Hamas’s strategy relies on complicity of western media

Hamas orchestrates the suffering of its own people because it knows how the West will react, and hopes the outrage will stop the IDF. It doesn’t even bother keeping it a secret


Released hostages Andrey Kozlov and Almog Meir arrive at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, June 8, 2024. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90 חטופים מלחמה חרבות ברזל איכילוב חיילים הגעה

June 10, 2024 15:18

Shabbat was an emotional rollercoaster. We had the dream-like rescue of the four hostages, including Noa Argamani, who had become so familiar it felt like we knew her personally. Then, in short order, we had videos of celebrations on Tel Aviv beach; clips of elated parents rushing to be reunited with their children amid crowds of singing neighbours; footage of the meetings themselves, enough to make the hardest heart weep; details of the courage and skill of the IDF special forces who carried out the rescue; then the heartbreaking news that one of the commanders had lost his life in the fighting.

As surely as night follows day, alongside this came the media narrative. As usual, Hamas released implausible numbers of civilian casualties with implausible speed, an implausible number of whom were apparently “women and children”. In recent months, acres of newsprint have made clear that the terror group’s statistics are not to be trusted. Yet the media trusted them anyway, at best burying a get-out-of-jail disclaimer about the “Hamas controlled health ministry” deep in their stories. Some outlets even mischaracterised the rescue as a “release”, as if the terrorists had welcomed the IDF with knafeh and mint tea.

It is true that the operation claimed the lives of innocent civilians, every one of which was a tragedy. But in its appetite for the narrative of Israeli blood lust, the media succumbed to collective amnesia. What about the fact that Hamas started the firefight in the heart of a residential area? What about the realities of being an infantryman under fire in an urban environment in the chaos and terror of war? What about the much higher numbers of civilians commonly killed by British and American troops in combat? What about the way in which Hamas refused to distinguish between dead combatants and civilians? What about the fact that Hamas was holding the Israelis in a busy part of town to use their own people as human shields? What about the basic truth that Hamas could have avoided all this by not taking the hostages in the first place? All this was swept away in a torrent of Israelophobia.

Before long, the heroic rescue had been fashioned into another Israeli atrocity. A BBC presenter asked former Israeli spokesman Jonathan Conricus why the Israelis had not warned the enemy that the IDF was about to carry out the raid. Because Hamas would kill the hostages and this would “defeat the purpose”, he drily replied. Then came the BBC News alert that has since become notorious: “Blood stained the walls – Palestinians describe horror as Israeli forces freed four hostages in Gaza.” The horror of freeing Noa Argamani!

The disgrace of all this is that Hamas has never hidden its evil – in fact, it has revelled in it, videoed it and beamed it out to the world – and makes no secret of its strategy. The terror group has designed Gaza to create as many civilian casualties as possible in any Israeli attack. The entire population of the Strip could easily fit into the network of terror tunnels, as Londoners took refuge from the bombs in the Underground during the Blitz. But Hamas does not let them in. It has not built a single bomb shelter. Its strategy is not one of human shields so much as human sacrifice.

It is time to recognise that Hamas places its own people in harm’s way simply because it understands how the international media will respond, not to mention the United Nations, NGOs and the world’s progressives.

It knew that embedding the hostages in the narrow streets and higgledy-piggledy buildings of Nuseirat would mean that any Israeli rescue would end with the UN’s special rapporteur smearing the operation as “humanitarian camouflage”, in a tweet that was viewed five million times, and the EU’s foreign affairs chief condemning “another massacre of civilians”, gaining another 1.4 million views.

It knew that Sky News’s special correspondent Alex Crawford would highlight the “graphic pictures of what’s being called an ‘horrific massacre’”. It knew that such an operation would trigger intensified calls for a ceasefire, which would allow Hamas to survive.

Imagine if after October 7 the United States and Britain had sent troops into Gaza to support the IDF (after all, Americans and Britons were taken hostage, too). Imagine if the UN, EU, NGOs and international media had treated Hamas as they did Islamic State when it rampaged through Iraq, Syria and Europe a few years ago, using barbarity that in many cases was indistinguishable from that of Hamas. Imagine if the world had united to condemn, dismantle and destroy the terror group and bring peace to Gaza. The war would have been much quicker and more decisive, with far fewer innocent dead.

It is depressing how difficult this is to visualise. The way in which Hamas orchestrates the suffering of its own people is a consequence of the response it knows the West will provide. Is it an exaggeration to say that the media has blood on its hands?

June 10, 2024 15:18

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