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Tags: israel | hamas | propaganda | psychological operations

Hamas Using Psychological Warfare to Terrorize Israel, West

a poster showing ela elyakim

This poster shows Ela Elyakim, an 8-year-old Israeli girl abducted by Hamas militants during the Oct. 7 attack. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Micah Halpern By Tuesday, 28 May 2024 05:00 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Hamas is engaging in psychological terror.

Hamas is waging a psychological war not only against Israel, but also against the West. It is successful.

While inside a Hamas tunnel, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) discovered a video loop. On the video was 8-year-old Israeli Ela Elyakim. Ela and her 15-year-old sister, Dafna, were kidnapped on Oct. 7.

Abducted from their home on Kibbutz Nahal Oz, the hostages were taken to Gaza. Their father, his girlfriend, and her son were all murdered by Hamas terrorists that same day.

At the request of young Ela's family, the video has been released for public consumption. The family requested that it be shown as a way of illustrating to the world the psychological torture that Hamas was planning to inflict on the people of Israel, including the family and loved ones of Ela. 

After 51 days on Nov. 26, Ela and Dafna were freed.

Ela remembers making that video. She recalls that they made her change clothing and read from a script. They taped her standing alone in a room, giving the same message over and over and over again.

Since this war between Israel and Hamas began, Hamas has released numerous videos of Israeli captives taunting Israelis. In most of the videos, Hamas' captives implore Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring them home, admonish the prime minister for his inability to free them, and vilify him for his ineffective leadership.

All of the videos of Israeli hostages speaking to the camera are considered to be scripted, contrived — like the video Hamas released showing the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. It never happened.

Hamas seems to enjoy the video art form. 

Not only has it released hostage videos, Hamas has also released videos of Palestinians in Gaza. Starving Palestinians, injured Palestinians, dead Palestinians.

Many of these videos have featured the same actor, playing different roles. In one video he's injured, wrapped in bandages, being brought into hospital.

In another he is wearing a press vest and helmet. In yet another video he is screaming and crying in a crowd. We have also seen him being interviewed as a quintessential person on the street.

Hamas makes up numbers and fabricates deaths. It is probably its most effective strategic use of psychological terror.

There are videos of parents seeing their "critically injured" child brought into hospitals and then — when the child now actor sees a parent, the child scurries off the gurney, hugs the parent, and then jumps back on.

There are examples of dead people getting off stretchers when bombs start dropping. It's all done for the cameras. And it's all documented.

Perhaps the best example of Hamas' fiction being spread as fact is the bombing of the Al Ahli Arab Hospital. Hamas claimed that 500 people were killed and another 342 were wounded when the hospital was bombed by Israel on Oct 27, 2023, 10 days after the Hamas massacre: the beheadings, burnings, slaughter, and rapes of Israelis.

Turns out, only the parking lot, not the hospital, was hit. More importantly, the rocket that hit the hospital's parking lot was shot by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) — not Israel. 

But the message was out there and the damage was done. People around the world still believe that Israel bombed the hospital even though there is, on the record, an intercepted recording of PIJ terrorists saying that they shot the rocket and they hit the hospital by mistake.

In January 2024, three months into the war with Hamas, the terrorists released a video of a 26-year-old Israeli hostage named Noa Argamani. In her video Noa reported that two other hostages, Itai Svirsky and Yossi Sharabi, had been killed. There was a picture of dead bodies.

One day earlier, Hamas had released another video. In that video Itai and Yossi were alive. They spoke their names, said where in Israel they lived, and pleaded with Israelis to influence Netanyahu to stop the war and free the captives.

Psychological warfare!

Hamas' tactic is to build more and more pressure exploiting the families of the captives and the nation of Israel. They want to influence the Israeli government to stop the war so that the hostages will be brought home.

Hamas is engaged in an insidious, heartless, and diabolical form of psychological terror. For years, various militaries have made use of psychological operations (PSYOPs) or psywar or political warfare or even propaganda in the fight for the "hearts and minds" of their enemies.  Some of these strategies were brutal and some were strange.

In 525 B.C.E., in the (mythical) Battle of Pelusium, an ancient Egyptian city, Persia ousted the pharaohs. Fifty-thousand Egyptians and only 7,000 Persians died.

To explain the massive defeat, a historian named Polyaenus described the brilliant Persian strategy. He said the Egyptians held cats in high esteem — in such high esteem that they even had a cat goddess named Bastet.

Egyptians would never harm a cat. So during their invasion, Persians carried cats in front of them, knowing that Egyptian archers would refuse to shoot. 

During World War I, David Lloyd George, prime minister of the United Kingdom, produced over 1,160 different propaganda pamphlets. These booklets were very influential in swaying public opinion on the continent. England and its Propaganda Agency at Wellington House employed some of the greatest craft writers in the English language to tell the story of England against their enemies. Writers in the national propaganda effort included H.G. Wells, Authur Canon Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, and Thomas Hardy.

Hamas learned from the best.

Israel, too, uses booklets, pamphlets, and leaflets. But Israel uses them, along with text messaging, to alert Palestinians to leave certain areas and move to safer locales. Israel uses these tools to help save Palestinians; Hamas uses them to terrorize Israel and the West.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern," a weekly TV program, and "My Chopp," a daily radio spot. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.

Hamas is engaging in psychological terror.Hamas is waging a psychological war not only against Israel, but also against the West. It is successful.
israel, hamas, propaganda, psychological operations
Tuesday, 28 May 2024 05:00 PM
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