Children in Gaza with supposed soot smiling after an airstrike ("X" - Twitter)

Last week the media got it wrong. Israel did not strike a hospital in Gaza, in fact no one did. The explosion everyone saw was the result of a failed rocket from a militant group in Gaza that landed in the parking lot adjacent to the hospital. Yes, people were killed, and people were injured. The lot was being used as a triage area for the wounded and was also hosting many displaced people. At first, the estimates were that 200-300 people were killed, then it became 500-600. The world was fuming at Israel, despite Israel’s insistence, and Al Jazeera’s live-feed confirmation that it was a failed launch from Gaza which caused the explosion.

The next morning, as daylight illuminated the area, it was obvious the hospital was not hit at all, and while the destruction of the parking lot was extensive, it was also evident that there could not have been 500-600 or even 200-300 people around the impact zone. So, how is it that so many in the media got it so wrong? And despite the exhaustive presenting of proof after proof, took so long to admit that they got it wrong? The answer is quite simple, the mainstream media outlets are using Hamas as their official source, however, they don’t frame it that way.

Open any story about deaths in Gaza or about people being displaced in the enclave that sits along the coast sandwiched between Israel and Egypt. Most outlets will cite their sources as being officials from the “Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza” or the “Palestine Red Crescent in Gaza” without connecting the dots to reveal the fact that these entities are in fact Hamas. Hamas runs Gaza, it controls everything inside of Gaza and it keeps a tight handle on information that can be reported.

In any other conflict where hostages are a factor, a third party, usually the Red Cross, would be allowed to see the hostages. This has not happened in Gaza. In any other conflict where citizens are being displaced, independent media sources would be allowed in to report, again, this has not happened in Gaza. Sure, the AP, Reuters, BBC and all the other news industry standards report on it as if they are actually there, but they are not. They all use local reporters, many of whom have expressed solidarity for Hamas on their social media profiles, while others have written patently false columns for anti-Israel publications like Mondoweiss and +972 Magazine which go out of their ways to criticize Israel.

Mondoweiss for example published an article last year that accused Israel of weaponizing wild boars in Samaria to destroy Palestinian farms and spread havoc throughout their villages. The article insinuated that the boars, considered “Haram” or forbidden due to their impurity, were being purposefully released by Israelis near Palestinian villages as part of a strategic campaign to terrorize the devout Islamic Palestinians. Never mind that the Jewish aversion to swine predates the Muslim one by over 1600 years, the story left out how boars are numerous in Israel and the region and do not discriminate between Jew and Arabs when wreaking havoc. They also failed to mention a pack of wild boars had caused mayhem in a Jewish neighborhood in Haifa just a few months earlier.

Many news outlets rely on wire services to report news from various locations, often simply reprinting the content without making any amendments. Those that do make changes usually do so for length, and it's rare to see any outlet adding context to a wire story. Additionally, many outlets have been reporting on the deaths of journalists inside Gaza without providing the necessary context to understand the full picture. Take Roshdi Sarraj as an example. Sarraj had worked for numerous international media companies, including Le Monde and Radio France, and had even collaborated on a short film with Amnesty International, an international rights organization that focuses on highlighting what they believe are injustices against Palestinians at the hands of Israelis. Sarraj's own social media posts are filled with clues to his bias, as he referred to the Israel Defense Forces as the "IOF," with the "O" standing for occupation – even though Israel has not had any administrative control over Gaza since 2005.

As the world witnessed an intact hospital, Sarraj continued to assert that Israel had bombed it and killed hundreds. He even mentioned his role in exposing what he called "Israeli crimes" in the absence of foreign journalists in Gaza. In truth, Sarraj, like many other local Palestinian 'journalists,' cannot be considered true journalists; they often serve as echo chambers for Hamas’s narratives. They are not impartial or unbiased but are part of the Palestinian propaganda machine that has infiltrated the global media industry. In fact, throughout this conflict and all those in the past, it is impossible to not see on social media, or nightly news video clips of Palestinians wearing blue bullet-proof vests that have the word “PRESS” written on the front and back huddled around hospitals and in what should be sterile trauma rooms within the hospitals, even in morgues, documenting the gory and the grim for the world to see. Standards that apply to all other journalists, both ethical and professional are tossed out the window with these “journalists” who are tasked with telling a narrative, not reporting the facts.

This tactic of the Palestinian information campaign is not just limited to questionable reporters, it even extends to emergency services like the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, a take on the International Red Cross which is usually the go-to agency during conflicts to report on accurate death numbers and the condition of hostages, whether civilian or military. The Red Cross has not seen the estimated 220 Israeli hostages in Gaza, they have not been given access to the women and children Hamas forces brought back to Gaza, parading them around the streets allowing Gaza residents to spit on them, hit them with lumber or even metal pipes. Many of these hostages were raped, even some of the young girls, and yet, the world must take Hamas’s word, and the word of the Red Crescent that they are in good hands and all being well cared for.

Ignoring the videos taken by Hamas operatives that refer to some of the women as ‘concubines’ or the even more vile Arabic word ‘sabaya’ meaning slave, the international media has relied on the Red Crescent in part to confirm deaths and injuries. Meanwhile, many videos taken by Palestinian journalists and released to the global community shows these paramedics working to stage scenes. In one such display, a Red Crescent paramedic is standing next to an Ambulance that looks more like a swap meet inside, and then like Rafiki lifting the Lion King for all to see, the paramedic hoists up the headless body of what might be a baby and begins parading it around. No western emergency services team would ever participate in such a display, let alone seemingly coordinate it. Is CNN there? Is the BBC there for this press conference? No, just local Palestinian journalists and yet, despite this fact, international media outlets use this imagery, they promote the narrative coming from sources they must know in their hearts to be biased and even fabricated.

The most famous of these scenes came within a few days of Israel’s retaliatory missile strikes. The narrative about decapitated Israeli victims, including babies was still making its global media rounds. A man rushes into a hospital carrying a lifeless body, a father follows him into the hospital room – surrounded of course with tens of reporters – and then in the next image, is seen taking that lifeless child, now all wrapped in white burial cloths, and displaying it to the media while crying. It is evident, and to the media’s credit it was pointed out that the lifeless body was in fact a doll – most likely one used for medical training such as CPR – which had been made to look like it had contusions and deep gashes. There are even videos on Telegram from Palestinian sources in Gaza that accidentally show ‘patients’ in the hospital waiting room having make-up applied to them.

The nitpicking of instances in which the world is being misled could go on and cover an entire book. The point is the global media is not in Gaza. The Red Cross is but has no access except when Hamas needs them to transfer hostages to Israel like they have done twice in recent days. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza is the Hamas government, as is the Red Crescent, as are most of the journalists there. It is impossible to know what is true and what is not. Even videos are suspect because many of them are produced, not simply just captured on camera.

So, what does this all mean? It's clear that the world's most reputable media outlets are aware of the issues surrounding the veracity of their sources. Yet they continue to rely on information from entities linked to Hamas, a terrorist organization, without adequate disclaimers. By doing so, they play into Hamas's narrative, inadvertently legitimizing a brutal regime that has committed unspeakable acts against innocent civilians.

When the media use misleading sources and fail to provide context, they are not just erring journalistically; they are participating in shaping a narrative that perpetuates falsehoods and enables terror. It is imperative that we hold these institutions accountable for their actions and demand greater transparency in reporting.

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