Malice, Ridicule, Anti-Ukrainian Fakes: Russian Propaganda on HAMAS Attacking Israel

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On the morning of October 7, the Palestinian movement HAMAS launched a massive missile attack on Israel. Armed militant groups infiltrated seven Israeli communities on the border with the Gaza Strip. The attack was accompanied by killings and torture of prisoners of war and civilian hostages: photo and video evidence of militants’ crimes were published on social networks. 

The Israeli government declared martial law and mobilized reservists, and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) launched Operation Iron Swords. Aviation began bombing HAMAS facilities in the Gaza Strip.

EU states, the United Kingdom, and the United States condemned the attack on Israel. Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin stressed that the United States recognized Israel’s right to self-defence and would provide everything necessary to protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism. 

Ukraine also supported Israel. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed that Israel’s right to self-defence was beyond doubt. He also expressed confidence that order would be restored, and the terrorists would be destroyed.

The attack on Israel was openly endorsed by Iran and Syria. Russia, as well as Turkey and Egypt, called on the parties to the conflict to cease fire and start negotiations. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova directly accused Israel and the West of provoking an escalation, calling it “a consequence of systematic non-compliance with UN and its Security Council resolutions.”

Russian senior officials and propagandists cannot help but gloat over the escalation in the Middle East. 

The head of the Russian Security Council, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, called the HAMAS attack on Israel “expected” and blamed the United States for this. The official was openly joyful about the fact that the United States and its key ally in the Middle East had problems and made it clear that he considered them a retribution for American support for Ukraine in its confrontation with Russia.

Medvedev noted that the attack on Israel was timed to the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. The same assumption was made by Federation Council Speaker Konstantin Kosachev.

The propaganda media of Russia actively cover the hostilities in Israel, accompanying them with evaluative judgments to manipulate the audience. Notably, the main Russian foreign broadcasting channel RT calls HAMAS militants “fighters,” raising their status and legitimizing their actions.

Among the key messages promoted by Russian propaganda, the following can be distinguished:

  • gloating over the losses of the Israeli army, mockery of the deaths of Israelis and the escape of civilians from their own homes;
  • accusing the United States and Israel of “provoking an escalation of the conflict”;
  • ridicule of Russian political migrants who moved to Israel because they did not support Russian aggression against Ukraine;
  • predictions about the weakening of Western, in particular American, military assistance to Ukraine because of the need to “save Israel.”

At the same time, propaganda is trying to provoke anti-Ukrainian sentiments in Israel by spreading fakes in the information field about the alleged links between the Ukrainian government and HAMAS:

  • drone operators for HAMAS were trained in Ukraine;
  • the weapons that Ukraine received from its Western partners ended up in Palestine and are used against Israel;
  • president Zelenskyy asked HAMAS for a captured Israeli Merkava tank.   

Such statements look especially cynical given the fact that official Kyiv, unlike Moscow, has never maintained any contacts with HAMAS and other Islamist movements that aim to destroy the State of Israel. HAMAS leaders have regularly visited Moscow since 2006, and federal media have held complimentary interviews with them. In 2010, then-Russian President Medvedev met with the head of the HAMAS political bureau, Khaled Mashal. In September 2022, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Mashal’s successor Ismail Khania. Two years earlier, Lavrov held talks with the leader of the Islamic Jihad, Ziyad Al-Nakhalah, in Moscow. HAMAS, as well as Islamic Jihad, are recognized as terrorist organizations in Israel, the United States, and the EU.

Ukrainians, like Israelis, have neighbours who do not recognize their right to have a state and live on their own land. Russia supports autocratic regimes, extremists, terrorists, trying to destroy democracy and the world order with their help. Only by uniting can the civilized world effectively confront the enemies of freedom and democracy.

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