Debunking Al Jazeera’s biased coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict: Woode-Smith

Nicholas Woode-Smith argues that Al Jazeera has been a firm supporter of the Palestinian cause, and has made a business out of heaping Israel with as much one-sided condemnation as possible. Al Jazeera has been unequivocally anti-Israel and anti-USA, with its Arabic programming leaning even into radical Islamic programming. Ignoring History and Decontextualising Conflict While the documentary doesn`t baulk from showing a range of footage depicting the honest savagery of Hamas, it almost seems to glorify this violence, providing a one-sided historical context.

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By Nicholas Woode-Smith 

Debunking Al Jazeera on October 7th

Al Jazeera has been a firm supporter of the Palestinian cause, and has made a business out of heaping Israel with as much one-sided condemnation as possible. On the 20th of March, they released an hour long documentary on their YouTube channel.

The main thrust of the video is that while Hamas did commit atrocities on October 7th, many of the sensationalist claims made by politicians and the media have proven to be untrue. Perhaps, a reasonable cause. But Al Jazeera is far from an unbiased source.

Al Jazeera was founded by Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former emir of Qatar, and an authoritarian ruler. The network is still funded by the Qatari government, while acting like a private enterprise. But no enterprise can truly be private while receiving that much state funding.

Al Jazeera has been unequivocally anti-Israel and anti-USA, with its Arabic programming leaning even into radical Islamic programming. Its English programming has the veneer of mild tones and intellectual discourse, but pushes misinformation and twisted facts to push an agenda.

This documentary is little better than Al Jazeera’s usual fare.

Ignoring History and Decontextualising Conflict

While the documentary doesn’t balk from showing a range of footage depicting the honest savagery of Hamas, it almost seems to glorify this violence, providing one-sided historical context. Nothing is said of Hamas’ repeated rocket attacks over the decades, or the constant terrorism that Israel had to face prior to October 7th.

Rather, Al Jazeera uses the first few minutes of the documentary to describe how so-called peaceful protests against Israel in 2017 and 2019 were met with violence by Israeli security forces. What Al Jazeera neglects to mention is how the 2017 protests were also against Hamas over tax hikes and increasing repression. The border protests saw police officers firing on violent instigators at the border, while peaceful protesters were dispersed with non-lethal riot control methods.

During the 2019 border protests, the protests were used to cover up Hamas attacks against Israel. Tens of thousands of mostly young men of fighting age converged on the border of a sovereign country and tried to cross violently. It is the responsibility of border security to stop them.

Al Jazeera claims that these protests were entirely peaceful, while ironically showing footage of a young boy using a slingshot to throw either a rock or explosive towards the border fence.

It should also be mentioned that while the protests are depicted as Palestinians merely wanting to return to their historical homes, this would not be peaceful. The majority of Palestinians do not seem willing to share the region with Jews. A one-state solution would necessitate a genocide of Jewish people. And a two-state solution will never work because Palestinian resistance groups insist on total domination.

Further, nothing is mentioned of the claimed reason that October 7th took place. Hamas named the operation “Al-Aqsa Flood” because they are fundamentally a radical religious terrorist group. Al Jazeera wants to depict them as a secular, rational liberation army because that appeals more to a Western audience, but the truth of the matter is that Hamas used the conflict over the Al-Aqsa Mosque, built on top of the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism) to instigate the invasion of Israel.

You cannot divorce religion and culture from this conflict, not matter how hard you want to. The fact that the Temple Mount was historically Jewish, and only became a holy site in Islam because of its connection to Judaism should mean something. It should also matter that while the Temple Mount is the holiest of sites in Judaism, it is only the third most holy site in Islam. It matters more to Jewish people, who do not have any holy sites outside of a small tract of land in the Levant. There are 22 Arab countries, containing myriad holy sites to their religion, and 50 total Muslim countries in the world. There is one Jewish country in the world, which shares its borders with the most diverse population in the Middle East.

And while Israel holds political control over Jerusalem, they still allow the oppression of Jews to continue in parts of their holy city, because they would rather not cause a larger crisis.

