Independent Arabia, operating under the imprimatur of a presumably “Western” media outlet, published a report from Gaza (“’Your soldiers are still in Gaza’ – Hamas shakes up the portfolio of Israeli captives”, October 23rd) that parroted Hamas propaganda .
Written by ‘Izz ad-Deen Abu-‘Eisheh, the news organization’s correspondent in the Strip, the report covered a new Hamas propaganda poster issued to mark the 8th anniversary of the prisoner exchange deal involving Gilad Shalit, using it as a launching point to discuss the possibility of such a deal between Hamas and Israel in the near future.
The poster features the photos of Hadar Goldin and Oron Sha’ul, two fallen soldiers, and of Avera Mengistu and Hesham Sha’ban as-Sayed, two captive civilians, all currently being held by Hamas at unknown locations inside the Strip.
However, to both Hamas and Abu-‘Eisheh all four are soldiers, and all four are alive (all translations, emphases and in-bracket remarks are by CAMERA Arabic):
“On the 8th anniversary of Operation ‘Deal of the Free’, in which a prisoner exchange took place between Israel and the Hamas movement under Egyptian auspices and international supervision, the [‘Izz ad-Deen] al-Qassam battalions, Hamas’ military wing, have published a poster showing Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, in a state of frustration – accompanied by the captive Israeli soldiers in the Strip […].
“This is not the first time that al-Qassam battalions publish messages about the Israeli soldiers it detains […]
“During Israel’s war on Gaza in the summer of 2014, Hamas managed to capture two soldiers (Hadar Goldin and Sha’ul Aron [sic, i.e. Oron Sha’ul]), and it arrested two additional soldiers (Ibrahim [Avera] Mengistu and Hesham as-Sayed) who entered Gaza by mistake on separate occasions, according to Israeli claims.
”Since the moment of captivity, al-Qassam battalions has been keeping these Israeli soldiers in the Gaza strip, not releasing any information about them, however they have implied more than once they are alive.”
The report’s photo captions also read, under photos of the four:
“A poster of the Israeli soldiers, released by al-Qassam battalions on Shalit Deal’s anniversary”
“A military show of al-Qassam battalions, featuring the photos of the soldiers detained by Hamas”
The truth of the matter is that Hamas’ battalions don’t have a single “captive soldier” in their hands.
Firstly, Goldin and Shau’l aren’t “captive”, they were killed in action; almost no mainstream–media news outlet has challenged Israel’s official declarations of their deaths in over five years, whatever Hamas may “imply”.
Secondly, Mengistu and as-Sayed aren’t soldiers; they’re kidnapped, mentally-ill civilians whose “soldier” status is purported by Hamas for its own objectives despite the facts that Mengistu was never conscripted, and that as-Sayed was discharged as early as 2008 after having completed less than three months of voluntary service; this was more than six years before as-Sayed entered the Strip.
It should also be noted that according to their IDF registries, both were exempt from their military duties due to their mental conditions.
The Independent Arabia report did very little to disguise its writer’s seeming endorsement of Hamas messaging.
What’s more interesting is what items such as this one, and many more reported by CAMERA Arabic over the course of two years, indicate about the model of outlet ownership practiced in Independent Arabia and Sky News Arabia. After all, both are Arabic-speaking media outlets which operate as a joint venture, co-owned by a UK based outlet (Independent, Sky News respectively) and a Gulf media company with ties to its local government (Saudi group SRMG, Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation respectively).
Research and writing by CAMERA Arabic. Edited by UK Media Watch.