Three Media Myths about the Riot in Gaza

Authored by: Matt Palumbo

Israeli Defense Forces clashes with thousands of Palestinian rioters in the Gaza Strip on the day the U.S. moved our embassy to Jerusalem, which is finally being recognized as the capitol of Israel. Sixty-two Palestinians were killed breaching the border of Israel – after the Israeli airforce dropped leaflets over Gaza, warning that those who approached and breached the border would be risking their lives. “The Israel Defense Forces is determined to defend Israel’s citizens and sovereignty against Hamas’ attempts at terrorism undercover of violent riots,” the leaflets say. “Don’t get near the fence and don’t take part in Hamas’ show, which endangers you.”

And despite that, the media has had no trouble doing PR for Hamas, portraying those killed as innocents. And that’s hardly the only cover they’re providing in defense of the terror group, so let’s give some of the common claims a look.

     1. The Rioters Killed Were Unarmed and Peaceful

This one was the easiest to debunk, because Hamas leadership speaks openly on Arab television about their intentions. On the Palestinian “Baladna” news network, Hamas official Salah Bardawil confirmed that 50 of those killed were Hamas members (which he was complaining about). “In the last rounds of confrontations, if 62 people were martyred, Fifty of the martyrs were Hamas and 12 from the people. How can Hamas reap the fruits if it pays such an expensive price?” he asked.

Further confirming that the protests were not peaceful, Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar appeared on Qatar’s Al Jazeera network, and himself disagreed with a host that claimed his group is peaceful.  “This is a clear terminological deception,” he began. “This is not peaceful resistance. Has the option (of armed struggle) diminished? No. On the contrary, it is growing and developing. That’s clear,” he said. “So when we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public. This is a peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies, and enjoying tremendous popular support.”

It’s bizarre that nobody in the media seems to take their word for it.

     2. The Protests are over the U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem

Champions of the Palestinian cause were quick to claim Trump had “blood on his hands” for the fatalities, but such riots are the rule rather than the exception in the West Bank. As Tablet Magazine’s Yair Rosenberg noted:

The protests on Monday were not about President Donald Trump moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and have in fact been occurring weekly on the Gaza border since March. They are part of what the demonstrators have dubbed “The Great March of Return”—return, that is, to what is now Israel. (The Monday demonstration was scheduled months ago to coincide with Nakba Day, an annual occasion of protest; it was later moved up 24 hours to grab some of the media attention devoted to the embassy.)

What Palestinians call a “day of rage,” we call Wednesday.

     3. Palestinian Violence is in Response to Israeli Policies

This is a common claim among those who’d like to portray the Palestinians as freedom fighters, and it completely ignores the fact that Palestinian violence against Israel predates the occupation, which came following the 1967 Six-Day War.  In the 15 years before the Six-Day War, there were at least 58 terrorist attacks against Israel.

New York Mag’s Jesse Singal made a similar argument in defense of the Palestinians, arguing that we can’t blame those in the Gaza Strip for democratically electing a terrorist organization to govern them.

His timeline is off – because the blockade was in direct response to the election of Hamas to power in 2007, to protect against terrorism and rocket attacks. Hamas’ 1988 founding Charter calls for the creation of an Islamic State in Palestine, with “Palestine” encompassing all of Israel. The Charter calls for Jewish genocide, which it justifies with a verse from the Hadiths (collections of sayings from Muhammad): “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).”

It would appear Israel decided to play it safe here and take Hamas’ word for it.