electronic intifada

Israel posts fake videos to justify Gaza slaughter
Tamara Nassar, Electronic Intifada, May 12 2021

Palestinians inspect a building damaged by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City,
May 12 2021. Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA

The Israeli government posted a two-and-a-half-year-old video from Syria, claiming it was from Gaza, in order to justify its ongoing bombing campaign that has killed dozens of Palestinians since Monday. Netanyahu’s Arabic spox Ofir Gendelman tweeted a 28-second video on Tuesday. The video shows the rapid firing of rockets from next to what looks like an apartment building. Gendelman wrote:

Another video showing how Hamas is firing rockets at Israel from populated areas in the Gaza Strip.

He then accused Hamas, the Palestinian resistance faction that governs Gaza’s internal affairs, of “targeting civilians while using them as human shields.” The words “Gaza now” are watermarked on the video in English and Arabic.

But there is one problem: The video is old and does not appear to originate from the Gaza Strip. The exact same video, just two seconds longer, had been posted on YouTube on Dec 22 2019 by a user who indicated that it was filmed in Maarrat al-Numan, a city in northeastern Syria. The original video contains no watermark or text suggesting any connection with Gaza. This is a familiar propaganda tactic. During Israel’s massive bombing campaign in Gaza in Jul 2014, Israel supporters widely shared a video claiming to show “Hamas using children as human shields.” The video showed a man firing a mortar. Behind him was a group of small children huddled with an older man. But this too was a video from the civil war in Syria, with no connection to Gaza. In another tweet on Tuesday, Gendelman posted a video showing men lying on the ground pretending to be incapacitated, and writing:

Hamas, as per usual, is trying to mislead the media and public by staging fabricated plays, making young men who are alive appear to be corpses.

The video, however, appears to have been originally posted on video-sharing platform TikTok on Mar 26. The user who posted the video, Moslem Abo Rabea, indicates on his profile that he lives in the city of Nazareth in northern Israel. Hamas is not mentioned in the video. There is a watermark on the video posted by Gendelman indicating that it was taken from Abo Rabea’s TikTok profile. The same men appear together in other videos posted by Abo Rabea on the same day. It is unclear what the original context of the video posted by Gendelman is, but what is certain is that it predates the current escalation in Gaza and appears to have no connection to the territory. Lying for propaganda value appears to be a longstanding tradition for Netanyahu’s spokesperson. In 2019, Gendelman tweeted an image of female protesters in Gaza holding Palestinian flags, calling them “ISIS women,” without providing any proof that they did in fact support the so-called Islamic State. In Apr 2018, Gendelman misleadingly used an image of large tire fire at a landfill in Texas along with a tweet accusing Hamas of planning to torch the Israel-Gaza boundary fence with fire using tires. The picture appears to have been taken from a video of a tire fire in Odessa, Texas, posted on Youtube in Apr 2017. The same month, Gendelman tweeted a video clip containing fake subtitles, which claimed a young woman was saying something different than she actually did. In 2012, Gendelman posted a graphic that looked like a hospital sign, published by the Israeli army, purporting to show that Hamas leaders hide under hospitals and stockpile weapons there. The sign was fake.

Why Israel won’t win in Gaza
Maureen Clare Murphy, Electronic Intifada, May 12 2021

Palestinians in the West Bank city of Jenin protest against Israeli assaults on worshippers
and planned evictions in Jerusalem. Photo: Oday Daibes/APA

Palestinian armed groups made good on their threats to strike Tel Aviv with unprecedented fire after Israel leveled a residential tower in Gaza on Tuesday. Resistance factions had warned Israel that they would hit its commercial capital if such strikes occurred. After Israel bombed a multi-story apartment building in Gaza City, more than 100 rockets were launched towards Tel Aviv. The heavy barrage killed a woman in a Tel Aviv suburb, caused additional serious injuries and disrupted air traffic at Israel’s international airport. Two women, including a caregiver from India, were killed in Ashkelon in southern Israel earlier in the day. Despite successive military offensives following its unilateral withdrawal of settlers from the territory in 2005, Israel has failed to defeat the armed resistance in Gaza. Instead, armed groups in the isolated Strip have only strengthened their capacity and ability to disrupt life in Israel, with little to no other means to shift the severe imbalance of power between the stateless Palestinians on the one hand, and one of the world’s strongest militaries, on the other.

