When the U.S. previously was involved in wars, military and political officials warned of the potential damage from an indiscreet word: “Loose lips sink ships” was one such advisory.
Now officials in the interior ministry for Hamas, one of the Middle East organizations designated by the United States as a terror group, apparently has another slogan: propagandize all the time.
“Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don’t forget to add ‘innocent civilian’ or ‘innocent citizen’ in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza,” the group dictated in an advisory to social media activists, bloggers and others who may write about the issue.
And the group said when Palestinians are conversing with Westerners, they should “avoid entering into a political argument … aimed at convincing him that the Holocaust is a lie and deceit; instead, equate it with Israel’s crimes against Palestinian civilians.”
It was the Middle East Media Research Institute that located the guidelines “to Gaza Strip social media users for reporting events and discussing them with outsiders.”
The rules, headlined “Be Aware – Social Media Activist Awareness Campaign,” were released through a video posted on the Hamas website, as well through Twitter and Facebook, MEMRI said.
MEMRI reports the guidelines “are aimed an ensuring preservation of the line of Hamas and other Palestinian organizations; preventing the leaking of information that would be of military value to Israel; bolstering Hamas’ propaganda efforts outside the Gaza Strip, in both the Arab world and the West; and preventing damage to Hamas’ image.”
The analysts said Hamas particularly wants to portray that its actions are a response to “Israeli aggression.”
The battle between Israel and interests in the Gaza Strip, mostly Hamas, had been festering for days, with dozens of rockets aimed at Israeli sites daily. Israel has been responding with rockets targeted at terror compounds or operations.
It blew up Thursday night, with a surge of rockets apparently intended to knock down the Hamas capability of sending rockets into random Israeli neighborhoods.
The instructions from Hamas said, “The Information Department of the Ministry of the Interior and National Security has instructed activists on social media websites, particularly Facebook, to correct some of the commonly used terms as they cover the aggression taking place in the Gaza Strip. The following Information Department video calls on all activists to use the proper terminology, in order to play their part in strengthening the home front and in properly conveying information worldwide.”
Among other instructions:
- “Begin [your reports of] news of resistance actions with the phrase ‘In response to the cruel Israeli attack,’ and conclude with the phrase ‘This many people have been martyred since Israel launched its aggression against Gaza.’ Be sure to always perpetuate the principle of ‘the role of the occupation is attack, and we in Palestine are fulfilling [the role of] the reaction.’”
- “Beware of spreading rumors from Israeli spokesmen, particularly those that harm the home front. Be wary regarding accepting the occupation’s version [of events]. You must always cast doubts on this [version], disprove it, and treat it as false.”
- “Avoid publishing pictures of rockets fired into Israel from [Gaza] city centers. This [would] provide a pretext for attacking residential areas in the Gaza Strip. Do not publish or share photos or video clips showing rocket launching sites or the movement of resistance [forces] in Gaza.”
- “To the administrators of news pages on Facebook: Do not publish close-ups of masked men with heavy weapons, so that your page will not be shut down [by Facebook] on the claim that you are inciting violence. In your coverage, be sure that you say: ‘The locally manufactured shells fired by the resistance are a natural response to the Israeli occupation that deliberately fires rockets against civilians in the West Bank and Gaza’…”
MEMRI reported that the interior ministry also had suggestions for Palestinian activists who speak to Westerners.
- “When speaking to the West, you must use political, rational, and persuasive discourse, and avoid emotional discourse aimed at begging for sympathy. There are elements with a conscience in the world; you must maintain contact with them and activate them for the benefit of Palestine. Their role is to shame the occupation and expose its violations.”
- “Avoid entering into a political argument with a Westerner aimed at convincing him that the Holocaust is a lie and deceit; instead, equate it with Israel’s crimes against Palestinian civilians.”
- “The narrative of life vs. the narrative of blood: [When speaking] to an Arab friend, start with the number of martyrs. [But when speaking] to a Western friend, start with the number of wounded and dead. Be sure to humanize the Palestinian suffering. Try to paint a picture of the suffering of the civilians in Gaza and the West Bank during the occupation’s operations and its bombings of cities and villages.”
Finally, the advisory notes: “Do not publish photos of military commanders. Do not mention their names in public, and do not praise their achievements in conversations with foreign friends.”