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Uncovering the Story Behind the Gazan ‘Mass Graves’

Palestinian fighters from the armed wing of Hamas take part in a military parade to mark the anniversary of the 2014 war with Israel, near the border in the central Gaza Strip, July 19, 2023. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Over the past week, Palestinian teams have been unearthing mass graves outside two Gaza medical complexes, Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis and Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, following the withdrawal of Israeli forces who were conducting counter-terrorism operations in the area.

With the opening of these graves, social media and some traditional news outlets have been abuzz with claims that these graves are evidence of mass killings of Palestinians by Israelis, and that some of those found inside the graves show signs of being tortured and killed execution-style with their hands tied behind their backs.

However, much like other sensationalist news stories about Israel’s conduct during its ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza, the story of the mass graves being propounded online and by some media outlets is a mixture of deception, falsehoods, and a reliance on biased sources.

The mass grave lie is being promoted by Hamas and its Western propagandists to distract attention from the fact that Gaza hospitals have been proven, time and again, to host terrorists and terror activity.

Hospital directors have admitted as much.

Why isn’t that being reported?

— Avi Mayer אבי מאיר (@AviMayer) April 24, 2024

What Is the Story Behind the Mass Graves?

Much of the news regarding the mass graves has surrounded the exhumation of hundreds of bodies on the grounds of Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis.

However, unlike what is being claimed, these mass graves were not dug by Israeli forces during their months-long siege and battle against Hamas terrorists operating within the medical complex.

Rather, these graves were dug by Palestinians prior to the arrival of the Israeli military in mid-February 2024.

Analysts have observed that these mass graves which are now being unearthed were documented as first being dug and used in late January and early February 2024 to bury people who had died in the hospital and could not be transported to a formal cemetery for internment.

As the battle between Israel and Hamas intensified around the medical complex, it is possible that newer bodies (of those who had been killed during the firefight or who had died at the hospital during the battle) were added to these mass graves. However, as noted by The Times of Israel, it is uncharacteristic for the IDF to “tend to the bodies of slain Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

Thus, if newer bodies were added to these mass graves over the course of the IDF’s operations in the area, it is likely that they were buried by Palestinians and not by Israelis.

1/5 Geolocation | Disproof of Palestinian lies about Nasser Hospital mass graves.

Fake claims by @tamerqdh about #IDF-caused massacre.

In Jan/Feb, this exact place was used by palestinians as temporary cemetry.
I found a burial video of 30+ persons on 28 January. >>

— Middle East Buka (@MiddleEastBuka) April 22, 2024

Alongside the false claims that Israel had dug these mass graves, representatives of Hamas in Gaza and the Hamas-affiliated Civil Defense have claimed that Israel dug up graves in the Nasser Hospital complex and then re-buried the deceased in these mass graves.

However, according to the IDF, while Israeli forces did exhume certain graves in order to determine whether dead Israeli hostages had been buried by Hamas in these graves, they did not desecrate the graves nor remove identifying markers.

After it had been determined that no hostages were buried on the grounds, the exhumed bodies were re-interred in their burial locations “in an orderly and proper manner.”

The deceitful claim that the IDF buried Palestinians in mass graves, not based whatsoever on facts, is wrong.
See full statement:

— LTC (S.) Nadav Shoshani (@LTC_Shoshani) April 23, 2024

A third claim that has been put forth about these mass graves is that some of the exhumed bodies have had their hands tied, allegedly proof for Israeli extrajudicial executions of Palestinians in the area.

However, there are several factors that call into question these allegations: No evidence has been provided for these claims, with only unverified reports alleging the existence of these bodies with their hands tied. These claims are not being put forward by impartial observers but by Hamas and its Gaza-based affiliates. If these bodies do exist, there is no evidence that Israel is responsible for their being bound.

Despite the lack of concrete evidence for the existence of these handcuffed corpses, even by a UN representative’s own admission, this has not stopped the UN from portraying their existence as solid fact, even headlining one of its releases “Mass graves in Gaza show victims’ hands were tied, says UN rights office.”

This unabashed reliance on Hamas reports has helped give these stories an air of legitimacy despite their being propounded by an internationally-recognized terror organization.

How Has the Media Covered the Mass Graves?

As the story of the mass graves continues to develop, media organizations have covered this story with varying levels of nuance and accuracy.

Predictably, Al Jazeera’s coverage was most in line with Hamas’ propaganda, uncritically parroting statements by the Civil Defense in Gaza as well as international leaders responding to the reports released by Hamas.

Only one paragraph is granted to the IDF’s denial that it had dug mass graves, and at no point is it stated as fact that these mass graves had been dug prior to the Israeli operation at Nasser Hospital.

In their reports, both Reuters and CNN provided fairly nuanced coverage, giving ample space to the IDF’s statements refuting the allegations against it, and admitting that some of the charges put forward by the Palestinians could not be substantiated.

However, in its coverage of the mass graves, the Associated Press provided a far less objective report, only including the IDF’s rebuttal seven paragraphs in, ignoring the fact that the reports on the mass graves were being released by a Hamas-affiliated body, and using the term “could not be independently verified” for Israel’s allegations but not those put forward by the Civil Defense or international bodies.