The tightened siege of collective punishment that Israel has imposed on Gaza since 2007 has made life miserable for the more than two million Palestinians living there. That siege came after Hamas’ unexpected victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections and a failed US-backed attempt to rout the group militarily in Gaza. At the heart of the Israeli and international attempts to undermine Hamas is its rejection of the normalization program subscribed to by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, whose “security” forces collaborate with Israel to thwart Palestinian resistance to the occupation. In other words, the PA serves as an enforcement arm of the Israeli occupation while the armed wings of Hamas and other factions in Gaza assert the Palestinian people’s right to self-defense against Israeli aggression. The so-called Middle East Quartet (EU, Russian Federation, UN and US) has sought the disarmament of these groups in Gaza, where most of the population are refugees from villages in what is now called Israel.

For more than 70 years, Israel has prevented Palestinian refugees in Gaza, and millions of others elsewhere in the diaspora, from exercising their right to return on the basis that they are not Jews. Dozens of Palestinians were killed and thousands maimed by Israeli army sharpshooters while asserting that right during Great March of Return protests held along Gaza’s eastern and northern boundary beginning in 2018. Palestinian families in Gaza have paid the heaviest price for insisting on their right to self-determination. More than 30 Palestinians, including 10 children, have been killed in Gaza since Israel began bombing it on Monday.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, a Palestinian man was killed and another seriously injured by Israeli soldiers on Tuesday. Israel initially claimed the pair, both reportedly members of Palestinian Authority intelligence services, had attempted a shooting attack. Israeli media later reported that the Palestinians were not carrying a gun and were not attempting an attack when they were shot. Despite the unbridgeable political disunity between the resistance camp in Gaza and the normalization camp in Ramallah, Palestinians throughout their homeland, the entirety of which is under Israeli control, are rising up. Decades of occupation, fragmentation, severe movement restrictions and a myriad of other Israeli policies of oppression have failed to pulverize resistance to its settler-colony regime and a sense of national unity among Palestinians even amid a vacuum of political unity. Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political wing, saluted Palestinian citizens in Israel as the “protection wall” of Jerusalem and its al-Aqsa mosque, which was besieged by Israeli police while full of Ramadan worshippers on Monday. Dozens of Palestinian families are facing forcible eviction in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Jewish settlers. The families that Israel seeks to evict in Sheikh Jarrah are refugees denied their right to return to the homes from which they were expelled around the time of Israel’s founding in 1948. Palestinian citizens of Israel in Haifa, from which some families in Sheikh Jarrah were originally expelled, have protested in recent days, as have their brethren in Nazareth and Jaffa.

Israel’s paramilitary Border Police were deployed to Lydd, a Palestinian city inside Israel also known as Lod, on Tuesday following more than a day of riots. Netanyahu meanwhile convened an emergency meeting over massive rioting in the city. Lydd’s mayor, Yair Revivo, asked Netanyahu to call in the Israeli military to the city and “impose a curfew,” describing the situation as “an intifada of Arab Israelis,” using the term Israelis typically use for Palestinian citizens of the state. Revivo claimed that “civil war has erupted” in the city and that synagogues and cars were being burned while Orthodox nationalist Jews were roaming the streets with guns. A Palestinian man was shot and killed by a Jewish Israeli vigilante in Lydd on Monday in a suspected hate crime. Palestinians in Lydd had rallied in defense of al-Aqsa mosque on Monday and in solidarity with families in Sheikh Jarrah.

Palestinian families in Lydd have also been subjected to forced displacement via home demolitions as Israeli land zoning privileges housing for Jewish citizens over Palestinians. A growing consensus recognizes what Palestinians have been saying for years: that Israel has “pursued an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians throughout the territory it controls,” as Human Rights Watch recently concluded. Lydd’s mayor warned on Tuesday that “we have completely lost control,” indicating that the state is finding that Palestinian citizens of Israel, who are subjected to dozens of discriminatory laws and economic and social marginalization, to be no longer governable.

The mayor’s call on Netanyahu to deploy the military to Lydd is akin to calling in arsonists to put out a fire. But that is the only logic that the State of Israel knows. Militarism is at the core of the Zionist project in Palestine which began long before Israel’s founding in 1948. Military force was viewed as necessary to usurp Palestinian land and to quash indigenous resistance against that theft a century ago and remains so today.

Palestinians continue to resist the ongoing process of Zionist settler-colonization and don’t appear to be giving up anytime soon. The will of a colonized people for liberation and self-determination cannot be crushed by military force, by siege, or any new technology from Israel’s innovative labs of oppression. Just how many more lives will be lost before Israel accepts this truth is up to the rest of the world to decide.

Tel Aviv hit after Israel destroys Gaza buildings
Tamara Nassar, Electronic Intifada, May 11 2021

Smoke rises after an Israeli missile strike rocks Gaza City, May 11. Photo: Ali Hamad/APA

Israel deliberately destroyed a residential tower in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday despite warnings from Palestinian resistance groups not to target civilian infrastructure. Videos circulated on social media show the al-Hanadi apartment building collapsing after it was struck by an Israeli missile.

