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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Michael Oren on Hamas' media strategy

Michael Oren explains how causing civilian casualties gains media attention and international sympathy for Hamas.
And the reason is simple: More than a military strategy, Hamas has a media strategy. Calculatingly, Hamas employs primitive military tactics to mount a sophisticated media campaign that can threaten Israel's basic security. And in conducting that offensive, Hamas can count on one of the world's most powerful weapons: the international media.
Hamas fires hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities and towns and tries to attack Israeli farms via the sea and through tunnels. Thanks to Israeli technology and vigilance, few of these actions have inflicted extensive damage. Still, they disrupt Israeli life, impair the economy, and leave cumulative psychological scars.
As a sovereign nation, Israel must respond robustly to such attacks. And as a state committed to Jewish and democratic values, Israel provides water, humanitarian aid, and electricity to the residents of Gaza even as their government murders Israelis.
Throughout, Israel strives tirelessly to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Yet in spite of the hundreds of thousands of leaflets Israel dropped, the countless text messages and personal phone calls it made warning Palestinian civilians to leave targeted areas, tragedies still occur. Israel deeply regrets these losses and continuously hones its operations to make them more surgical still.
In a war with Hamas, though, Israel's strength and morality can become vulnerability and guilt. By investing nothing in air raid sirens and bomb shelters, by hiding deep beneath neighborhoods and shooting near hospitals and mosques, Hamas ensures that Israel will invariably wound and kill civilians.
Hamas gunmen carry out attacks disguised as women and old men, fight from UN and Red Cross vehicles, store rockets in schools, and physically prevent Palestinian civilians from fleeing combat zones. This context, though, is rarely mentioned by the media when covering the civilian cost of the fighting.
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Unwittingly or not, the international media is complicit in Hamas's plan. While some may think they help the Palestinians by highlighting their plight, in reality, the journalists only worsen it. They effectively absolve Hamas of culpability for using Gaza's population as a human shield, of stealing its aid money to buy munitions and dig fortified tunnels with the sole purpose of killing Israelis, and of contributing nothing to Gaza's welfare.
Read the whole thing.

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