Alleged photos of IDF fighters that took part in botched mission
Yossi Yehoshua

Hamas and Israel move to psychological warfare

Analysis: The Gaza rulers are making impressive use of the media to take control of the narrative, while the IDF censor is fighting Hamas efforts to spread more and more information allegedly tied to the botched mission in Gaza 2 weeks ago.

Hamas released new information last week about the botched IDF Special Forces mission in Gaza—which was discovered by the Palestinians and led to a fire exchange that ended in the death of Lt. Col. M. —prompting the IDF censor to release an unusual statement urging the Israeli media not to disseminate any details about the November 11 incident.



Even though most of Hamas's actions in this incident are already known to the Israeli public, the Israeli media is limited in reporting it, let alone analyze what had happened.


But it appears Hamas is well prepared for psychological warfare. In the recent rounds of fighting with Israel, Hamas has shown an impressive use of the media: by documenting almost every terror cell infiltration to Israel as well as filming— in high-quality and from several different angles—the Cornet missile that was fired at an Israeli bus.


Alleged photos of IDF fighters that took part in botched mission
Alleged photos of IDF fighters that took part in botched mission

The Israeli conclusions from the recent rounds of fighting recognize the importance of psychological warfare. And the IDF is not the only one to blame. The political leadership and its problematic—and at times contradictory—messages to Hamas carry a significant weight. In some cases, Israel's own psychological warfare backfired and unintentionally affected Israeli citizens rather than its intended target, the Gazans.


The IDF invests a fairly negligent sum of some NIS 20 million a year in psychological warfare. The new IDF chief already has a recommendation waiting on his desk to double the sum next year.


Some compared the failure of this operation to the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, which was attributed to the Mossad, leading to the fast and erroneous conclusion that such operations can no longer be done in the age of technology and mass communications. But fear not: James Bond-style operations won't be limited to movies. They've happened since Mabhouh's assassination (just with the necessary precautions) at larger scales and without being exposed.


Alleged photos of IDF fighters that took part in botched mission
Alleged photos of IDF fighters that took part in botched mission


The issue is how to improve and better hide the soldiers' presence on social media, and how much that is really feasible. In this day and age, it's hard to believe the unusual message from the IDF censor could stop the deluge of information. It could reduce the damage, but little more than that. Incidentally, the IDF censor knew more information was bound to leak out and prepared their statement days in advance.


Now the IDF censor is under attack, as if its statement only fueled the public's curiosity. On the other hand, if the IDF censor hadn't released such a message, it would've been criticized as well.


As of this weekend, the IDF believes Israelis have shown great responsibility and complied in not spreading the photos.


Conversely, the details being released are not necessarily from Gaza and not necessarily true. Hamas is still trying to gather a lot of information coming from civilians on social media in an effort to connect the dots and get a clearer picture of what happened.


Alleged photos of vehicles used in botched mission
Alleged photos of vehicles used in botched mission


Over the weekend, Hamas was looking for a truck it believes was used by the IDF force or its collaborators in the operation. The terror group's military wing believes the truck is still in the strip and that finding it could help shed new light on the Israeli mission.


Hamas believes the Israeli force was sent to plant listening devices on internal communication networks used by the military wings of the Palestinian factions in the strip. The terror organization also believes this operation was one of a series of incursions done over a long period of time, and not a one-off mission.


Meanwhile, it appears Israel has been able to hide quite a lot of the details.


Elior Levy and Daniel Salami contributed to this article.


פרסום ראשון: 11.25.18, 10:11
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