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Israel Exploits Captives in Gaza for Propaganda to Continue Extermination War

Wesam Abo Marq Wesam Abo Marq
22nd June 2024
Israel Exploits Captives in Gaza for Propaganda to Continue Extermination War
Photo from the hostage deal released by Al-Qassam.

Since October 7, the Israeli government has initiated an extensive social media campaign in major Western countries aimed at drumming up support for its genocidal campaign in Gaza. Israel has repeatedly used Israeli captives held in Gaza for propaganda purposes, exploiting them to justify its ongoing military war against Gaza civilians.

Israel Claims: 'There Are No Innocent Civilians' in Gaza

Israeli government social media accounts on platform X have been sharing a video featuring a quote from a recently freed captive held in Gaza, asserting that "there are no innocent civilians" in Gaza. This statement has sparked outcry online due to the high Palestinian death toll resulting from the ongoing Israeli genocidal campaign in Gaza.

The 51-second video includes images and clips related to the October 7 Operation against Israel and the Israeli aggression that followed. It also features an interview excerpt with Mia Schem from December, shortly after her release, where she states, "There are no innocent civilians there. Families there live under Hamas."

The video, originally posted on the Israeli government's main account, @Israel, on social media platform X, was shared widely.

Although the original post was removed shortly after, similar versions of the video surfaced on other X accounts managed by the Israeli government. These included posts from Israel’s embassies in Lithuania and South Korea, as well as from its consulate in Los Angeles.

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The Israeli government's use of the phrase "there are no innocent civilians" in an official video has ignited widespread criticism, with many condemning it as an effort to justify killing civilians amid the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza.

Contrary to the viral claim that "there are no civilians" in Gaza, Israel's barbaric war on Gaza since October 7 has resulted in the deaths of 37,396 Palestinians, including 15,694 children who have lost their lives and 17,000 who are now orphaned. In addition, 10,018 women have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics.

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A screenshot shows Palestinians’ death figures since October 7 (PCBS)

In a video released by Hamas's Al-Qassam Brigades on October 16, Mia Schem is seen undergoing surgery on her broken hand, during which she states that she was treated well, received necessary medicine, and found everything to be satisfactory in Gaza. In a subsequent interview after her release, Schem expressed positive experiences in Gaza, noting the kindness of its people and the good quality of the food.

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A screenshot of Al-Qassam’s video via Al Jazeera (Facebook)

However, following her release, Schem's stance shifted towards a different, possibly coerced, narrative aligning with Israeli propaganda.

Israeli Captive Ron Benjamin Was Not Killed on October 7

In a statement on May 18, 2024, the Israeli military’s official spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, announced that Ron Benjamin, an Israeli held captive in Gaza, was killed on October 7.

He further added that they recovered the body of Ron Benjamin alongside the bodies of three other hostages, whose identities have also been confirmed.

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A screenshot of the IOF Spokesperson’s statement on Ron Benjamin (YouTube)

Renowned media outlets, such as the BBC, have also spread the claim, alleging that Ron was killed on October 7, 2023.

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A screenshot of the BBC’s article.

However, Misbar’s team found an article released by the Hebrew media outlet Ynet disputing this claim. On December 2, 2023, the outlet reported that Ron Benjamin’s family received an official message stating that he was kidnapped to the Gaza Strip during the October 7 Operation, contradicting earlier reports of his death on October 7.

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A screenshot of Ynet’s article.

Ron’s brother, Shuki, told Ynet that they were relieved to learn he was alive, saying, "It's a good feeling after so long that we didn't know what happened to him. It's funny that I'm happy that my brother was kidnapped."

This refuted claim raises the possibility that the circumstances of Ron's death are unclear. He may have been killed alongside dozens of other captives during Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip during the aggression.

Israel's Contradictory Claims on a Captive's Body Retrieval from Gaza

Israel has shared two contradictory accounts regarding the retrieval of the body of Shani Louk, a German-Israeli held captive in Gaza, in October 2023. 

