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  • Writer's pictureAviad Aharoni

Hamas victory pictures or Gaza destruction?

Updated: Jul 10

Have you asked yourself what Hamas celebrated in Gaza after the ceasefire?

I assume that, like many perople around the world, you have already been exposed to photos and videos of Hamas' "victory celebration" in the Gaza Strip, while we could see the piles of rubble and destruction in the backdrop.

We could see "Victory Celebration" rallies, processions and demonstrations, many of them became violent, that took place in Arab communities in Israel, as well as in various parts of the Arab world, and in Turkey, Iran, and even throughout Europe, Canada and the USA.

The “victory celebrations” and “victory pictures” we saw flooding the media and social networks, started after ceasefire was declared, on the night between Thursday and Friday (May 20-21) and the following days. They came after 11 days of fighting the last round against terror attack targeting Israeli civilian population, Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.

Those celebrations and “victory pictures” may not be understandable to many of us, but illustrate differences in worldview and the way of thinking, which sometimes summarizeS and generalizes, and say that this is the difference between someone who thinks "the Western way" and someone who, like Hamas and its supporters, that "thinks the Middle-eastern way".

Here will not be discussing the differences in the perception of victory in Israel, nor the question of whether Israel won militarily but lost politically, and not even will be discussed the differences in worldview between the Western world and the Middle East (few of which you can see in the Hezbollah Victory Museum in Lebanon or in the 6th of October Panorama, which is in Egyptian eys - the Egyptian Victory Museum in the Yom Kippur War, located down the road not far from the National Military Museum in Cairo).

I will simply try to bring you a perspective on the worldview in the eyes of the terrorist organization Hamas, and the way these terrorists see things. Like any other jihadi organization, it is quite different than the way most of the people think and see the world.

Note that there are other elements that need to be included in the equation when talking about differences in perspectives, please remember that not everything is related to Israel in this equation, not even the shaping of the narrative and thereby to shape the consciousness of the masses in the Arab street…

For example, instilling the "victory" in the consciousness of the Egyptian street, even if this "victory" is celebrated in the wake of a scorching military defeat. There is also the issue issue related to how the street sees the regime and whether the regime is perceived as strong in the Middle East including the Gaza Strip, or this is simply a survival issue for the regime.

You may ask - what do they have to celebrate?

After all, the pictures from Gaza show extensive destruction of various buildings throughout the Gaza Strip, including symbols of government - government ministries, buildings that were used by Hamas, even those covered as a residential or civilian office building. Gazans see a wide range of Hamas assets destroyed - whether it was a strategic asset in which Hamas invested years of work and billions of dollars, such as the terror tunnels of Lower Gaza (the “Gazan Teror Underground” / the “Hamas Gaza Metro”) or tactical assets such as rocket and other weapons research and production facilities, rocket and weapons depots, communication and cyber facilities, various ballistic munitions launch systems and facilities (launch pits, multi-barreled launchers, rockets, mortars) and so on.

In addition, “senior terrorists” and low rank foot soldiers from all command and combat echelons units were killed. Including representatives from the “naval forces”, the "Hamas air forces" (drones), anti-tank squads, rocket launch squads, R&D units, rockets manufacturing experts, Cyber warfare units, and Hamas “special forces” units.

Hamas is releasing casualties numbers, including terrorists from Judea and Samaria, who were killed during riots and in clashes with security forces, and of course emphasis the numbers of women and children.

Of course, Hamas will not tell us that some of the dead and wounded in Gaza were the ones Hamas killed and wounded with its own hands, when more than 650 rockets out of over 4,360 rockets fired at Israel, fell within the Gaza Strip borders...

Hamas does not include in the fatalities counter, the unknown (to us) dead terrorists, buried in the ruins of the terrorist tunnels of the lower Gaza. For them, the residents of the Gaza Strip were called on Friday, May 21, to pray for the dead trapped buried terrorists, the special ‘pray for the missing’ (صلاة الغائب = Salat al-Ra'id).

It is highly probable that Hamas and other terrorist organizations know very well who and how many are buried under the ruins of Lower Gaza. This means that probably after the bodies are found under the rubble and ruins of the collapsed tunnels, we will see an increase of the official number of deaths announced by Hamas.

Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip are well aware of the severity of the damage to the terrorist infrastructure, after billions of dollars and years of construction were invested in them, just went down the drain (or like some Gazans might say: gone in a puff of smoke...) The outcome of this last outbreak of terror attack by Hamas, resulted as a severe blow

to the future intensification capabilities of terrorist organizations.

