It’s Tuesday night and major media outlets around the world are reporting that the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza City had been bombed, killing at least 500 Palestinians. Hours of live broadcasts left viewers with few doubts about the identity of the culprit. As is usually the case, Israel was immediately blamed.
Although later on that evening journalists did relay a statement from Israel, many appeared to have trouble hiding their distrust of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) preliminary finding that a rocket launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza had fallen short of its target and was responsible for the tragedy.
As the fog of war began to lift, or rather the heavy layer of Hamas disinformation, it became apparent that much of the original reporting was wrong: that the hospital itself was not struck, its parking lot was; that the death toll while dreadful, was likely in the dozens not the hundreds; and above all else, that the cause of the disaster was not IDF ordinance but unmistakably a faulty rocket fired by Islamic Jihad.
Even after the IDF spokesperson presented the results of its in-depth investigation the next morning - alongside hard evidence that proved the finding of a misfired Palestinian rocket - it was not uncommon to see news reports that still cast doubt on Israel's conclusions, or at best conveyed them alongside Hamas’ unfounded allegations as if they were no more than reasonable competing narratives.
In sharp contrast to the contempt shown to Israel, claims made by Gaza's Ministry of Health were treated with the utmost respect and instantly reported as fact. While in democracies like Israel, Health Ministry bureaucrats are independent medical professionals and impartial civil servants, in Gaza they are all Hamas officials first and foremost. Their loyalty is to the fundamentalist terrorist organization controlling the Gaza Strip and the evidence has revealed that they knew exactly what happened.
No one impartially following events in this part of the Middle East would be shocked to see that Israel was falsely accused of wrongdoing. Lies horrific enough to be considered blood libels are immediately and automatically believed. Even if later disproven by Israel, the damage has already been done and new evidence favorable to Israel receives little attention. So the lie that was used to delegitimize Israel, enflame Arab sentiments, and incite violence lives on and on and on.
Blaming Israel for errant Palestinian rockets that cause Palestinian casualties is a frequent occurrence. In recent conflicts, up to 25% of the projectiles targeting Israeli villages, towns, and cities fell short and landed inside Gaza, leading to distressing images of death and destruction. In the 12 days since Hamas began its attack on Israel, approximately 450 rockets that targeted Israeli civilians have hit the residents of the Gaza Strip instead.
When will the press and the international community stop believing terrorists, as if somehow those who live by a moral code that encourages the murder of innocents can be trusted as reliable and fair-minded conveyers of fact?
Compare Israel’s inherent honesty with Hamas' perpetual manipulation of the truth and the result might be surprising to some. It shouldn’t be, not considering Hamas hatred of the values most humans with a shred of decency hold dear, including towards the sanctity of life.
Hamas, a ruthless terrorist organization whose goal is the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a caliphate, is driven by an Islamist ideology so extreme that it is willing to do almost anything to achieve its aspirations.
It is certainly prepared not only to slaughter Jews in the most gruesome ways imaginable but to sacrifice countless Palestinian lives as well.
No better example of this can be found than in Hamas’ consistent and ongoing use of human shields. Palestinian civilians, including children, are deliberately placed in harm’s way so that when the inevitable tragedy happens, international pressure on Israel to stop defending itself grows.
This appalling tactic and Hamas’ long history of duplicity are well documented but as happened this week, many still prefer to be duped by its propaganda. Some continue to refuse to believe indisputable evidence, such as that provided by Israel on Wednesday.
For the 'blame Israel first' crowd, recordings of two Hamas terrorists discussing Islamic Jihad’s misfired rocket as the incident was actually happening isn’t enough. Nor is visual proof of the facts, including videos of the failed launch from a cemetery near the hospital. Not even verification of the evidence by the Pentagon and numerous independent analysts will suffice.
There is a simple message that should be sent to these people: terrorists lie. And if you continue to believe these lies and spread them, you are supporting Hamas’ campaign to deny Israel the same right of self-defense afforded to every other nation under terrorist attack.
Luckily, the Israelis are not the only ones who understand that. President Biden expressed full confidence in IDF findings while visiting Israel this week. So did many countries worldwide. I’m happy that Ukraine is among them.
Michael Brodsky is the Ambassador of Israel to Ukraine
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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