Michael Oren on Hamas' media strategy
Michael Oren explains how causing civilian casualties gains media attention and international sympathy
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
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
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
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.
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.
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Labels: anti-Israel media bias, civilian casualties, Gaza, Hamas, human shields, Michael Oren, Operation Protective Edge