Even more damage to terrorist organizations stems from the death of terrorists who were a source of knowledge and capabilities in various fields, both in the production of weapons, in the communications and cyber system, and in the avenue of command.

The heads of the terrorist organizations know the intensity of the damage they suffered in this round, but Hamas is celebrating a victory...

* It should be noted that all those billions of dollars donated to the Gazans by Governments around the world, in order to improve the lives of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, were used by the terrorist organization, at the expense of the civilian population, for terrorism and personal enrichment of Hamas leaders and associates.

* In addition, large amounts of money from many charity donations from the Muslim world, donated to improve the lives of Palestinians, or donated to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, instead of reaching the declared destination, for which simple people donated from all over the Muslim world, found their way into Hamas terrorist organizations and financed it’s military terrorist buildup.

* What is more, the world has recently been exposed to charity foundation money transfer routes, (in Europe, Turkey, the Americas, and Asia) routed by Hamas for the purpose of terror and into the pockets of Hamas leaders and those who are close to tthem. So the money did not reach the purpose for which the funds were raised.

The picture of victory?

Same images with a different vision.

The IDF published a summary about the days of fighting in “Operation Guardian of the Walls”. This summary was in a simplified form of facts and numbers. It presents the results of the battle in a “dry” manner which easily can be percieved by the Westerns as a severe and painful blow to the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. Information about the damage can be found all over the media. Among the destroyed targets were also the 100 km tunnels of Lower Gaza.

What is interesting here is that after the ceasefire there were published various pictures and videos from the Gaza Strip, in which civilians and armed terrorists side by side, mark with their fingers V the sign of victory, on the background of ruins of house and buildings.

With this we would like to start going deeper into the differences of the way of thinking and the perception of the world.

As a starting point, let's first focus on the usage of the word "Metro" used by Hamas to describe the terrorist tunnels. The common understanding about "Metro" is for a civilian infrastructure of public transport for the benefit of the local population. Sadly, the reality of Gaza the "Metro" is a huge tunnel network of lower Gaza used solely for terror purposes, with entrances in schools, mosques, residencial buildings, hospitals and clinics, industrial and agricultural facilities and more. Under those buildings of public importance are found not only tunnels but rocket and weapons depots, rocket launch pits, explosive and munition warehouses, command and communication rooms, rockets manufacturing facilities, etc’. And when terrorist infrastructure uses the Gaza civilian population as human shields and their homes and public buildings for terrorist purposes, there should be no place for sensitivity if the purpose of this use claims to be defensive or offensive.

This is the reason why we consider the media use of the word "Metro" in this context as misleading as it may leave the wrong impression that this is a real Gazan subway unknown to this moment. Here we can avail ourselves be more creative and propose the use of the word "Metror" as a combination of "metro" and "terror".

But let's go back to the victory pictures of the Hamas terrorist organization. What kind of pictures are they?

A pink cot, against the backdrop of a ruined house. Photo: Samar Abu Elouf = سمر أبو العوف

For the picture above just note that the whole environment is dusty, a cloud of dust rises from the industrial building on the right, and from the house on the left, but the child and the bed are dust free. This is leading us to the question if there is a connection between them and the ruins in the background?

What else is a picture of victory?

• For Hamas, the images of the destruction of the Gaza Strip cities are a picture of victory.

• A picture of a woman crying in front of the ruins of her home - is a picture of victory.

• A picture of a pink cot in front of a ruined house - is a victory picture.

• And in the perspective of terrorist organizations, pictures of wounded children are a picture of victory.

• What is more, pictures of killed children are equivalent to a picture of victory.

Let's explore one more picture emphasizing the differences in the common and the Gazan perspectives - Pictures of children sitting on an unexploded Israeli bomb...

Pictures: Children were seated for propaganda photography, on an unexploded bomb

Photo Credit: Arab social networks, photographer: Mustafa Hassona = مصطفى حسونة

For every normal human being, these pictures are inconceivable. Who will ever even think to put children on an unexploded bomb? And for a photo op???

In every normal place in the world, the entire area would be evacuated within a safe radius, and bomb disposal experts will handle the unexploded ordnance carefully and move it away from a populated area (or alternatively blow it up in a controlled explosion) to prevent loss of human lives, and major environmental damage to the civilian neighborhood.

