin. Let us not forget that Hamas seeks to purge the world of Jews and continues to demand Israel’s obliteration. As its leader Yahya Sinwar put it: ‘The March of Return affirms that our people can’t give up one inch of the land of Palestine.’

Some Palestinians wasted no opportunity to create ‘fake news’. One video shows a Palestinian being shot but from a position where it would have been impossible for the IDF to have hit him, meaning that his injuries were faked. Seasoned observers of this conflict call this Pallywood. They know that even the most amateurish attempts to create staged atrocities can pull in the gullible and ensure that falsehoods have global reach.

Such is Hamas’ cynical and inhumane betrayal of its own people that it even sent a seven year old girl into battle, hoping that her death would spark an international propaganda frenzy to inspire further Palestinian riots. It was Israeli soldiers that rescued her.

What the media should do, if only to provide context, is remind their readers that Hamas has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on creating an infrastructure of terror. Instead of using these vast sums to improve Gaza’s water supply and meet the basic needs of its citizens, some 40% of whom are unemployed, Hamas has spent money on rockets and tunnels.

Now that Israel has measures in place to counter those threats, the Islamists are resorting to mass infiltration of Israel’s borders. This is designed to spark a media frenzy in which Israel will face global demonisation but also to galvanise Palestinians in the West Bank who may gravitate to Hamas in forthcoming elections.

Of course, there is a debate within Israel about the best ways to control such situations in the future. It is only wise and right that such processes happen in a democracy. But the world should not be blind to Hamas’ human shields policy and its destructive attitude to the people of Gaza. They deserve better than to be ruled by these despots.

About the Author
Jeremy is an author and the Director of B'nai Brith UK's Bureau of International Affairs
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