Stop Spreading Hamas's Lies | Opinion

Hamas is outrageously using false claims to instigate a terror war against Israel, replete with an unprecedented volume of rocket attacks directed at Israeli civilians.

Unfortunately, some in the international news media and even in the diplomatic community are, perhaps unwittingly, promoting Hamas's narrative and misleadingly painting Israel as the aggressor.

The explosion of violence in recent days is not about a real estate dispute in Jerusalem nor recycled, mythical Israeli threats to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The escalation is rooted in a decision by Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas to unilaterally cancel next month's parliamentary elections in which Hamas was expected to do quite well. Abbas's decision, which he conveniently blamed on Israel, also likely postpones his own presidential election, tentatively scheduled for July.

Instead of acquiescing, Hamas is attempting to set the Palestinian arena ablaze, using lies to incite anti-Israel riots and launching a rocket war targeting the Jewish state. Hamas aims to solidify its own domestic position ahead of any election and to present itself as the savior of the Palestinian cause.

The PA, for its part, does not mind the change of subject from the election cancellations. It has failed to hold any vote for a decade and a half, removing even the pretense of being a democratic entity.

One lie being promulgated is that the violence is a popular reaction to a legal dispute that could result in the eviction of dozens of Palestinians living in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, next to a popular Jewish holy site. Hamas and the PA went into overdrive inciting hostility against Israel over the matter.

Never mind that Palestinians were housed there by Jordan in the 1950s while it occupied eastern Jerusalem, and that the neighborhood was Jewish until Jews had to flee Arab pogroms during the British mandatory government prior to Israel's 1948 War of Independence.

Let's skip over the fact that Israel's fiercely independent judiciary found in favor of the claimants on behalf of the original Jewish owners and that the case was slated to be reviewed by Israel's supreme court, also known for its independence.

Gaza Strip airstrike aftermath Israel-Palestine violence
A fire rages at sunrise in Khan Yunis following an Israeli airstrike on targets in the southern Gaza Strip, early on May 12, 2021. YOUSSEF MASSOUD/AFP via Getty Images

Pinning the escalation on the Sheikh Jarrah case legitimizes Hamas's terror tactics, as if it were somehow normal to attack Jews because of a real estate dispute. Cases such as the Sheikh Jarrah litigation occur in the Israeli court system on a regular basis, and yet only the past few days has this one suddenly led to violence? Come on.

Next, Hamas has for weeks been ginning up an Israeli threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a libel so overused it is surprising that anyone takes it seriously anymore. Israel guarantees freedom of worship for all religions—unlike any of its neighbors, the Palestinian Authority and of course Hamas.

This time, Palestinian extremists themselves went about creating the threat to Al-Aqsa by organizing riots in the area and agitating protesters to attack Israeli civilians and security forces.

Israel over the weekend briefly stopped buses at a checkpoint heading to the Temple Mount over specific intelligence that some passengers were planning violent riots. The temporary stoppage was predictably used by propagandists as further evidence of Israeli intentions to prevent Muslim worship. This accusation came even though large numbers of Muslims congregate at Al-Aqsa throughout the year without incident.

Headlines on Monday reported that Israeli security forces raided Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as if Israeli police woke up one morning and randomly decided to act on one of the most sensitive sites in the world. Much of the coverage minimized the fact that Israeli forces were responding to Arab rioters who had holed themselves up at the holy site with rocks and other menacing objects prepping an imminent violent riot.

The Al-Aqsa episode was used by Hamas to justify firing rockets close to Jerusalem after the terror group issued an ultimatum for Israeli forces (who were protecting Israelis and trying to quell riots) to withdraw from Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah. I heard one popular and influential British radio host scandalously ask her Israeli government interviewee why Israel didn't acquiesce to Hamas's deadline—as if Israel should have stopped protecting its citizens at the behest of a murderous jihadist organization.

Israel, for its part, tried in vain to ease tensions. It delayed the Supreme Court decision on Sheikh Jarrah. It rerouted an annual Jerusalem Day parade to avoid clashes with Arab protesters. It allowed buses to continue to Al-Aqsa even though violent protests were being planned—and indeed those protests ensued.

With its cities under sustained rocket barrage, Israel must continue to take strong military action against the Gaza terror infrastructure and restore deterrence to ensure this doesn't happen again. Diplomatic calls for "both sides" to "calm tensions" only fuel bad actors in the Palestinian arena. Such statements draw a moral equivalence between a democracy protecting itself and terror groups deliberately escalating bloodshed, targeting Israelis and using their own civilians as human shields.

To help quell this calculated Hamas terror campaign, the international community must immediately condemn the Palestinian aggression and fully support Israel's right to self-defense. And the international news media must stop promoting Hamas's transparently false pretenses that seem to legitimize the bloodshed.

Aaron Klein is senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.