But Hamas used a scuffle at Al-Aqsa, where Jews visited their own holy site peacefully, to justify the invasion of a country and the slaughter of civilians.

Glorifying Hamas & Ridiculing Israel’s Preparedness

The Al Jazeera documentary seems to try hard to seem balanced, describing the blow-by-blow account of the events of October 7th. But throughout it all, they seem to glorify Hamas for its military genius, while ridiculing Israel for its lack of preparedness.

The Israeli military, government and intelligence service should be punished for their apathy and incompetence in letting October 7th happen, but Al Jazeera can’t help but imply that it is this lack of preparedness that justifies October 7th. Almost that Israel’s incompetence justifies Hamas’ brutality.

Simultaneously, the documentary describes how Israel failed to predict the invasion, while stating that they knew it was going to happen, while also insisting that Hamas was so competent that nobody but a select few knew that it was going to happen. The documentary can’t seem to make up its mind.

Al Jazeera also purposefully brushes over some important historical facts about Hamas. Very likely because it wants to depict Hamas as a brave, liberation group.

It claims, very innocently, that Hamas was elected as the Gazan government in 2006, without mentioning Hamas’ brutal killing of its political opposition and its violent seizing of all power shortly after those elections. Hamas is not just a terrorist organisation. It’s a brutal dictatorship that oppresses Gazans far more than Israel, as a foreign power, ever could.

Al Jazeera proceeds to show footage of the events of October 7th, depicting Hamas fighters stomping on living and dead soldiers, chanting religious slogans while firing bullets into bodies, and describing how Hamas fighters heroically butchered IDF troops in their sleep. All the while this happens, Hamas leaders are shown praying.

Footage is then shown of Hamas fighters attacking civilian areas, killing innocent people in their cars, and firing into windows of houses, cutting off women screaming. There is CCTV footage of Hamas fighters, fresh from killing, attacking a gas station convenience store, and proceeding to steal candy and pastries. I can’t imagine a normal person having the appetite to eat treats after committing such a slaughter.

The documentary proceeds to depict the Nova Music Festival, as Hamas fighters film themselves firing Ak-47s methodically into bathroom stalls containing hiding civilians, shooting at fleeing young women, and tossing grenades into shelters, before gunning down desperate people as they try to escape.

Captives are filmed being pulled by their hair and beaten to a pulp. They were not putting up a fight. They were unarmed.

Taking civilian hostages is a war crime which has not been mentioned by Al Jazeera or many media or governments. Hamas clearly engaged in intentionally slaughtering civilians, another war crime. Israel’s alleged killing of Gazan civilians has all been as a result of air strikes or bombardment, where the fog of war obscures the true identities of the combatants. Hamas knowingly killed civilians. That should mean something.

The disturbing fact of this blunt honesty by Al Jazeera is that I’m sure that many members of their audience applauded Hamas’ behaviour. The comments on the video are overwhelmingly supportive of Hamas. I watch the footage and it further convinces me that Hamas is a terror group. Yet so many people watch the same footage, and believe the opposite. Which raises the disturbing question of antisemitism in so many anti-Israel individuals.

The Hannibal Directive

The main thrust of the documentary is that not all the people killed on October 7th were killed by Hamas fighters, and that many were killed as a part of an Israeli order called the Hannibal Directive – described by Al Jazeera as a policy whereby it is better for soldiers to be killed than taken prisoner, so to prevent humiliating prisoner exchanges.

Al Jazeera claims that the Israeli air force was given the order to apply the directive to civilians. But there is no clear evidence of this. For the air forces to be ordered to kill civilians, they would need to know their target are civilians. Yet, Al Jazeera’s evidence is that pilots fired upon forces that they could not discern the identity of.

They simultaneously claim that Israel ordered the killing of civilians, while also not being able to identify civilians through the fog of war. They are unable to choose if they want to condemn Israel’s incompetence or its malice.

They discuss a survivor who claims that a helicopter fired on her as she was being taken captive by Hamas. She survived, unscathed, but all her captors were killed. That sounds like a job well done, but Al Jazeera uses it as a way to condemn Israel’s callousness towards their own people.

