Media promote Israeli distortions as civilians dodge airstrikes in Gaza

Relatives of Zaina al-Amour, who was killed by an Israeli airstrike, mourn during her funeral east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 5 May.

Ramadan Elagha APA images

In recent days, has Israel launched a series of aggressive military actions in the besieged Gaza Strip, killing a Palestinian woman and injuring several other people, including three children.

And like clockwork, mainstream Western media swooped in to throw the narrative in Israel’s favor, brushing aside Israel’s relentless violations of the Gaza ceasefire and its killings of dozens of civilians in the besieged territory.

But first, the facts.

Israel started it

As is almost always the case, the Israeli military initiated the latest round of violence with ground incursions into Gaza as part of a supposed mission to destroy cross-border tunnels.

This is the same pretext Israel used to justify its ferocious military assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014, which killed 2,251 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians, 551 of them children.

The independent inquiry commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council into the 2014 assault found that Hamas “tunnels were only used to conduct attacks directed at IDF [Israeli army] positions in Israel in the vicinity of the Green Line [the Israel-Gaza boundary], which are legitimate military targets.”

Despite this, Israel continued to whip up fears – often aided by pliant outlets such as The New York Times – about Palestinian “terror tunnels” leading into kindergartens, as a way to justify Israel’s cruelty towards Gaza.

The Israeli army claims to have located such a tunnel in recent days based on information it says it extracted from a captured member of Hamas.

It is also possible that Israel is using this as an opportunity to test out anti-tunnel technology it has been developing with a $120 million grant from the US administration of President Barack Obama.

Hamas insists the tunnel Israel discovered is old and predates the 2014 war.

The Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz cited senior Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk, explaining that Israeli forces had been attempting to “set new facts on the ground 150 meters inside Gaza which he said ‘compelled resistance forces to intervene.’”

The Israeli army said that Hamas fired “more than five mortar rounds at forces during operational activities adjacent to the security fence with the Gaza Strip.”

According to the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, since 3 May, Israeli forces had made incursions into two separate areas near the Gaza boundary to a distance of up to 300 meters into the territory.

It called the incursions – which Israel’s military spokesperson acknowledged – a “clear violation of the ceasefire agreement in 2014 and a new aggression on the Gaza Strip.”

Palestinians have every reason to be concerned about Israel trying to expand its self-declared “buffer zone” inside the boundary with Gaza. This is an area extending hundreds of meters into Gaza where Israel has killed and injured dozens of Palestinians in recent years who were simply trying to grow essential food supplies on their farmland.

Qassam said Israel should “stop invoking reasons to justify its violations, and should leave the Gaza Strip immediately.”

But instead Israel escalated the situation by pounding Gaza with at least 29 artillery shells and 11 air strikes since Wednesday, according to a tally by the group Euro-Mid Monitor for Human Rights.

One of these strikes killed 54-year-old Palestinian grandmother Zaina Attia al-Amour at her family’s farm in the al-Foukhari neighborhood near the Gaza boundary.

As Gaza-based journalist Mohammed Omer reported, “Al-Foukhari was one of the worst-hit areas during the 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza, with many people killed and some trapped underneath the rubble of their homes until rescue teams were able to dig them out days later.”


As Israel’s airstrikes once again terrorize an already traumatized population, Western media outlets have rushed to Israel’s aid, promoting its government talking points about Hamas tunnels.

“Israel finds Hamas tunnel under border with Gaza” blared a headline in The Guardian, which buried vague details about Palestinian casualties in the eleventh paragraph.

In an article titled, “Israelis Find Second Tunnel From Gaza and May Know of Others,” The New York Times toed the Israeli line about tunnels completely unchallenged.

Still, that wasn’t enough for Israeli army spokesperson Peter Lerner, who took issue with the Times’ rare, albeit probably unintentional, acknowledgement that “the Israeli effort to find tunnels from Gaza, which Hamas considers a strategic asset, has led to a flare-up of violence along the border in recent days.”

“#Hamas terror tunnels caused the flare-up,” Lerner protested in a tweet to the Times.

What ceasefire?

The Associated Press pinned the blame entirely on Palestinians, reporting, “Gaza militants have fired mortar rounds at Israel over the past three days, prompting Israeli retaliation.”

In perhaps the most convoluted revisionism of all, the AP added that “Hamas used tunnels to attack Israel during the 50-day Gaza war in 2014 and fired thousands of rockets. The recent exchanges of fire are among the most serious since the war ended.”

The Guardian ran with a similar line, painting Palestinian fire at invading Israeli soldiers as “the most serious escalation since the end of the 2014 Gaza war,” adding, “Israel and Hamas have largely observed a ceasefire.”

These claims are categorically false and erase from history Israel’s killings of dozens of Palestinians in the last year.

Indeed the ceasefire, if there is one, is completely one-sided.

Just last month, Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon admitted that Hamas has “not fired a single bullet” since the ceasefire went into effect.

A senior Israeli commander even told Haaretz this week that “Hamas had created a force to police the border region, preventing terrorist attacks and rocket fire at Israel.”

Israel, by contrast, has flouted the ceasefire so frequently, it is difficult to keep track of the violations.

In the first few months alone, Israel violated the ceasefire almost daily.

As journalist Dan Cohen recalls, “During the four months I have spent in Gaza since the August 2014 ceasefire, I have seen and heard Israeli gunfire on a daily basis.”

Indeed, the Israeli army never stopped firing on Gaza’s fishermen as well as at Palestinians near the boundary.

Israel killed 25 Palestinians in Gaza in 2015, according to the UN monitoring group OCHA.

Many of them, including two children, were shot dead while protesting Israel’s devastating siege near the Gaza border.

