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Palestinian Detainee Images Spark Furor and Misinformation in Mainstream Media & Social Media

Israeli soldiers operate at the Shajaiya district of Gaza city amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, Dec. 8, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Yossi Zeliger

Over the past few days, several photos and videos have emerged of Palestinian men (many of them stripped to their underwear) being detained by Israeli soldiers in various parts of northern Gaza.

In both the mainstream media and social media, these images have elicited a fair amount of attention, with some criticizing the IDF’s measures and others engaging in the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy theories surrounding this picture are spreading like wildfire.

Mass graves.
Humiliation.
Torture.
Abducted civilians who are never seen again.

In reality, there are already reports that some of these men have been released… pic.twitter.com/tLitHyHGF7

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) December 8, 2023

These images depict military-age men being detained in the northern Gaza Strip.

After intensive fighting between Israeli soldiers and Hamas terrorists, these men exited nearby buildings and tunnel shafts en masse, surrendering to Israeli forces.

The men were then detained with restraints and, in some cases, blindfolds, and taken to processing areas where it was determined by Israeli security officials whether they were members of Hamas or civilians. If they were civilians, they were then released from Israeli custody.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari confirms many Hamas members have surrendered to troops in the Gaza Strip today, saying they have revealed intelligence information on the terror group’s functioning amid the ground offensive.

“In Shejaiya and Jabaliya, terrorists who… pic.twitter.com/Ws2M3VR8lD

— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) December 9, 2023

The reason that so many have been photographed in various states of undress is due to the fear that they may be hiding explosives and weapons under their clothing and waiting to ambush Israeli soldiers.

This fear is not unfounded, as Hamas is known for its past use of suicide bombers and there have been recorded incidents of terrorists feigning surrender only to attack security forces once they get closer (as occurred with “surrendering” ISIS terrorists in Iraq in 2017).

Also, since it has been over a month since Israel initially warned residents of northern Gaza to evacuate to the south, it is understandable for Israeli forces to be suspicious of any male emerging from hideouts in Hamas enclaves in the north, and to treat them as a potential threat until it can be determined otherwise.

As Israeli spokesperson Eylon Levy made clear in a recent interview on CNN, this is the result of Hamas’ choice to embed itself within a civilian population and to have its members fight against Israeli soldiers while wearing civilian clothing with no markers identifying them as combatants (a clear violation of international law).

If Hamas terrorists had “HAMAS” written on their helmets, obviously it would be easier to fight them.

That’s why they dress up as civilians. pic.twitter.com/0kNbECXfEZ

— Eylon Levy (@EylonALevy) December 9, 2023

Despite the necessity of having detainees remove their clothing to ensure that they are not armed or boobytrapped, the images of Israeli soldiers surrounding near-naked Palestinian detainees have caused quite a stir in both the mainstream media and on social media.

As Ryan McBeth, a US Army veteran and intelligence analyst with a large following on social media, said in a recent video on this subject, “Israel does this because it is the most efficient way of making sure that nobody has a suicide vest. However, the optics of it are less than stellar.”

I guess everyone has already seen the images of the Palestinian detainees that are widely shared on this platform since yesterday.

Never thought I’d share a link to @SkyNews to provide an expert opinion about the context of the images. but here we are, nonetheless.… pic.twitter.com/osJAgoqgAV

— Mark Zlochin – מארק זלוצ’ין༝ (@MarkZlochin) December 8, 2023

In the days following the initial release of these photos of male Palestinian detainees in northern Gaza, several mainstream news organizations reported with varying levels of nuance and accuracy.

In The Times of London’s coverage, it’s not until the fourth paragraph that it’s mentioned that “some of the men” were reportedly “Hamas fighters who surrendered to the army.”

Then, two paragraphs later, the report states that “Israeli forces regularly strip their captives to ensure they are not carrying concealed weapons or explosives.”

In both its headline and the text of its report, The Telegraph claims that the detained men were stripped and “paraded” through a central square that was once used by Hamas, evoking images of victorious forces flaunting their captive enemies.

However, the report fails to provide evidence for any “parade” and its video evidence merely shows male Palestinian detainees sitting under the watchful eye of Israeli soldiers.

Dozens of Palestinian men captured by the Israeli military were stripped to their underwear and paraded around a central square in Gaza where Hamas fighters used to hold rallies.

Read more https://t.co/xA7wQ4CWr0 pic.twitter.com/l6HtGkPe6X

— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) December 7, 2023

The BBC began with quotes from both the IDF spokesperson and Eylon Levy, but then gave greater space to those critical of the IDF’s actions, including Palestinian envoy Husam Zomlot, who described them as “savage images” and said that “this evokes some of humanity’s darkest passages of history.”