Al Jazeera, like many anti-Israel pundits, are incredibly naĂŻve about military matters. They honestly seem to think that if Israel wanted to, they could superhumanly address a surprise invasion with no collateral damage. The IDF does all it can to prevent civilian casualties, while still trying to undertake a necessary operation. They gave time for Northern Gaza to evacuate, even while allowing Hamas to dig in. They dropped flyers, warned civilians, and provided safe passage to unarmed civilians.

All the while, Hamas has used a brutal strategy of human shields, hiding in civilian buildings like hospitals, schools, kindergartens, and mosques. These civilian buildings have been turned into fortified military bases, hosting rocket batteries, and the entrances to a 750 km network of tunnels – all constructed with foreign aid money meant to be used to uplift Gaza.

Hamas makes it impossible for the IDF to completely avoid civilian deaths, as the terror group is completely fine with sacrificing as many civilian lives as possible for their cause.

Al Jazeera complains about the use of air power, but do not seem to realise that air forces can mobilise far faster than ground troops and were integral to reestablishing control over the border and turning the tide of the invasion.

The documentary fixates on another event, where 12 hostages were allegedly killed by IDF ground troops in Be’eri. This is considered, by Al Jazeera, as an example of the Hannibal Directive. But Occam’s Razor would suggest that the IDF troops could not know about the exact locations of the hostages, as they were engaged in an active firefight with Hamas fighters entrenched in a civilian home. There is a report that a tank fired into the home.

It is tragic that hostages were killed in the crossfire. But the IDF didn’t go into Be’eri without cause to fire on civilians. Hamas did. No civilians would have died, on either side, if Hamas hadn’t invaded Be’eri and taken hostages.

It is unreasonable to expect Israeli troops to omnipotently know the location of hostages so to prevent their deaths. And it is unreasonable to expect anyone to act with a completely clear head in the middle of a chaotic battle. Every civilian death is a tragedy, but the documentary seems to put the onus on accidental deaths on Israel, rather than the terrorists holding civilians hostage.

Sensationally Condemning Sensationalism

The documentary dedicates a lot of its time to addressing sensationalist news headlines that filled the airwaves just after October 7th. Many of these false headlines have been addressed by the Israeli government, and as new evidence has come up, corrections have been publicly made. Yet, Al Jazeera is fixated on correcting these events, as if they change the entire nature of the conflict.

Al Jazeera has made no such effort to correct its disproven statements. Notably, it and many other news sources reported that that over 400 people were killed by an Israeli rocket outside al-Ahli Arab Hospital. Further investigation found that casualties were probably less than 300, and maybe even less than 100. On top of that, it is unlikely that the rocket was Israeli, and was probably a misfire from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Jihadist ally of Hamas. Al Jazeera has continued to double down on its conspiracy theories, pushing unsubstantiated claims of “media analysis” that push their agenda.

Al Jazeera’s interviewed media analyst for the documentary is incredibly biased, hailing from a Qatari university, and making incredibly irresponsible and absurd claims. One of these claims is that one of the rape victims, who was filmed being raped and killed by Hamas, could not be the victim identified, because the family claims they had been in contact with her four minutes prior. According to the analyst, it is impossible to be raped and killed in four minutes. A claim that should make any decent human being balk.

Lying about Sexual Violence

Al Jazeera’s coverage of the sexual violence that occurred is incredibly wishy-washy and self-contradictory.

In the span of a few seconds, the narrator claims that there is no evidence that any rapes occurred, and then states that there is a single video indicative of a sexual assault.

Al Jazeera reports that the alleged sister of the victim claimed in an Instagram comment that her sister could not have been raped, as the family had been in contact with her four minutes prior to her being reportedly killed. They do not believe that she could have been raped and murdered in this time frame.

This comment is likely either fabricated, or the result of a grieving family in denial. Four minutes is enough time to commit a brutal sexual assault and murder. The fact that Al Jazeera thinks this is enough evidence to consider the rape deceitful is shameful.

Additionally, even if a sexual assault did not occur in this instance, the fact that a young woman was still murdered and mutilated is still an atrocity. This does not seem to concern Al Jazeera.

