It was, supposedly, yet another IDF atrocity: the Times of Israel reported Saturday that Hamas had “denounced as ‘barbaric’ overnight strikes by the Israel Defense Forces — in response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip — that it said damaged a children’s hospital in the Palestinian enclave.” Reality, as always, was different, but as the old saying goes, a lie travels around the world before the truth has finished tying its shoes.
The IDF, according to the TOI, “flatly denied hitting the hospital, and said exploding Hamas munitions may have done so. The IDF said it struck three Hamas targets in the predawn hours of Saturday morning, including a rocket manufacturing site, underground infrastructure and a military post, after two rockets were fired from Gaza earlier in the evening.”
But Hamas said that the strikes “had damaged a nearby children’s hospital and a center for people with special needs.” However, as the Israeli military notes, Hamas “deliberately places military targets at the heart of densely populated areas,” so as to maximize the propaganda value of retaliatory strikes. Israel “takes all possible precautions to avoid harming civilians and civilian buildings.”
This atrocity manufacturing once again raises the question: if Gaza is really so terrible, why all the fakery? For this “barbaric” strike was just the latest of innumerable examples of the deception that is perpetrated on an industrial scale by Palestinian propagandists in order to make Israel seem to be an oppressive occupying power. The breadth and sophistication of this deception, and its deleterious international effects, is explored at length in The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process.
A cornerstone of the “Palestinian” cause in the court of world opinion is projection and deception on a massive scale. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, declared: “War is deceit.” (Bukhari, vol. 4, book 56, no. 3030) He also elucidated the conditions under which deceit was permissible: “It is not lawful to lie except in three cases: Something the man tells his wife to please her, to lie during war, and to lie in order to bring peace between the people.”
Palestinian leaders have refined lying during war into a fine art. Palestinian spokesmen set out to portray Israel as an outrageously repressive regime, routinely committing atrocities against the Palestinian people, who deserved aid from the international community as much as the Israelis warranted condemnation.
This initiative, too, has been wildly successful. The United Nations condemns Israel far more often than any other nation; many of these condemnations have been based on reports about Israeli atrocities that were entirely fabricated. World opinion has largely turned against Israel as well, as it has an international reputation today of being one of the world’s most unjust and repressive regimes.
Chicanery with photos is quite common. Abdullah Alsaafin, who described himself on Twitter as a “journalist and media trainer,” on August 9, 2018 tweeted a photo of a cute, smiling toddler, with this explanation: “This baby, Bayan abu khamash, 2 years old, was killed last night along with her pregnant mother when an Israeli rocket hit their house in Gaza Strip town of Der elbalah.” The photo, however, was not of Bayan abu Khamash at all, but of an American girl named Elle Lively McBroom. Alsaafin, or his source, picked up the little girl’s photo from Instagram, apparently at random, in order to present the world with another Israeli atrocity. There is no certainty that Bayan abu Khamash was killed by Israelis, or killed at all, or even that she really ever existed.
The international media often accepted Palestinian claims uncritically and spread them throughout the world. The value of this coverage is so high that Hamas is willing to pay for fake atrocities. In 2018, the jihad group paid 8,000 shekels (approximately $2,200) to the family of an eight-month-old baby, Layla al-Ghandour, in return for their claim that the little girl had been killed by Israeli tear gas during the Gaza border riots. This was, as far as Hamas was concerned, money well spent: the girl’s death made international headlines, and a chorus of new condemnations of Israel. Seham Al Ghandour, Layla’s mother, played her part to the hilt, telling reporters: “I went looking for my daughter and they told me she was taken to the hospital. I went to the hospital and I knew she was dead.” Little Layla’s aunt, Fatma Al Ghandour, pointed the finger: “They did not have mercy on a girl, they threw gas bombs at her, they killed her with tear gas. They did not have mercy on the children or anyone else. What is she guilty of to die like this?” EuroNews intoned solemnly: “Traditionally, May 15th is the day Palestinians mark the ‘Nakba’ or ‘Catastrophe’. But this year, they have even more reasons to grieve.”
But in reality, Layla al-Ghandour suffered from a heart defect known as patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), which is more commonly known as a hole in the heart. That was what killed her, not the tear gas.
Hamas was so anxious to have Palestinian civilian casualties that it could parade before the world in order to gain propaganda victories that in April 2018, as protests raged at the Gaza border, the terror group offered $500 to “Palestinians” for getting shot and wounded at the border, and $3,000 to the families of those who got themselves killed during the protests.
The increasing virulence of Leftist opposition to Israel shows that this sort of thing works. It is a propaganda success that Josef Goebbels and the editors of Pravda would have envied, and it became the foundation for more. Having established the Palestinians as a tiny indigenous people whose land was stolen by rapacious, well-heeled, and oppressive foreigners, it was time to return to the negotiating table – not in order to achieve any genuine accord with Israel, but to exploit the victimhood status of the new tiny people they had invented in order to win valuable concessions from the Israelis.
And it worked.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.