Hamas to Gazans: Don’t show Israel where we’re firing from

Ministry of Interior video guides locals on suitably anti-Israel wartime terminology, urges them to ‘display photos of the injured’

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Hamas militants display the M-75 rocket in a military parade commemorating Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, November 14, 2013 (photo credit: Emad Nassar/Flash90)
Hamas militants display the M-75 rocket in a military parade commemorating Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, November 14, 2013 (photo credit: Emad Nassar/Flash90)

Hamas’s Ministry of Interior in Gaza — still active despite a unity government with Fatah which officially disbanded it — has requested that citizens not share photos of rockets launched from residential areas in downtown Gaza lest Israel strike those areas.

The ministry’s social media department published a video in Arabic Thursday containing guidelines for “cautious and effective” social media engagement on Facebook and Twitter during Operation Protective Edge. The ministry calls on residents to be wary of repeating Israeli “rumors,” and of adopting “the occupation’s narrative.” “Always doubt it and dispel it,” the video advises.

“Beware of posting photos of missiles launched from the center of town directed at Israel. This is used as a pretext to strike residential areas in the Gaza Strip,” it continues.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, also appointed Minister of Interior in the new unity government sworn in June 2, has admitted in an interview with The New York Times last month that his Ramallah-based government wields no control over the Gaza Strip. The website of Hamas’s ministry has remained continuously active throughout the IDF operation, delivering news and guidelines to residents.

When referring to casualties in Gaza, the term “innocent citizen” should always be added to the name, the video says.

“Begin your coverage of the resistance [Hamas] activities by writing ‘in response to the brutal Israeli attack’ and end it with ‘more than X martyrs have been killed since Israel began its aggression against Gaza’.”

“Always focus on the role of ‘the Israeli occupation as aggressor’ and that ‘we in Palestine represent the response’.”

In some cases, the video’s advice straddles the line between operational security and efficient advocacy tips.

Gunmen from the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in Gaza City on November 22, 2012 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Photos of masked men with heavy weapons can cause Facebook pages to be shut, warns video (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

“Do not publish photos or video clips depicting locations of rocket launches or movements of resistance [Hamas members] in Gaza,” the video warns. “To Facebook news page administrators, do not display photos of masked men carrying heavy weapons up close, so that your page isn’t shut for inciting violence.”

Facebook commenters should describe the local manufacturing of rockets as a “natural response to the occupation launching missiles at civilians in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Photos, the video concludes, should include documentation of the time and place they were taken, since Israel claims that Palestinians are using archived photos as news.

“Make sure in every roundup to mention the number of women and children killed or injured. There is nothing wrong with displaying photos of the injured,” Hamas urged in the video.

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