The destruction recalled scenes from Israel’s 2014 assault in Gaza when it systematically destroyed apartment buildings – a war crime. In response, the military wing of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas fired some 130 rockets at Tel Aviv and surrounding areas Tuesday evening.

As a result, Israel was forced to briefly shut down its main airport for almost two hours, diverting flights to Cyprus.

Palestinian resistance rockets also apparently set fire to a major oil pipeline running from the southern city of Ashkelon to the Israeli port of Eilat:

Israel fully anticipated the reaction it would receive after striking the residential building in Gaza. An Israeli military spokesperson told Haaretz:

We expect that this powerful attack on the high-rise building, which shook all of Gaza, will lead to extensive shooting toward Israel.

Israeli warplanes and artillery have struck 140 sites in the besieged Gaza Strip, including civilian homes, dense residential neighborhoods, factories, farm land and other infrastructure, according to Al Mezan, a human rights group in Gaza. An Israeli military strike also hit an area surrounding the Indonesian hospital in northern Gaza, inflicting damage on the hospital. The health ministry stated:

This is a deliberate crime in which the occupation is targeting innocent people and now aiming to deprive them of medical treatment.

The ministry said the northern Hala al-Shawa medical center is “completely out of commission” as a result of a nearby military strike, preventing thousands of Palestinians, including mothers and their children, from receiving treatment. Gaza’s health ministry reported 32 Palestinians killed in Gaza since Monday, including 10 children, and more than 200 injuries. The death toll could climb as more serious injuries are being reported. In Israel, three people have been killed as Palestinian resistance factions sent barrages of rockets towards the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon and the Tel Aviv area. An Israeli military strike hit a seven-story building housing 13 apartments in Gaza City’s Beach refugee camp at dawn on Tuesday. Amira Abd’al-Fattah Subh, 63 and her 19-year-old son Abd’al-Rahman Subh who had special needs and cerebral palsy, were killed in the attack.

Hours later, Israeli warplanes struck another large residential tower with 14 stories in Gaza City, killing three Palestinians. Israel’s military and its domestic spying and torture agency Shin Bet admitted this was a targeted attack to kill Samah al-Mamluk, the head of the missile unit for resistance organization Islamic Jihad’s military wing. The same military strike also killed Kamal Qreqe and Muhammad Abu al-Ata, also Islamic Jihad militants. Israel’s killing of al-Mamluk echoes the assassination of Muhammad Abu al-Ata’s brother in Nov 2019, Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Ata. Videos show women and children running outside the same building covered in dust:

Israel’s defense minister Benny Gantz authorized the Israeli army to call up 5k reservists, but it remains unclear whether the military will do so. Israeli leaders vowed to commit more violence against Palestinians in Gaza throughout Tuesday. The Israeli military has its “foot on the gas,” an army spokesperson said, as Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip entered its second day. The spokesman said:

There is one address in Gaza: It is called Hamas. We will attack it with great force.

Such a statement could be a tacit admission that Israel treats Gaza as one massive military target, blurring distinctions that should protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, even as children comprise roughly half of Gaza’s population. Netanyahu said on Tuesday, after two Israelis were reported killed in Ashkelon:

We will intensify the raids and we will strengthen their pace. Hamas will suffer strikes it does not expect.

On Tuesday, Gantz threatened:

For every day that they shoot at Israeli citizens, we will send them back years.

Gantz appeared to be reviving his 2019 campaign boast that in 2014 he bombed Gaza back to the “stone ages.” In 2014, he was Israel’s chief of staff commanding the 51-day assault that killed more than 2.2k Palestinians, including 551 children.

A rocket-propelled grenade killed eight Palestinians east of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza on Monday, including six children, according to an Al Mezan investigation. The human rights group did not specify the source of the rocket. Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP) has not confirmed the cause of the blast either. DCIP said that at the time of the incident, Israeli warplanes were overhead in Gaza as Palestinian resistance organizations were firing rockets into southern Israel. Five of the children killed were from the same family. Ahmad Muhammad al-Masri, 21, and his sister Rahaf Muhammad al-Masri, 10, as well as their cousins, siblings Marwan Yusef al-Masri, 7, and Ibrahim Yusef al-Masri, 11. The youngest victim was 2-year-old Yazan Sultan al-Masri. Muhammad Ali Nuseir, 20, Hussein Munir Hamad, 11 and Ibrahim Abdullah Hasanein, 16, were all killed in the same blast. Also on Monday, an Israeli warplane struck an agricultural field east of Jabaliya, northern Gaza, killing Sabir Ibrahim Suleiman, 38, and his 16-year-old son Muhammad Sabir Suleiman. Both died of their injuries after being hit with shrapnel. Sabir Suleiman was reportedly a commander with Hamas’ military wing. An Israeli warplane struck Muhammad abd’Allah Fayyad, 25, as he was walking through the al-Salah neighborhood in Beit Hanoun on Monday, killing him immediately. An Israeli military strike hit Khan Younis on Monday, injuring three Palestinians. One of them, 37-year-old Salim Muhammad al-Farra died of his injuries the next day, according to Al Mezan.

