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April 09, 2018

Top Palestinian Official: Hamas is Using Human Shields in Gaza for Media Coverage

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Mahmoud al-Habbash. Image courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch


A high-ranking Palestinian Authority (PA) official, Mahmoud al-Habbash, has said that Hamas is sending civilians to die in violent demonstrations along the Israel-Gaza border in order to influence media coverage. Habbash serves as the Supreme Sharia (Islamic law) judge and an adviser on Islamic affairs to Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the PA.

Mahmoud al-Habbash’s remarks were made in an April 6, 2018 sermon at PA headquarters in Ramallah and were subsequently translated by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a non-profit organization that monitors Arab media in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem.

Hamas has helped orchestrate the so-called “Return March,? in which thousands of Gazans violently demonstrated—some with molotov cocktails, burning tires and firearms—along the border with Israel. As CAMERA detailed in an April 4, 2018 Daily Caller Op-Ed, those committing violence are purposefully interspersed alongside civilians—in order to create casualties. Hamas hopes that by using human shields and causing the deaths of their own people, international public opinion—often influenced by uncritical media reports—will single out Israel for opprobrium.

Yet, many major U.S. news outlets have played into Hamas’ objectives by failing to note the Gazan-based terror group’s strategy. In his televised sermon, al-Habbash said:

“The Palestinian people... doesn’t care about those [Hamas] with ‘the emotional stories of heroism,’ those with the slogans of heroism - slogans that when you hear them, you think that the people saying them are inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque after they liberated it. And afterwards you discover that they’re only selling illusions, trading in suffering and blood, trading in victims, [saying]: ‘You Palestinians, our people, go and die so that we’ll go to the TV and media with strong declarations.’ These [Hamas] acts of ‘heroism’ don’t fool anyone anymore.?

The Fatah movement, a long-time rival of Hamas, dominates the PA. Al-Habbash’s comments illustrate the deep cynicism of both groups. Although his top religious affairs adviser admitted that Hamas is trying to create civilian casualties for propaganda purposes, on March 30, 2018, PA President Abbas claimed that Israel was “fully responsible? for the deaths of human shields used by Hamas ("Abbas says Israel fully to blame as Gaza death toll rises," The Times of Israel, March 30, 2018). Nonetheless, Abbas was in the audience when Al-Habbash delivered his sermon and didn’t express a word of disagreement with his adviser.

PMW’s report on Al-Habbash’s comments can be found here.

Posted by SD at April 9, 2018 11:30 AM

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