The Battle for Hearts and Minds The Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip is collecting “evidence” for a future prosecution of Israeli public figures for so-called “war crimes”

1. As soon as Operation Cast Lead ended, Ismail Haniya, prime minister of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, called for international teams to investigate the so-called "war crimes” carried out by Israel . He also demanded that the Israeli leadership (what he calls "the occupation leadership”) be tried in an international court (Al-Jazeera TV, January 18, 2009 ). These tactics are used to strengthen Hamas’s defamatory allegations that Israel acted solely against civilians and to represent the IDF operation as a "holocaust” for the Gazans. 1

2. As part of Hamas’s propaganda campaign, Ismail Haniya appointed an ad hoc committee to document the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip to provide a foundation for attempts to prosecute Israel for "Zionist war crimes.” The committee’s "source of authority” will be Hamas activist Faraj al-Ghoul (chairman of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council). It will be headed by Dhiaa al-Din Madhoun , also known as a Hamas activist. The committee chairman announced that teams including "jurists and investigators” had been set up with 160 members spread, out through the Gaza Strip to "document Israel ‘s crimes,” and would begin work on January 24 (PalMedia website, Gaza , January 26, 2009 ).

3. The objective of Hamas’s "documentation activity” is to attack and defame Israel and represent it as harming civilians, ignoring and even hiding the military infrastructure it established in densely-populated civilian centers. Since the documentation will not have an objective, truthful foundation, it will be nothing more than blatant propaganda and the manipulation of public opinion to defame Israel . In addition, Ismail Haniya, Hamas activists and the countries supporting them make no mention of the indiscriminate rocket fire used to attack Israeli population centers and the use made by Hamas of the civilian population as human shields for its military-terrorist operatives, both of which are considered war crimes . Thus the perpetrators of war crimes themselves and their supporters are currently engaged in gathering evidence against Israel , the victim of continuous rocket and mortar shell fire, to charge it with "war crimes”…

4. Hamas’s activity is liable to be supported by Arab countries and the anti-Israeli elements in the Middle East and abroad which are always eager to jump on the anti-Israel bandwagon. For example, Ahmed Abu Ghait , the Egyptian foreign minister, left for Brussels to present the Egyptian initiative for resolving the crisis in the Gaza Strip. On arriving, he stated that Egyptian strongly supported the Palestinian effort to bring the Gazan cause before the International Court of Justice. He added that Egypt was one of the main countries behind proposing the idea at UN Security Council meetings (Middle East News Agency and the Ilaf website, January 26, 2009 ). To provide Hamas with media support, Al-Jazeera TV reinforced the number of its correspondents in the Gaza Strip (as did Lebanon and Jordan) to show the destruction and harm brought to the civilian population during the fighting (completely disregarding everything Hamas views as unsuitable to its propaganda: locating its military-terrorist infrastructure within densely populated civilian areas, the damage done to its military-terrorist infrastructure, and disregarding the damage suffered by Israeli population centers as a result of rocket and mortar shell fire).

For further information the Hamas defamation campaign, see our January 20, 2009 Bulletin entitled "The battle for hearts and minds” at .