Israel imposed collective punishment on Gaza by tightening its 14-year siege of the territory even further. It completely shuttered the Kerem Shalom checkpoint, the only crossing where Israel allows goods in and out of Gaza, as well as the Erez checkpoint, the only crossing for people between Gaza and Israel. This “threatens the lives of patients who need to travel to receive medical treatment” unavailable in the Gaza Strip, Al Mezan stated. Israel also completely restricted the fishing zone, which directly targets Gaza’s economy and its two million inhabitants. Al Mezan condemned those measures as “the continuation of the policy of collective punishment.”

WaPo pushes Israel’s retaliation narrative
Michael F Brown, Electronic Intifada, May 11 2021

Mainstream media are failing Palestinians once again. Photo: SIPA

The WaPo went out of its way to mislead readers today. Its opening paragraph on the latest news from Palestine claimed:

A day of upheaval at the holy sites of this contested city quickly widened into a night of warlike violence in communities across the country Tuesday, with hundreds of rockets from the Gaza Strip resulting in the deaths of at least two Israelis and retaliatory airstrikes killing at least 26 Gazans, according to Palestinian officials and Israeli media.

But this reverses the chronology of reality. Most of the Palestinians were killed by Israeli air strikes prior to the Palestinian rocket that killed two Israelis. That rocket fire, meanwhile, was in response to Israeli violence in Jerusalem Monday and in the days before that has seen hundreds of Palestinians wounded, some in critical condition. Mainstream media too frequently insist on a narrative in which Israel “retaliates.” The WaPo’s timeline fraud is perhaps the clearest example to date. Even yesterday, the narrative already was of an Israeli retaliation. Why can it not be said that Palestinian resistance groups were retaliating for Israel’s attacks on Palestinians praying at al-Aqsa mosque? Journalists and their kneejerk biases require examination. CNN’s Hadas Gold did accurately tweet out that Hamas said it was retaliating for Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.

The NYT, for its part, appeared wildly uninformed when it referred to Hamas launching a “surprise volley of rockets toward Jerusalem.” But there was no surprise involved. As my colleagues reported Monday:

The military wing of the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas issued an ultimatum giving Israel an hour, until 6 pm local time, to withdraw its forces from al-Aqsa and the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and free detainees. When that deadline passed, volleys of rockets were fired toward Jerusalem.

The NYT has a responsibility to report the full story. Vital context is also missing. Israel’s standing as practicing apartheid has been widely omitted. Palestinians have stated this fact for decades and since the start of the year both Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch have asserted this reality. No mention has been given to the fact that Palestinians being attacked in Gaza are largely refugees forced from homes and lands in 1948 in what is now Israel. Newsweek’s opinion editor Josh Hammer, whose bigoted history has been reported here, engaged in a new attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, essentially accusing her of dual loyalty.

Hammer went so far as to declare Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory to be a “straightforward, propagandistic lie.”

But Hammer proves nothing in his linked article. He merely links to the work of well-known apologist for Israeli settlements and apartheid Eugene Kontorovich (as well as to Abraham Bell). The vast majority of scholarship on the Israeli occupation, of course, strongly disagrees with Kontorovich, Bell and Hammer on the matter, as does the UN and even a reluctant US State Dept. But for the sake of argument, let’s propose that most scholarship didn’t uphold the reality of the occupation. What then? Would Hammer be willing to extend full voting rights to all Palestinians between the river and the sea or does he prefer ongoing apartheid? I posed a similar question in Jun 2020. Hammer should answer. If he answers that he accepts apartheid for Palestinians then he should be fired. Of course, that assumes Newsweek would have a problem with an editor openly espousing apartheid. His previous bigoted remarks have so far not caused any concern.

There is one exception on reporting about Sheikh Jarrah that has improved. James North in Mondoweiss highlighted paragraph 39 (40 by my count) of a NYT article by Patrick Kingsley:

Israeli law allows Jews to reclaim ownership of land they vacated in 1948, but denies Palestinians the right to reclaim the properties they fled from in the same war.

Reporting for CNN, Hadas Gold made the same point over the weekend as did Andrew Carey in this report she linked to:

If mainstream journalists begin examining Israeli double standards then they may well conclude, as did B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch, that Israel has an apartheid system. This would be a positive and long overdue development.

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