CAMERA Op-Ed: Hamas Uses Human Shields and The Washington Post

(Note: A version of the following Op-Ed appeared in The Daily Caller on April 4, 2018)

Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip, has a pattern of using civilians as human shields for propaganda purposes. And several major U.S. news outlets have a pattern of helping them achieve this objective.

This fact is readily apparent when looking at the media coverage of the Hamas-orchestrated “Return March.”

On March 30, 2018, Hamas led an estimated 30,000 Palestinians to Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. In a typically cynical move, armed terrorists were interspersed with unarmed Palestinian civilians. Video shows Palestinian rioters—some of them chanting, “Kill the Jews”—throwing firebombs, stones and burning tires at Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Several also fired weapons, according to images captured by the IDF.

Israeli authorities responded with a mixture of live fire and non-lethal munitions; the former targeting terror leaders and those perpetrating violent acts, and the latter, including tear gas and rubber rounds, aimed at dispersing the thousands who had gathered at the border under the auspices of Hamas and other terror organizations.

Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the genocide of the Jewish people, organized the operation, along with other U.S.-designated terror groups, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Top Hamas operatives Ismail Haniyeh and Yehya Sinwar announced that the violent protests marked the beginning of a “new phase in the Palestinians’ national struggle on the road to liberating all of Palestine, from the river to the sea.”

As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and others have noted, calls to “liberate” the land “from the river to the sea,” or from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, are actually calling for destroying the Jewish nation of Israel, which lies between those boundaries.

Hamas counts on the media to help them achieve this objective. Like several other terrorist organizations, Hamas employs human shields, or unarmed civilians, in the hopes of deterring a response while they carry out attacks. The chief aim, however, is for those civilians to be killed or injured; providing the terror group with a propaganda victory and means to attack Israel in the court of public opinion. Hamas has used this tactic in its wars against the Jewish state—even hiding weapons and terrorists in schools, as a 2015 U.N. report acknowledged.

Images taken by Ma’an News, a semi-official Palestinian news source, show Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad—recently designated by the U.S. as a “Global Terrorist”—using a child as a human shield. In addition to sending several individuals with explosives to breach the border wall, the terror group also sent a seven-year-old girl. The child was picked up by the IDF, which “made sure that she could get back to her parents safely,” the Israeli army said.

Many media reports on the “March of Return” unwittingly aided Hamas by omitting essential information and uncritically repeating the claims of the terror group. For example, The Washington Post—in three articles and one analysis that appeared within 72 hours of the violent demonstration—failed to detail the photographic evidence showing armed Palestinians, often operating under the cover of human shields.

Along with several other major U.S. news outlets, The Post also regurgitated casualty counts provided by Gaza’s “Health Ministry”—failing to inform readers that this “ministry” is, in fact, a Hamas-ruled entity; sharing its goal of delegitimizing the Jewish state.

Even worse, an April 1, 2018 “analysis” by The Post’s World Views commentator Ishaan Tharoor asserted, “Israeli soldiers killed at least 15 Palestinian protesters.” But by the time that Tharoor’s column was printed, Hamas had already proudly acknowledged that five of these “protesters” were members of their organization and the IDF had identified at least another five of the dead as being associated with terror groups. The IDF’s spokesperson had even distributed images showing the men in terror garb.

Several reporters and pundits even claimed that the protesters were peaceful—overlooking all the videotaped evidence to the contrary. But it’s hard to square claims that the protest was peaceful with Hamas leader’s Yehya Sinwar’s calls before the march—underreported, of course—to “eat the livers” of Israelis.

Perhaps most egregiously, The Post’s World Views column claimed that Israel can “snuff out” Palestinian lives “with relative impunity.” Yet, even when it kills terrorists or defends its sovereign borders, Israel is often unfairly singled out for opprobrium; in 2017, the Jewish state was the subject of more condemnatory U.N. resolutions than China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Syria combined.

In fact, according to the journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, 3,685 Palestinians have been killed in the Syrian civil war—23 of them in March 2018, alone. Neither The Washington Post nor the international community had hardly a word to say about any of these deaths. Both their silence and their selective outrage are revealing.

Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas know that they can endanger the lives of both Palestinian civilians and Israelis with little consequence from either the media or policymakers. They hope—not without reason—that many journalists will ignore evidence and obfuscate facts in their quest to treat Palestinians as props for their anti-Israel ledes. Indeed, they’re counting on it.