But in the Gaza Strip? For the terrorist organizations, this is a great opportunity to show the world a picture of miserable Gazan children next to a formidable Israeli bomb…

For most of the world it would be beyond any logic to put children on an unexploded bomb just for “an artistic photography”

Speaking of a victory picture and unexploded bombs, in the Gaza absurd spectacle, Hamas organized a press conference on Saturday, May 22, to demonstrate its victory in front of the world. During the press conference unexploded bombs and missiles were placed at the foot of a ruined building in one of the Gaza city streets while the speaker at the press conference, was placed on the rubble next to the pile of bombs.

Video of Hamas press conference, with a pile of unexploded ordnance. Downloaded from social media. No information about the author was found.

The reader can imagine what would be the media reaction around the world if during the live broadcasting of the press conference something goes wrong and the unexploaded bomb cause casualties among journalists and civilians who gathered to hear the Hamas announcement.

It is less known what happens with the unexploaded bombs after they fulfil their propaganda mission. A search in the web allows us to see "behind-the-scenes". The "bomb experts use to extract the explosives from the bombs and reuse them in rockets' warheads fired at Israeli citizens (a MK-84 (1000kg bomb) contains 429 kg standard explosives). This is the reason we see in some of the photos published recently, that the back of the bomb is wrapped in a blanket or rug, simply to prevent the explosive from falling during the transfer to the "treatment facility" for Israeli weapons.

Hamas operatives handling an unexploded MK-84 bomb in Khan Yunis

Photo credit of all pictures of this set: social media, author: unknown

Here we would like to remind you that in the past two weeks we have seen pictures all over the web, including pictures published by respected media channels and news services, claimed to be the aftermath from the recent Terror attack on Israel, but were taken in Syria, Afghanistan and other countries. There was also published the picture of a “dead Palestinian child from Gaza” that turned out to be a Russian girl who is gladly alive…

Since the topic is on the terrorists propaganda, we sould mention the so called "Pallywood" – the Palestinian propaganda media industry which is always active and producing fraudulent propaganda materials, pictures and videos, that the well oiled Palestinian propaganda machine is uploading to the web. Some of their famouse productions include videos from fabricated funerals, and fake photos of dead people.

We very seldom we can get behind the scenes access to see this Pallywood industry at work. This is why we would like to take the opportunity to share with you a video which may provide you with ‘food for thought’s about the capabilities of the talented special efects and makeup artists in Ghaza. The following video, was taken during an open ‘fun day’ for kids in Gaza on 2017.

Using emotional manipulations to achieve public consciousness shaping

As usual in any campaign against murderous manipulative terrorist organizations, we can recognize the modus operandi of the terrorists propaganda machine, and see manipulative use of well-directed images and videos, not reflecting reality as it is, but designed to shape the narrative and manipulate the public opinion. Even if the picture is fake - the picture is worth a thousand words.

The used tools are placing the “right materials” in a well orchestrated scene. The "right materials” in many cases will be the crying woman, the crying woman in front of a demolished house, an old man or woman holding a big rusty key, children and babies, and according to the desired effect needed, will be smiling or crying, clean or dirty, and sometimes wounded or dead (or appear to be as such...)

For example, the picture above of the pink toddler bed placed in front of a ruined house and a damaged industrial building, and a young boy walking by. It is easy to notice that everything is dusty but the kid and the pink bed are spotless, without a speck of dust. This picture provokes many questions about its authencity and makes the careful observer question other similar pictures.

We have no answers to these type of questions that might be raised regarding these photographs, but there is no doubt that “correct and powerful message” is sent. This message gives a considerable advantage of the Palestinian terror organizations in the battle for sympathy in the media and the social networks while the public opinion and consciousness are shaping.

I will note that the Palestinian propaganda machine makes frequent use of pictures of children as well as pictures of women crying on the background of ruins, because they fully understand the effect these images create - touching the right stings in our hearts; makes us all feel sympathy; and that wounded baby makes us all want to reach out to protect the baby. The desired side effect is well established now - such pictures make us angry towards whomever responsible perceived as guilty.

The outcome the Palestinian propaganda machine seeks, is to shape the consciousness of public opinion, and for this purpose like every good propaganda, “all means are Kosher”. Hence fabricating an alternative version of reality, that will best suite their purposes, is a way of life, and “the right way” for demonizing Israel.

And as always in the Palestinian eyes, even if Hamas was to blame for the Hamas rocket hitting a house somewhere in Gaza, it will always be Israel’s fault, therefore the world should blame Israel for the family that was murdered by Hamas…

Manipulating and orchestrating a scene for the “right priceless picture” is a part of the game, so we see the “right pile of rubble” being chosen for the background of the “right picture” and the “right elements” will be brought to the scene, such as the small children. Or the pink bed.

