The state of Israel scored a major victory in its war against the people of Gaza when it captured ‘al-Shifa’ hospital on Wednesday (November 16). Israeli soldiers, the IDF, were seen foisting their flag on the top of the hospital. Their claim was that this hospital was a cover for the military operation of Hamas. In fact, it was much more sinister than that. It was the base from which Hamas was conducting its military action. This claim made al-Shifa a ‘legitimate’ target for Israeli forces.
Just a day before the Israeli forces tightened their siege on the hospital, the Pentagon felt it necessary to justify this by claiming that it had credible intelligence inputs that al-Shifa was being used by Hamas. When asked about the source, the spokesperson refused to comment but admitted that the USA did not have its own boots on the ground. Which is to say that what it is presenting before the world as evidence is supplied by Israel and there is no independent party to verify its claims.
That Israel has been lying all along was proven after it conquered the hospital which it alleged was a military base of its enemy. It was reported by sympathetic media that “In a video filmed at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, showed about 10 guns, ammunition, protective vests and Hamas military uniforms, some of which he said were hidden behind M.R.I. machines, others in nearby storage units and some behind what he described as a ‘blast-proof door.'” But the media platform took caution to say that, “The assertions made in the video could not be independently verified.”
No independent verification, no third party check and yet, we are asked to trust Israel. Only because NATO and the Americans say so? We are shamed if we raise doubt. And asked how can we not trust a country like Israel? Is it not the only true democracy in the Middle East? Does it not espouse the values of enlightenment? And above all, was it not wronged on October 7 and does it not have the right to defend itself? The last one seems to click all arguments.
Governments have been asking us to believe what Israel presents before us as evidence because it is a victim of Hamas – an assertion presented as truth without verification. American political scientist Norman Finkelstein rightly asked, even if slightly sarcastically, as to why “Hamas didn’t take the weapons to its command-and-control centre beneath al-Shifa. No, it decided to leave these weapons lying around in the radiology ward so as to give Israel a photo-op.”
That it was all a set up by Israel is so clear from the video that it was immediately called out and laughed at. The video was so embarrassing that the IDF quietly deleted it without any explanation.
No explanation because Israel knows that it does not need to explain its lies. They are seen as necessary by its patrons or allies to justify its massacre of the Palestinian people.
The al-Shifa-lie was the latest but it was preceded by several others that tell us about the nature of the Israeli state. One of the many close observers of Israeli propaganda, journalist Dalia Hatuqa, is archiving them. Let us take a look at some of them:
- “The ‘infamous’ calendar: They showed a paper on a wall of a hospital that they said was a ‘list of terrorist names’ – Those who read Arabic recognised it as having the days of the week written down.
- They claimed they’re sending incubators to the hospital, despite the issue being the lack of fuel needed to run said incubators, which are available anyway. Three premature babies and many ICU patients died as a result.
- They claimed that projectiles fired by Palestinian militants hit al-Shifa hospital on November 10. The NYT debunked that claim and showed that it was Israeli shelling that led to the death of 7 Palestinians there that day.
- They said they targeted a car with “terrorists” in Lebanon. It emerged that the vehicle had three little girls, their mother and grandmother. Only the mom survived the shelling.
- They showed a video of a nurse in a hospital in Gaza saying Hamas is holding people as human shields. That video was debunked as fake and that the woman was a Mexican-Israeli actor.
Yesterday the claim was that Hamas was using al-Shifa as a “command centre” to hold hostages, and that they stored weapons there. Now it’s about tunnels. A senior Israeli official said that the purpose of the IDF operation at the al-Shifa hospital wasn’t to rescue hostages but to locate and expose a Hamas tunnels hub that connects the hospital with other parts of the Gaza strip.”
Lie after lie. And one after the other, they get debunked.
What is and should be treated as true by any sensible person is what independent sources, that is those who are neither Palestinian nor Israeli, have been saying. Those who have worked at al-Shifa for decades. They have been refusing Israeli claims of the hospital being a military base or cover of Hamas. But Israel’s powerful allies choose to believe its lies. Or, knowing well that Israel was lying they decided to back it. After all, are these not the same countries which had invented the truth of Iraq hoarding WMD to invade the country and destroy it?
Lies are necessary because they work. They work because they appeal to our prejudices. It is more likely that the civilised world would accept that Hamas beheaded babies and burnt them because there is already a belief that Hamas is made of non-humans. They are capable of such horrible act! But Israeli leaders are part of us. They have been trained in modern institutions. They share our sensibility. And they follow the famed European values. They have to be trustworthy.
It is important to lie first. Because it sticks in the minds of the people. Then after it is found to be a lie you claim that it was immaterial because irrespective of truth, was it not necessary to attack Gaza? Was it not important to remove Hamas? If the lie serves a purpose, why not use it?
That is what we heard after the USA and UK shamelessly accepted that they were lying about the WMD and the fact that Saddam Hussain was a despot more important. So was removing him not a duty?
Similarly, we are asked to disregard the fact of Israel lying because removing the horrible Hamas is necessary.
But what is more frightening is that even after being proven wrong, lies are repeated by powerful people. US President Joe Biden repeated only yesterday the lie of Hamas beheading and burning babies even after it was debunked and Israel itself went silent about it. This lie is repeated brazenly because the lier knows that there is a constituency for it. He also repeated the lie that Hamas was working from under the hospitals even when Israel has failed to provide any evidence for that.
The lie of hospitals being command centres or hiding tunnels was used by the West to give a free pass to Israel to attack hospitals. Then Israel said that everyone it attacks or kills is bound to be a Hamas-front or accomplice. So, doctors, journalists and United Nations workers have all been declared as Hamas fronts and therefore legitimate targets. There is no outrage in the civilised world!
Why is Israel so confident that its lies would be bought by the civilised world? Is it because there is a powerful opinion which supports the elimination of people like the Palestinians who are seen as backward and less human?
It might sound slightly offending but is it not the case that, as an observer wrote, “Israel’s obvious lies aren’t meant to convince people who don’t want to kill Palestinian children, they are meant to placate the guilt of people who DO want to kill Palestinian children.”
What is encouraging is that there is an equally significant number of people even in the countries which are officially backing Israel who are not ready to be driven by Israel’s lies. Who are not ready to give Israel a free pass and who know that the most ethical thing is to stand by the oppressed people. In this case, they have to stand with the Palestinians.