A Palestinian toddler and her pregnant mother were killed by an Israeli airstrike in October.

Six Palestinians in Gaza have been killed so far this year, including 9-year-old Yassin Abu Khussa and his 6-year-old sister Isra.

The youngsters were killed by an Israeli airstrike as they slept in their beds.

Collective yawn

The international community has almost always responded to these killings with a collective yawn, raising their voices only when the occupied retaliate.

Palestinians, it seems, are expected to stand down, to tolerate their ghettoization in silence and to let their occupier subjugate them in peace and relative quiet.

But Palestinians in Gaza refuse to play by those rules.

“We do not call for a new war, but we will not allow these incursions or for new realities to be imposed on our people in Gaza,” said Hamas deputy leader Ismail Haniyeh on Friday.

“We call for lifting the siege,” he added, referring to the illegal Israeli blockade by air, land and sea that has cut Gaza off from the outside world for almost a decade. “Enough of this historical injustice suffered by two million of our people.”

Dozens of international human rights organizations and development agencies called for sanctions on Israel if it didn’t lift the siege — a form of relentless, silent aggression against an entire population.

But since that call a year ago, Israel has continued to enjoy complete impunity.

The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was similarly indignant, calling Israel’s incursions an attempt to “test the patience of resistance” and vowing that it “will not stand idly by while Israel continues its crimes against Palestinian people.”

And Islamic Jihad accused Israel of attacking civilians to “push the resistance to reciprocate.”

Israel, meanwhile, reserves the right to continue military provocations and assaults in Gaza indefinitely and has labeled any Palestinian resistance to its violence as terrorism, which is exactly how Western media outlets continue, compliantly, to frame it.




...and if they wanted to stop them cheaply and proactively, they only have drive some rebar every 5' around Gaza and put some geophones/vibration sensors on every other one.

Cost: $100K.
Effectiveness: 100%.
Propaganda/rationale for killing with impunity value: ZERO.

Heck, the show Mythbusters did an experiment basef on 3000 year old Chinese anti-siege measures where they built a big underground drum (literally) to listen for tunneling. The Mythbuster drum amplified incoming digging sounds. It worked. Geophones are the modern equivalent.

There are probably a dozen other known technologies that have been around for decades (oil exploration tech) capable of determining underground structure/voids.

Point being either Israel is the most profoundly mismanaged security apparatus, or it is completely insincere in everything it says and does, or both. My vote is both.


Larry, I vote the latter only and I would ask you to reconsider yours. Your own illustration shows that a more effective containment of Hamas resistance would be propaganda suicide for a "Greater Israel" agenda, while the current method of 'controlling' Palestine must lead eventually to the complete breakdown of Palestinian civil society and national cohesion, with eventual removal a stronger possibility than statehood; international intervention having been forestalled due to Israel's self portrayal as victims of "terrorism".
The more effective containment policy would likely lead to that intervention and demands for Palestinian absorption into Israel.


Israel takes advantage of every opportunity provided by Hamas military wing and the outliers, who fire rockets or otherwise exercise their 'right to resist'. These efforts, which are usually directed at civilians in Israel or are indiscriminate in their targeting, may indeed be in violation of international law, but that's not the point I'm trying to make. They hand Israel an excuse card which Israel can then elect to 'play' whenever it suits. Or the tunnel business can be invoked - even if the tunnel(s) in question are old and abandoned (at least for the moment). So Hamas, etc. actually hands the initiative over to Israel. And the reports about how the NY Times and the Guardian ate Israeli hasbara propaganda and printed what they printed, etc. demonstrates once again how much control and power Israel has in the situation, especially given their almost automatic sympathy in the world press with photos of kids in Sderot cowering in concrete shelters.

Question is, what should Gazan leadership do? It's clear that firing rockets or other forms of violence will not accomplish anything except (perhaps) make the perps feel better. Hamas must stick to its strong position honouring the ceasefire, and must control the outlier groups. Take the moral high ground and win the PR battle. Yes, Israel may concoct reasons for attacking, but the death of the grandmother will then reflect negatively on Israel. This will be very difficult; as I've said Israel will concoct reasons. But credibility will shift to favour the Gazans - over time. Just think of how much public sympathy for Palestinians' plight was lost when suicide bombers were blowing up families in pizza restos, or teenagers on the beach in Tel Aviv, or shoppers going into supermarkets.supermarkets, or a group of older Israeli Jews celebrating Passover were blown apart in a hotel. And what an excuse it gave Israel to crack down while public opinion was entrirely on their side? Study Ghandian methods!!


Bernie, studying Ghandian methods is fine and dandy buy unfortunately, Israel has studied British methods for dealing with resistance to occupation and it’s not repeating the empire’s mistakes. And when they do, such as massacring thousands 2014, the West’s NGO’s and legal international bodies take so long to review the evidence that their investigations are a delay of justice that amounts to a denial of it, which is par for the course.
Ironically, just prior to the invasion, Gaza had seen a sustained period of relative calm; Hamas was doing the job you expect of them, then the kidnapping that indicted the whole of Gaza. I won’t go into it, as it fits your description of Israeli justification propaganda and it’s a sermon I would spare this choir.
Anyway, the point being, I think there is a limit to what can be expected of any government, with regard to disregarding the will of its people, while keeping the power to do so. You’ve intimated yourself that Israel expertly forces the Palestinians to walk a line it’s nearly impossible to balance and yet you expect Hamas to remain in power without resisting an occupying force that, at its leisure, pushes, prods and trips them up at every turn.
Perhaps we expect too much?

Rania Khalek

Rania Khalek's picture

Rania Khalek is an independent journalist reporting on the underclass and marginalized.