The Other Front of Israel’s War: Disinformation Operations By Hamas and Its Supporters
On October 17, after facing allegations by Palestinian officials for a blast at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City that killed hundreds, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) produced satellite footage and recordings that confirmed the blast was in fact the result of an attack by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). After releasing a statement calling for the review of the evidence, President Biden acknowledged that indeed Israel was not behind it, but rather that “the other team” was. Nonetheless, over the previous day, the main news outlets of record ran the narrative that implicated Israel in the explosion.
The event highlights the pervasive and persistent volume of disinformation pushed by Hamas and its supporters about Israel since Hamas launched its initial attack on October 7. This disinformation, as evident in the Al-Ahli hospital incident, focus on shaping a narrative about Israel’s tactics (especially allegations of harming civilians) – all while Hamas actively placed Gazan citizens in harm’s way (including ordering them to disregard Israel’s warnings and actively obstructing their escape), thereby continuing to violate the Laws of Armed Conflict (LOAC). Disinformation has long been a critical element of Hamas’s strategy, as JINSA documented in its assessments of the 2014 and 2021 conflicts with Israel.
In addition to Hamas-aligned and Hamas-supportive outlets pushing these themes, independent sympathetic social media users have augmented these efforts by flooding social media with footage from other conflicts and other contexts (including films and sports celebrations), framing these as evidence of Israel’s actions.
Israel has adapted to Hamas’s exploitation of the information environment by regularly publishing drone footage of Hamas’s actions, holding daily briefings on social media and Q&A sessions with the press, and publishing its instructions to Gazan civilians on social media.
Jacob Olidort – Director of Research