On October 30, 2023, Israeli President Yitzchak Herzog stated in an interview with BILD that Shani Louk was murdered after being taken to Gaza, claiming that the Israeli army found her corpse and her skull, which had allegedly been chopped by Hamas without any evidence.

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A screenshot of BILD’s article.

However, on May 18, 2024, Israel’s spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, said in a news conference that Shani Louk's body, along with the corpses of two other captives, was found in Gaza before their retrieval.

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A screenshot of the AP’s article.

Israel Exploits Video of Captives for Propaganda Purposes

On May 23, footage of five female Israeli captives taken captive at Nahal Oz was released by their families in a desperate bid to pressure Netanyahu to accept a hostage deal with Hamas. The families of these soldiers, captured on October 7, made the video public after receiving it from the Israeli army, which recently declassified the body cam footage for unclear reasons.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum stated that the release aims to pressure the government into negotiating a ceasefire deal with Hamas for the release of the captives.

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A screenshot of Al Jazeera’s article.

Yet, Israeli government-affiliated accounts have fabricated the video and claimed that the five hostages were Israeli civilians. Israel has exploited the video for propaganda purposes to continue its campaign of extermination against Gazan civilians. 

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In response, Hamas labelled the video as a "manipulated excerpt" that "cannot be verified," claiming its release is part of Israel’s efforts to misrepresent the resistance. Hamas also accused Israel of selectively editing the footage to support claims of assault, stating that the soldiers’ injuries were minor and expected in such situations.

Misbar's investigative team published a blog entitled "Misleading Aspects Found in Israel's Video of Five Female Soldiers Held Captive by Hamas on October 7," refuting widely published Israeli claims on the mentioned video.

Israel Uses Paid Ads to Drum Up Support for Killing Gaza Civilians

Since October 7, the Israeli government has launched a sweeping social media campaign in key Western countries to garner support for its military collective war on Gaza. A photo of a bloody, dead baby with a blurred face has been circulating on X, accompanied by a paid message from the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry that reads, “This is the most difficult image we’ve ever posted. As we are writing this, we are shaking.”

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A screenshot of Politico’s article.

As part of its strategy, Israel has been pushing dozens of ads featuring brutal and emotional imagery across platforms such as X and YouTube, according to data reviewed by POLITICO. Paying for online advertising targeted at specific countries and demographics has become a primary tool for governments to amplify their messages.

In just over a week in October, Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has run 30 ads that have been seen over 4 million times on X, according to the platform’s data. These paid videos and photos, which started appearing on October 12, were aimed at adults over 25 in Brussels, Paris, Munich, and The Hague.

The ads portray Hamas as a “vicious terrorist group,” similar to the Islamic State, and depict the scale and types of abuse, including gruesome images. Another paid video posted to X features text alternating between “ISIS” and “Hamas.”

“The world defeated ISIS. The world will defeat Hamas,” the ad ends.

On YouTube, the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry has released over 75 different ads, some of which are particularly graphic. These ads have been targeted at viewers in Western countries, including France, Germany, the U.S., and the U.K. 

In October 2023, Israel primarily focused on Europe with its narrative to gain support, directing nearly 50 video ads in English to E.U. countries.

These posts represent an escalation of Israel’s ongoing rhetoric on social media, where official accounts managed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration have frequently published graphic videos and advertisements to sway public opinion. 

Israeli officials have previously been accused of crossing rhetorical lines. After the October 7 Operation, Israeli President Isaac Herzog stated at a news conference that “it’s an entire nation that is out there that’s responsible,” referring to the Palestinian people. The International Court of Justice later cited his words in a report critical of Israel’s conduct, although Herzog claimed his words were taken out of context.

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A screenshot of NBC News’ article.

Read More

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Misleading Aspects Found in Israel's Video of Five Female Soldiers Held Captive by Hamas on October 7