While the removal of these detainees’ clothes is mentioned, it is referred to as “humiliating” and “horrifying,” with no reason given for why they were made to do so. Thus, the reader is left with an impression of Israeli cruelty rather than the understanding that it is necessary in an active war zone where the enemy embeds itself among the civilian population.

Likewise, NBC News used the terms “humiliating” and “humiliation” several times, but did not offer one word about why Israeli forces required them to remove their clothing upon surrendering.

NBC News also seemed intent on discrediting Israel’s counter-terrorism activities by questioning the validity of certain Israeli actions and using a statement by Hamas to refute Israel’s claim that some of those detained were “Hamas terrorist operatives.”

Images from Gaza show dozens of men stripped to underwear and detained by Israeli forces.

Israel says it has detained a number of “military-age men” in the area in attempts to identify any Hamas fighters. https://t.co/jPHuGUK9wO

— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 9, 2023

The New York Times gave four paragraphs to official Israeli explanations for the IDF’s activities — but more than three times as many were given those critical of Israel’s detainment of these Palestinian men.

The New York Times’ description of these detainees as being “tied up outdoors and stripped to their underwear” helps to create a false image of these detainees being cruelly treated like animals by the IDF, instead of the reality of them being detained until it could be determined whether they were enemy combatants or not.

For its part, Sky News gave ample space to the allegations put forward by Israel and the IDF and did not color its coverage with language meant to portray Israel’s actions in a negative light.

Overall, the narrative being created by most of these news organizations is one of Israeli retribution and cruel vengeance against Palestinian detainees instead of what it actually is: a concerted effort to protect Israeli forces against attack while also trying to distinguish Hamas members from civilians in an active and fraught war zone.

While many on social media pushed the above false narrative about Israel’s conduct in northern Gaza, others went further, spreading both misinformation and conspiracy theories about Israel’s treatment of the detainees.

Some claimed that Israel took these detainees to be hostages, others claimed that the images served as evidence for the “indiscriminate arrest and torture of all Palestinian men,” while others even went so far as to claim that the detainees were taken away to be executed.

In one incident, a video of a man being instructed by Israeli soldiers to lay down a rifle on the ground was used by several social media personalities like Muhammad Shehada, Angelo Giuliano, and Max Blumenthal, to claim that it was staged by the IDF in order to serve as a “victory image.”

According to these claims, the existence of two videos of the man laying down a rifle proves that it was done a couple of times for the benefit of the cameras.

However, this claim was quickly refuted by those who proved that there are different rifles in these videos and that the man was probably chosen by the IDF to remove all rifles that were among the group of Palestinian men surrendering to the Israeli military.

Even though there were Hamas members among the Palestinian detainees and they were forced to remove their clothing to ensure that they were not concealing weapons or explosives, the images of Israeli soldiers standing over half-naked Palestinian men have engendered a storm within both the mainstream media and social media.

The storm over these photos has been wrongfully directed at Israel and the IDF instead of the true perpetrators in these images: the terrorists who hide among civilians, endangering both Palestinian civilians and Israeli soldiers.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The post Palestinian Detainee Images Spark Furor and Misinformation in Mainstream Media & Social Media first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Brown University Investigating Threats of Violence Sent to Hillel Officials

More than 200 Brown University students gathered outside University Hall where roughly 40 students sat inside demanding the school divest from weapons manufacturers amid the Israel-Hamas war. Photo: Amy Russo / USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

Two officials of Brown-RISD Hillel, a Jewish life  center serving both Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design, were sent “violent threats” early Sunday morning, according to a report by The Brown Daily Herald.

After being alerted of threats, which were sent via email, the university’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) conducted a search of Brown-RISD Hillel and determined there is “no evidence of any one-site threat.” DPS vice president Rodney Chatman told The Brown Daily Herald that “local, state, and federal authorities” are investigating the incident.

“This comes at an especially difficult time of distress on our campuses,” Brown University president Christina H. Paxson said in a statement addressing the incident. “Our students, faculty, and staff continue to grapple with the deaths of Israelis, Palestinians, and others in the wake of the October 7 attacks, as well as a despicable act of violence against a member of the Brown community here in the United States last November, and increases in reports of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate.”

In Sunday’s statement President Paxson said that “robust” security measures will be implemented to protect Brown-RISD Hillel, as well as the officials who were threatened, from harm.

The incident is not the first antisemitic act of hatred since Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7.

In December, the university’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity opened an investigation into an incident in which someone slipped a threatening note underneath the door of an off-campus apartment rented by Jewish students.

“Those who live for death will die by their own hand,” said the note, which, according to the Brown Daily Herald, matches lyrics from a song by an early 1980s punk band. The paper added that the note was found by an electrician, who brought it inside.

