Media Using Hamas-Provided Casualty Numbers for Gaza Riots Reporting

Palestinian men help evacuate an injured protester during clashes with Israeli troops near Khan Yunis by the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on March 23, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)
SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty

The international news media is widely citing data released by Hamas-run health agencies in the Gaza Strip when reporting on the numbers of injuries at violent protests along the Israel-Gaza border.

The Hamas terrorist organization has a history of distorting casualty counts.  The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry claims that some 1,400 Palestinians were injured during protests Friday and Saturday, further claiming that over half of those numbers were wounded by live rounds fired by the Israel Defense Forces.

The Hamas numbers have been cited in headlines and news media coverage by major media organizations worldwide.

Israel says it has no way to independently verify the Hamas numbers.  IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis accused Hamas of exaggerating the casualty count and stressed that IDF information indicates only several dozen at most were wounded by live fire. Manelis explained that the remaining injuries were likely caused by tear gas and other riot dispersal methods.

Of the 16 Palestinians reportedly killed, the IDF says that 10 were members of Palestinian terrorist groups, publishing their names and jihadist positions.

Hamas itself provided evidence that it is cynically utilizing the cover of civilian demonstrators to attack Israel, thus drawing Israeli fire toward the crowds. On Saturday, Hamas released photographs of five members of its so-called military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades jihad unit, announcing they were among the 16 Gazans reportedly killed on Friday.

Hamas stated that the five jihadists were killed while taking part “in popular events side-by-side with their people.” In other words, the terrorists were killed most likely attempting to carry out attacks while surrounded by civilian protesters.

The IDF said the Hamas members disguised themselves among the civilian protesters.

The Times of Israel further reported on the 10 terrorists the IDF says were killed in the protests:

According to the Israel Defense Forces, eight of the men killed were members of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. One served in the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and another was affiliated with “global jihad,” it said, apparently referring to one of the Salafist groups in Gaza.

The army said that at least one of the Hamas members, Sari Abu Odeh, was part of the group’s elite Nukhba force and that another, Muhammad Abu Amro, served in its tunnel operations.

The IDF identified one of the two Hamas members who shot at Israeli soldiers on Friday evening and attempted to breach the security fence, before they were shot dead, as 23-year-old Mussa’b al-Saloul.

According to the IDF, rioters on Friday threw firebombs and hurled rocks at soldiers, attempted to breach the Israeli border, attempted to damage the border fence, and opened fire on Israeli troops.

The IDF released scores of pictures capturing the violence, including Palestinians in the midst of attacking soldiers.  The images demonstrate Israel’s need to use force to quell riots in which some Gazans are attempting to violently storm the border of a sovereign nation or attack soldiers.

The Hamas terrorist group organized the mass riots under the banner of the “March of Return”, seeking to escalate protests the next few weeks leading up to Israel’s 70th Anniversary celebrations next month and the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

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