When the fog lifts…writes Emily Gian

August 10, 2014 by Emily Gian
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Over the past four weeks since Operation Protective Edge began, we have been subjected to images shrouded by the fog of war.

Emily Gian

Emily Gian

We hear stories of destruction in Gaza, plumes of fire, rockets and missiles, dead bodies. A cartoon from Leunig in the Melbourne Age or Le Lievre in the Sydney Morning Herald, much of it blaming Israel for the fighting and the death and passing moral judgement against one side alone with the consequences sweeping into western streets on a rising tide of anti-Semitism and violence against Jewish communities.

For the most part, there has been something missing in the reporting, the filmed and photographic images and in the cartoons. Leunig lectures to an Israeli soldier about how he defends his people but nowhere do we see the other side in this battle. The media would have us believe that the fight is being waged against the Palestinian people as if there was no Hamas. This has always been the intention of this so-called “Party of God” – a jihadi movement sworn to Israel’s destruction and whose strategy from the moment it instigated the fighting was to hide behind the fog of war, to manipulate the way in which it was covered and to gain public sympathy for its cause and rage against its enemy – Israel and the Jewish people.

I do not suggest that there has not been death or destruction which is a terrible thing to behold; nor do I suggest that accidents have not happened. I do say however, that the main cause of this tragedy is Hamas.

The fog is now beginning to lift and, as it does, we start seeing better through the lies of Hamas. As Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

The lifting of the fog is bringing to light the extent to which Hamas was able to manipulate many in a compliant media to its side of the story. According to the narrative, there were no Hamas fighters. We certainly saw nothing of them. They didn’t fire deadly missiles, at worst they might have been shooting off harmless little metal arrows and anyway, the Iron Dome knocked them out and there were virtually no casualties on the Israeli side and therefore no murderous. Nothing to cover and nothing to see. Indeed, the most menacing vision we saw from that side were the thugs in Paris letting off steam attacking synagogues – all mostly harmless stuff they say and all brought on by the Jews because of the way the IDF was fighting over there in Gaza.

That’s how the picture was painted; what Leunig and co meant when they delivered their moral judgement against one side in the conflict and one side only.

And now for the truth…

Hamas uses its own civilian population as human shields and Hamas attacks Israel’s population with murderous intent. That is two war crimes that it sought to cover up and partly succeeded thanks to some in the media who are sympathetic to its cause and/or hostile to Israel and many more others who were intimidated by a Hamas which routinely bullies journalists and photographers on the ground.

The Times of Israel has reported on “several incidents in which journalists were questioned and threatened. These included cases involving photographers who had taken pictures of Hamas operatives in comprising circumstances – gunmen preparing to shoot rockets from within civilian structures, and/or fighting in civilian clothing – and who were then approached by Hamas men, bullied and had their equipment taken away”.

As previously reported, an Italian journalist sent the twitter world into a spin when he was safely out of Gaza and tweeted, “Out of Gaza far from Hamas retaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday [sic] in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris”. All of a sudden, in 140 characters or less, we had a journalist telling us a number of things. Firstly, that he could be more truthful once out of Gaza. Secondly, that Hamas rockets were landing within Gaza and causing civilian casualties and thirdly, that Hamas men were trying to hide the evidence.

A few days later, a Finnish reporter noted that rockets were being launched from the car park of the Shifa hospital. The IDF has released videos of such actions, which were ignored, but it was far more difficult to ignore when they are witnessed by foreign reporters.

Then came a video from France 24. The reporter, Gallagher Fenwick, was reporting on the devastation in Gaza from the streets, when all of a sudden a rocket was launched from almost right behind him, causing him to duck out of view of the camera. When he returned to the screen, instead of making any meaningful mention about Hamas firing rockets from the civilian population, he stated that he would have to go because an Israeli retaliation was coming.

Suddenly, the cat was getting out of the bag.

The same reporter then came across something he certainly could not ignore. He found rocket launchers in what he said was “densely populated civilian areas” and worse than that, just 100 metres away, a blue UN flag, representing another UN building where terrorists were firing rockets either from or in very close vicinity.