Thus, despite the unsubstantiated and biased information being released by the Civil Defense, AP treated it as fact while calling into question Israel’s response to these baseless allegations.

In its report on the mass graves, The Times presented the allegations of bodies with bound hands as established fact by quoting UN officials, despite the fact that these officials were basing themselves on Hamas reports and there was no physical evidence to corroborate these claims.

This is an appalling segment from @amanpour

It repeatedly cites the Gaza Civil Defense (that’s a fancy way of saying Hamas) and fails to mention that Hamas hid Israeli hostages in Gaza hospitals.

The IDF acknowledged that it examined bodies buried near Nasser Hospital when they…

— Aviva Klompas (@AvivaKlompas) April 24, 2024

While the mainstream media coverage of the mass graves has featured various levels of nuance and objectivity, social media has served as a source for the most extreme takes on this subject, with many uncritically parroting Hamas’ claims and using them as a cudgel with which to harm Israel’s reputation and the IDF’s integrity.

If you’re more mad about the college campus protests against mass graves than against the mass graves themselves you should probably take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror.

— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) April 25, 2024

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.

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Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction

Toronto Police have arrested and charged a man for assault over an incident May 9 near the protest encampment at the University of Toronto’s King’s College Circle on its downtown campus.  Toronto Police Services (TPS) say they responded at 3:45 p.m. that day to a call for assault in the area of the road around […]

The post Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘Any Chance the Media Would Cover This?’ New Video Shows Terrorists in Gaza Using Humanitarian Aid to Help Prepare Rockets

Terrorists in Gaza using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets. Photo: Screenshot

Terrorists in Gaza have been using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets they were preparing to shoot at Israelis, new video circulating on social media reveals, underscoring the challenges of delivering aid to Palestinian civilians in the Hamas-ruled enclave without it being stolen.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — which is the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasused bags from Turkey and UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for the Palestinians — to prop up the rockets, according to the video.

At least three of the bags say they contain “wheat flour,” and the bag from Turkey specifically says it is supposed to go “to the Palestinian people.” It is unclear whether the bags had previously been opened to extract the food and then refilled with sand, for example, or if it still contained the food that was intended to feed Palestinian civilians.

“Any chance the media would cover this, yet another violation of international humanitarian law?” pro-Israel commentator Hen Mazzig wrote on X/Twitter while sharing the video.

Rafah, Gaza: Hamas is using UN humanitarian aid bags as rocket launchers today.

Any chance the media would cover this, yet another, violation of International Humanitarian Law?

— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) May 29, 2024

Almost every day for the past seven months, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations have been shooting rockets into Israel from civilian areas, which is a war crime. Tens of thousands of Israelis are internally displaced and unable to return to their homes as a result.

There is mounting evidence that Hamas has also operated in civilian clothing and in civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. However, these violations of international law are rarely noted by much of the media.

The latest video of terrorists using humanitarian aid for military purposes underscores the issue of making sure such aid gets to Palestinian civilians. 

The US built a pier to deliver 2,000,000 meals daily to Palestinian civilians, but after a few weeks of operation, the Pentagon said none of the aid unloaded from the pier had made it to those who needed it. On one occasion, about 70 percent of the aid has been stolen while en route to a UN warehouse. In other cases, it just never showed up.

Israeli estimates suggest approximately 60 percent of the aid that has gone into Gaza has been stolen — either by Hamas or other groups and individuals. Oftentimes, that aid is then sold to the population at high prices, making it difficult to impossible for most Gazans to gain access to it. 

According to Ehud Yaari, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas has made more than $500 million in profit from selling humanitarian aid since Oct. 7.

The terror group began the war last October by massacring 1,200 people in Israel and taking more than 250 people hostage, about half of whom have still not been released.

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Columbia University Anti-Zionist Group Endorses Hamas

Demonstrators take part in an anti-Israel demonstration at the Columbia University campus, in New York City, US, Feb. 2, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado

Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has endorsed Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace antisemitic violence.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

.@Columbia and @BarnardCollege, @ColumbiaSJP is actively promoting terrorism and anti-Israel rhetoric on their social media channels. They are sounding more and more like Hamas spokespeople every day. When is the university going to permanently ban this “student group”?

— Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus (@CampusJewHate) May 26, 2024

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has reformed under multiple organizations since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, has been central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The group’s behavior after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the StandWithUs Center for League Justice (SCLJ).

The complaint alleges that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, the pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library, according to the lawsuit. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.

Following the incidents, pleas for help allegedly went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while SJP held its demonstrations. The school’s apparent powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events while no one explained the inconsistency.

The explosion of end-of-year protests held by the group forced Columbia officials to shutter the campus in April and institute virtual learning. Later, the group occupied Hamilton Hall, forcing President Minouche Shafik to call on the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for help, a decision she hesitated to make. According to The Columbia Spectator, over 108 arrests were made.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Amid the chaos, a prominent rabbi at the school urged Jewish students to leave the campus for the sake of their safety. Ultimately, the university cancelled its main commencement ceremony.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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