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Hamas’s intentional humanitarian crisis

Many reports contain one-sided details

Press roundup from Germany – November 6, 2023

By Amos Grünstein

What’s being said

The German media continues to be very concerned with the Middle East conflict. With increasing pressure on Israel for a ceasefire, there are many reports related to the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, as well as the offensive against the terrorist group "Hamas." As there are still many pro-Palestine demonstrations around the world, which are often characterized by antisemitism and militant Islamist slogans, the media keeps reporting extensively on this too. In contrast to reports from last week and before, important details, such as the use of civilians in the Gaza Strip as human shields by Hamas, are regularly mentioned in the current reports.

Die Zeit has frequently reported on the situation in the Gaza Strip, including how deep the Israeli army has managed to penetrate, and how humanitarian aid is being delivered to the civilian population. One of the incidents reported was the Israeli shelling of an ambulance. According to Israel, the ambulance was transporting terrorists. Israel reported that the Al Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip was a Hamas command center. Die Zeit reported on this, though in a rather doubtful tone.

As there have been many antisemitic incidents in Germany since the beginning of the war, Die Zeit has reported on measures proposed by various politicians to combat them. The Tagesschau conveys many helpful facts in its reports, including the use of the Palestinian civilians as a human shield. In general, the Tagesschau sheds a different light on the conflict than many other media outlets. The journalism seems more balanced and the focus is not solely on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

What’s not being said

Many reports contain relatively one-sided details. For example, the ARD public broadcaster’s news team was detained and threatened by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. The team was reporting on violence by radical Israeli settlers and was stopped and threatened by soldiers on their way back. This is a clear violation of press freedom. There is no question about this. But the issue of press freedom and integrity is viewed from one perspective. In Israel, there is a lot of "fake news" from the side of the Palestinians. Hamas has been spreading misinformation. Al Jazeera has been doing the same. For example, Hamas published photos of their terror on October 7, with photos of burned babies spread online as part of their attempt to wage a psychologically traumatizing online war. Later, however, these very same photos—provided by Hamas—were photoshopped with the help of artificial intelligence and distributed online as photos of burned dogs. These tactics are not discussed at all.

There is also no mention of how videos and photos are completely and deliberately taken out of context in order to portray Israeli soldiers in a negative light. A good example is a video that has been making the rounds for years and has resurfaced since the war, in which a swearing soldier is shown in the house of Palestinians to "prove" that the Palestinians are being mistreated and oppressed. But the soldier clearly asks, "Who threw the rock at me?" and is told by the woman filming that she doesn’t know. Not only was the soldier deliberately provoked and filmed as soon as he reacted, this all happened years ago. Unfortunately, the huge amount of fake news as well as media taken out of context is barely reported.

Another issue that continues to be under-reported is the humanitarian situation Gazan civilians in which find themselves in relation to Hamas. With the frequency with which the dire situation is reported, it is incredibly important to talk about the main trigger accordingly. It is not made clear enough that the deliberate positioning of Hamas rocket launchers and tunnels in hospitals and civilian infrastructure are directly related to the dire humanitarian situation. A few days ago, a Hamas spokesman was asked in an interview why Hamas had built 500 km of tunnels but no bunkers for civilians. The spokesman's answer was that it was the UN's responsibility to take care of the refugee population. Why such a statement by a representative of the organization controlling Gaza is not a big headline on every German news channel remains a mystery.

What we think

As indicated above, there is an improvement in the German media in terms of more frequent reminders of the facts, such as the rocket launchers that Hamas places in civilian locations. But important information is still missing. The idea that a Hamas representative publicly admits that the terrorist group Hamas does not see the protection of its population as its responsibility is unbelievable and tragic—and disappointingly under-reported. Israel continues to be blamed for the humanitarian conditions of Gaza when there is clear evidence that for years the group in control of Gazan has not cared about these same people. Also many of the reports are still under-contextualized, despite the media's duty to provide all relevant information to readers.

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