The incident was also reported by NDTV, where the viewer was actually able to see terrorists setting up rockets underneath a tent and then launched from there the very next day. As the journalist notes, the tent is there so that the IDF cannot see them setting up, and then they remove in order to fire the rockets. They did this right next to the journalist’s hotel which as he also noted was in a very heavily populated area with hotels and apartment blocks.

This is most likely only the tip of the iceberg but as evidence of the Hamas cover ups, duplicity and lies mount, some journalists still refuse to admit they have been duped. Our very own Fairfax correspondent Ruth Pollard continues to churn out her daily narrative accepting the word of one side and sceptically skirting around anything Israel claims.

I suppose it’s not incumbent on journalists to necessarily believe the IDF, even with its plethora of video footage of Hamas firing from schools, cemeteries, escaping in ambulances and the like but when the foreign journalists, many of whom have already proved themselves unreliable witnesses and have been on the spot confirm what the IDF has been saying, it becomes a little more difficult to ignore. But why rely on that when all you really need to do is take Hamas’ own words for it.

There are some very important Hamas documents and statements that could go a long way in explaining what Hamas’ true intentions are.

Firstly – the Hamas Covenant which expresses its genocidal intent. Statements such as, “”There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are a waste of time and a farce” and “’Israel will exist, and will continue to exist, until Islam abolishes it”;

Secondly – the statements of the Hamas leadership from the spokesman’s mouth – “We call on our Palestinian people, particularly the residents of northwest Gaza, not to obey what is written in the pamphlets distributed by the Israeli occupation army,” Hamas announced through official media channels on July 13. “We call on them to remain in their homes and disregard the demands to leave, however serious the threat may be”; and

Thirdly, the handbook on Hamas Urban Warfare.

The handbook has only recently come to light but is just as damning as the first two and it is so inconvenient for the usual suspects in the media that they will no doubt seek to airbrush it out of existence along with those missing Hamas fighters.

The warfare manual exposes two truths: (1) The terror group knows full well that the IDF will do what it can to limit civilian casualties. (2) The terror group exploits these efforts by using civilians as human shields against advancing IDF forces.

To answer the question why we never see Hamas terrorists in the press – “The Ministry of the Interior and National Security would like to make our people aware that they should refrain from disseminating photographs of martyrs of the resistance,” the post from Hamas said. “Do not disseminate the location of their death in battle, because the enemy collects these details and uses them to justify and excuse its crimes.”

Meanwhile, the 72-hour ceasefire held until just four hours before it was due to expire, when two rockets landed in Israeli territory. It officially expires at 8am (3pm AEST), but Hamas has already been threatening to start firing rockets again as their demands are not being met. An Al-Jazeera cameraman went into Gaza to see that rockets are still aimed at Israel, ready to fire at any time.

Where to from here? What lessons have we learnt from the way in which the situation played out in the media? And is there any way this can be prevented when the next inevitable war happens?

The answer is probably no. The media has been duped, they know they have been duped and yet many are still continuing on with the same old story.

The lifting of the fog of war might well give Israel some opportunities. At some stage, the world will wake up to the evil of Hamas and how it treacherously exposed its own people to danger and death. The international donors who pumped millions into Gaza in the belief they were providing humanitarian relief for the population will not be happy (excepting perhaps Qatar)  to discover the money they donated was funnelled into building weapons and creating terror tunnels to attack Israeli civilians. The Palestine Authority has been reasonably measured throughout and even, at times critical of Hamas’ actions. However remote it might seem, the possibility is there as the fog lifts for continued diplomacy to bring about a demilitarised Gaza and further down the track, hopefully, a peaceful resolution to the overall conflict.

POST SCRIPT: As I wrote this, I read that American President Barack Obama has ordered airstrikes against ISIS, saying, “we can act carefully and responsibly to prevent a potential act of genocide”. I wonder whether anyone will bother to understand that the genocidal intentions of ISIS and those of Hamas are exactly the same.

Emily Gian is the Israel Advocacy Analyst at the Zionist Council of Victoria and a PhD Candidate in Israeli Literature at the University of Melbourne

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