There is also a brief clip earlier in the documentary showing a female victim screaming, as a Hamas fighter sexually assaults her from behind. This is not commented on by the narrator.

Madeleine Rees of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom claims that the UN wanted to investigate sexual violence but were blocked by Israel. The reason for this is that Israel, understandably, doesn’t trust the UN. A body that has repeatedly treated it unfairly, and contains a body (the UNRWA) that contains many Hamas sympathisers and even fighters.

A Hamas leader claims in the documentary, without any rebuttal by Al Jazeera, that no rapes occurred. He disparagingly states that: “Not one kiss” happened. His evidence is their beliefs. And that it is impossible for any Hamas fighter or Gazan to have committed rape because their religious disallows them from doing so.

Perhaps, we should take their beliefs at face value then. Most notably, their genocidal tracts in the Hamas founding charter, that call for the mass killing of Jews everywhere in the world.

Al Jazeera continues to claim there is no forensic evidence of sexual assault occurring, yet the Israeli government has provided evidence, and the UN has reported that sexual violence did occur, after a later investigation. There is also mountains of witness testimony, despite Al Jazeera claiming otherwise. This is on top of many videos depicting victims of sexual assault, including a video of the brutalised and undressed 23-year-old Shani Luk being paraded through the streets of Gaza, before later being found dead.

Al Jazeera blatantly lies about the sexual violence that occurred on October 7th, moving between claims that no rape occurred, to that some rapes occurred. Further arguments that it was not systematic are petty and irrelevant. Hamas fighters raped men and women and got away with it. That’s what matters.

Beheaded Babies

Reports of 40 babies being beheaded at Kibbutz Kfar circulated widely and rapidly but were corrected. But months later, Al Jazeera is still obsessed with this sensationalist headline.

Al Jazeera uses this to attempt to downplay that children and innocents were killed on October 7th. Babies were killed. Children were killed, even if Al Jazeera doesn’t consider unarmed combatants under the age of 18 as children in its analysis. Yet,

Al Jazeera takes advantage of the fog of war, confusion by first responders, and the confusion of the event to try paint all Israeli claims as sensationalist. It takes first responder testimony as gospel, and when further forensic evidence proves that they were a bit wrong, Al Jazeera declares it all bogus.

An example is the ZAKA testimony of a group of civilians being killed and burnt. Al Jazeera tries to discredit this testimony by saying it is inconsistent with other testimony. Yet, both testimonies are almost identical.

Al Jazeera devotes a lot of time to playing a numbers game, claiming that very few children actually died. They claim that only 2 babies were killed on October 7th. Already, this is false, as at least three children under the age of 3 were killed. Further, 38 children were killed. Not in a crossfire. Not in the fog of war. But by being executed by Hamas fighters who could see they were children

Who started it?

The Al Jazeera documentary is a work of propaganda, hiding behind the veneer of journalism. The grand irony of the documentary is that it still showed plenty of footage by Hamas that should make any reasonable person fundamentally oppose the terror group.

It is also worth mentioning that the video is already being spread as a citation by pro-Palestinian conspiracy theorists, making claims that are not even discussed in the video. One such conspiracy theorist stated that the documentary showed how the Israeli Air Force used missiles to kill partiers at the Nova Music Festival, yet this is not mentioned in the documentary.

Facts and sound logic are not a friend of the anti-Israel crowd. They prefer misinformation, sensationalism and misdirection.

At the end of the day, this conflict was caused by Hamas. Not Israel. Every death originated with Hamas’ decision to invade Israel and slaughter civilians. And the end of this war is in Hamas’ hands. If Hamas surrenders, the war will end. Gaza will be spared. If Hamas and other anti-Israel groups actually tried diplomacy, they could reach a settlement.

Israel has agreed to a two-state solution five times in the past. Yet, Palestinian groups always want it all. Does that sound reasonable to you?

A ceasefire will only give Hamas time to regroup and continue the war. It will not mean peace. Only the elimination of Hamas will grant peace to Gaza. And only the abandonment of the ahistorical and malicious insistence of Palestinian hegemony over what is Israel will guarantee a lasting peace.

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