A similar incident occurred last November at a Brown-RISD Hillel. Additionally, in 2020, a swastika was graffitied in Brown’s Hegeman Hall. In 2017, another was found in a gender-neutral bathroom at RISD. It was drawn using human feces, according to the Brown Daily Herald.

Last week, President Paxson rejected the demands of anti-Zionist students who were participating in a hunger strike in an effort to force the Brown Corporation to vote on a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) resolution against Israel and make other concessions.

The university has twice ordered the arrests of extremist anti-Zionists student protesters, who have held unauthorized demonstrations in administration buildings, sometimes occupying them for hours after being asked to leave. Over 40 were arrested in December while onlookers shouted “Shame on Brown, Shame on Brown!”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Brown University Investigating Threats of Violence Sent to Hillel Officials first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘Free Palestine:’ Texas Church Shooter Suspected of Having Pro-Hamas Ideology

Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, shot a man at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, on February 12, 2024. Photo: Twitter

A woman who stormed a church in Houston, Texas, on Sunday with an AR-15 rifle and shot one person before being killed by police was apparently a Hamas supporter, according to details on the incident reported by CNN.

On Monday, the outlet reported that “Free Palestine” was written on the shooter’s rifle.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the shooter has since been identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36. The woman has an extensive criminal history which includes arrests for marijuana possession, assault, theft, and forgery.

On Sunday afternoon, Moreno walked into the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas — an institution famous for being the church of charismatic Christian preacher Joel Osteen — with a child and a gun. Wearing a trench coat and a knapsack, she threatened to have explosives, according to multiple reports. Most of the worshipers in attendance were Hispanic and attending a Spanish language service.

Moreno shot one man, leaving him critically injured, and was shot and killed by Houston Police. A child was also shot during the incident, but police are still unsure of whether they or Moreno are responsible for doing it.

“I want to commend those officers. She had a long gun and it could have been a lot worse,”  Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said during a press conference later in the day.

An investigation of Moreno’s motives is ongoing.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post ‘Free Palestine:’ Texas Church Shooter Suspected of Having Pro-Hamas Ideology first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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London Theater Facing Legal Action After Comedy Show Turns Into ‘Antisemitic Rally’

British comedian Paul Currie. Photo: Instagram

A London theater is facing legal action after an Israeli man was hounded out of a comedy show on Saturday night by a comedian performing a one-man show that turned into what some audience members compared to an “antisemitic rally.”

A spokesperson for the UK’s Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said the group was in touch with the Israeli man and other members of the audience who fled from the theater.

“What the Jewish audience members have recounted is atrocious, and we are working with them and our lawyers to ensure that those who instigated and enabled it are held to account,” the CAA spokesperson told London’s Evening Standard news outlet. “These allegations are of deeply disturbing discriminatory abuse against Jews. Comedians are rightly given broad latitude, but hounding Jews out of theaters is reminiscent of humanity’s darkest days, and must have no place in central London in 2024.”

The comedian, Paul Currie, had been performing a one-man show entitled “Shtoom” at London’s Soho Theater. Towards the end of his performance, he retrieved a Ukrainian and Palestinian flag and invited members to stand and applaud.

After the round of applause was over, Currie pointed to a man in the second row of the theater and quizzed him over why he had not stood up.

The unnamed man, an Israeli, replied, “I enjoyed your show until you brought out the Palestinian flag.” An infuriated Currie began screaming, “Leave my show now! Get out of my f—-ing show!” in response.

As the man and his partner rose to leave, accompanied by a handful of other shocked audience members, the assembled crowd began chanting “Get out” and “Free Palestine.”

In a written complaint to the theater over his treatment, the man wrote: ” Shaken and feeling threatened by the growing antagonism, we exited and tried to complain/ get some support from the front-of-house team at the theatre, who were not very sympathetic but did give us an email address to make a complaint. By this time, the show had ended and the audience started exiting, a number of whom were glaring at us aggressively and in a very threatening way. We all left the scene.”

He added: “Our friends later received a message from someone they knew who had also been at the show, saying that after we left, the situation became even more inflamed. What had been intended to be an evening of comedy turned out to be what felt like an antisemitic rally.”

The theater eventually apologized, issuing a statement expressing regret an “an incident that took place at our venue at the end of a performance of Paul Currie: Shtoom on Saturday 10 February, which has caused upset and hurt to members of audience attending and others.” It added: “We take this very seriously and are looking into the detail of what happened as thoroughly, as sensitively, and as quickly as we can. It is important to us that Soho theatre is a welcoming and inclusive place for all.”

Currie has remained largely silent since the incident, save for a post on Instagram which quoted Mexican poet Cesar A. Cruz saying: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”  He then added: “If you were at my show last night… you’ll know.”

The post London Theater Facing Legal Action After Comedy Show Turns Into ‘Antisemitic Rally’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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