For these reasons we see all those pictures, the propaganda products distributed on social networks and media channels around the world. Images designed to manipulate and vibrate the strings of the souls of those exposed to Palestinian propaganda, and to evoke sympathy with the Palestinians and resentment against Israel "and the cruel Zionist occupation", even if the image was taken years ago, and even if "the Palestinian girl who was killed by the Zionist occupation in Gaza" is actually a Christian girl who, to our relief, lives her life in Russia, and even if the picture of the destroyed house and the wounded children was taken in Syria...

The girl claimed to be from "Gaza" torned by the Israeli attack is actually a Russian child which is doing well
The girl claimed to be from "Gaza" torned by the Israeli attack is actually a Russian child which is doing well


It is worth mentioning that some of the "victory pictures" published and spread across the social networks and media channels by the Palestinian propaganda, are not always related to the last round of Hamas terror attack. Some were taken during and during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

"Victory pictures" published by Palestinian propaganda pretending to be recent but actually they have been taken in August 2014

Photo credit of all pictures of this set: taken from social networks, photographer: Wissam Nassar = وسام نصار

Most if not all of the pictures coming out of the Gaza Strip, are intended for the propaganda purposes of the terrorist organizations.

Do not forget that there is no free press nor freedom of speech in Gaza, and if a journalist or a photographer publishes something “out of sync” from the Hamas line, they might be arrested or worst… (you can see the praises Hamas shower on Al-Jazeera Gaza office, and condemning other networks that were not as convenient to the Hamas' point of view. Hamas demanded the resignation of Mr. Matthias Schmale, the Director of UNRWA operations in Gaza, because he gave an interview to one of the Israeli news channels, and dared say what he thinks…)

All the pictures and videos of misery and destruction, have another very important role,

Hamas knows that those images will bring the terrorist organizations support and sympathy. Large amounts of money from Hamas fans and Muslim charity organizations from all over the world will go straight to the organization's leaders pockets...

At the same time, of course, Hamas expects a flow of money from donor countries from all over the world, which may be intended for rehabilitation, and as usual part of it will be redirected towards terror purposes and again - into the pockets of Hamas leaders and those close to them.

This round of fighting was different from other rounds of fighting against Hamas terrorism from Gaza. This time the rockets fired and the “brave victorious speaches” and “idle empty threats” even though targeting Israel, probably had nothing to do with Israel…

Hamas began firing on Israel with a barrage in the direction of Jerusalem, as part of Hamas political struggle with the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, over the control Judea and Samaria, and over the PA elections, and in my humble opinion it was also a part of the Hamas propaganda, for shaping the Palestinian and Arab and the Muslim world consciousness, seeking to establish a public image of Hamas, as the defender of Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque. For that purpose Hamas also did everything in their power to incite the Israeli Arabs to the riots we saw in Israeli cities and roads.

I will note that there are those who believe that the exposures of redirecting money that was collected as charity donations in the Muslim world to the needs of Hamas terrorism and to the pockets of Hamas members, were some of the reasons that led Hamas to launch the latest round of terror attack of more than 4,360 rockets fired against Israeli citizens.

Here is arising a question -

were these exposures the reasons why we saw Ismail Haniyeh and other senior Hamas figures taking “a world tour” to talks with Arab and Muslim leaders in various capitals around the Muslim world, weeks before the rocket attack towards Jerusalem, that led to “Operation Guardian of the Walls”?

A word for a summary

Definitely there is difference between the understanding and interpretation of victory on both sides of the Gaza-Israeli border. Although in war there are no true winners, we surprisingly see that Hamas celebrates victory after the last armed conflict. So what is this cultural context that actually percieves scenes of destructions and blood as an achievment? This only calls for a win in a battefield different from the political and military arena - the battlefield for the sympathy of millions of people and organizations around the world. Barricading themselves behind hospitals, scools and residence buildings the terrorists take advantage putting on the front lines civilians preferably mothers and children. The results provoke sympathy and ulock new money flows for reconstruction from around the globe. Unfortunatelly, the possibility this money to reach the kids from the pictures is lower than we can imagine. What most probably will happen is that the terrorist leaders will get richer, more powerful and reboosted for their next campaign on Isreaeli civilians. How this is possible, you can read in the article of CDR (ret.) Dr. Eyal Pinko about the money route and the use of digital currency by Hamas.

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