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My compliments to SP Guide Publications for informative and credible reportage on contemporary aerospace issues over the past six decades.

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Israel – Blurred Lines of Perception

Beyond the headlines, carefully choreographed between fact and fiction, are the orchestrated narratives trying to shape the public opinion on Israel and Palestine

December 20, 2023 By Major General Atanu K Pattanaik (Retd) Photo(s): By X / IDF
The Author is former Chief of Staff of a frontline Corps in the North East and a former helicopter pilot. He earlier headed the China & neighbourhood desk at the Defence Intelligence Agency. He retired in July 2020 and held the appointment of Addl DG Information Systems at Army HQ.


Israel Defense Forces troops removed 2 trucks full of weapons, including Badr-3 rocket parts, UAV parts and Islamic Jihad intelligence materials, from an Islamic Jihad post.

Is Israel a victim or a villain? - so asked a doctor friend earnestly the other day. His curiosity was probably aroused by the mixed reactions across the western world. While there was immediate condemnation of the October 7, 2023 massacre of Israelis, soon the west witnessed huge and at times violent demonstrations on the streets and in universities, calling for immediate ceasefire and justice for the Palestinians.

Choreographed Narrative

Carefully choreographed images of Israeli aerial bombardment and tanks rolling in are pitched against an unarmed Palestinian civilian population bearing the brunt with their homes destroyed and hospitals overwhelmed with the dead and the injured. Hapless people are seen rummaging through concrete rubble with bare hands to pull out their dear ones, invariably babies and elderly women. Blacked out are the labyrinth of tunnels that open into schools, hospital complexes and apartment blocks, swarming with weapons, grenades and rockets. Hamas fighters are nowhere to be seen, as if they are ghosts.

Reactions across the western world to the October 7, 2023 massacre of Israelis was quickly followed by widespread demonstrations calling for a ceasefire and justice for Palestinians

These images evoke shock and disbelief. The ghastly and barbaric attack of October 7, 2023 when Hamas fighters rampaged through barely awake civilians in sleepy kibbutz or butchered and raped hundreds of youths who were in a music festival is pushed to the background. The victim of October 7 carnage is suddenly the villain. Cries of ‘From the River to the Sea… Palestine will be free’ rent the air as tens of thousands march down streets of New York, London, Berlin and Paris. The protests are not spontaneous. They are well organised and generously funded. In a sea of placards and Palestine flags, most protestors are seen wearing the black-and-white keffiyeh head scarf that has become an emblem of solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Who funds them?

Funding the Discourse

Some reports suggest that in the US, a nonprofit that has received donations from George Soros has been bankrolling groups who have hosted pro-Palestinian rallies. The nonprofit, San Francisco-based Tides Foundation, has been given over $22 million for different causes. The Tides Foundation has then given millions to liberal organisations who have all organised pro-Palestinian protests, according to the Capital Research Centre.

Carefully choreographed images depict Israeli aerial bombardment and tanks juxtaposed against unarmed Palestinian civilians, destructed homes and overwhelmed hospitals

Hamas tunnel shaft uncovered INSIDE a classroom that leads to a mosque in the heart of Shuja'iyya. Hamas’ abuse of schools has turned children’s safe havens into terrorist hideouts.

Over two months into the war, the cries for an immediate ceasefire have grown louder, even as the UNGA saw acrimonious debate over a resolution to cease hostilities and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. The US has begun nudging Israel to switch to the ‘next phase’ that envisions ‘smaller groups that would conduct more precise intelligence-driven mission to find and kill Hamas leaders.’ How nebulous such a transition that can bring down civilian casualties and destruction can be judged from the US global war on terror.

Historical Parallels

US government conducted a variety of such ‘find-fix-destroy’ missions in Afghanistan after an intense bombing campaign launched on this very day 22 years back, October 7, 2001, on Taliban and Al-Qaeda installations in Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Konduz and Mazar-e-Sharif. The Hamas choice of October 7, for its murderous attack wasn’t, after all, a random date.

Liberal organisations in the United States, funded by a nonprofit receiving donations from George Soros (Tides Foundation), have organised these pro-Palestinian protests

Inside the Al-Quds Hospital, a large amount of weaponry and ammunition were found.

“Operation Enduring Freedom” was intended to target terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. While Taliban was pushed out by early December 2001 to hide in Tora Bora caves where they were engaged by US Special Forces, Osama bin Laden and other key al-Qaeda members escaped into neighbouring Pakistan. Following a 10-year manhunt, bin Laden was finally found and killed in Pakistan by US Navy SEALS on May 2, 2011. The US was forced to exit Afghanistan under humiliating circumstances on August 15, 2021 after 20 years of war that left approximately 69,000 Afghan security forces killed, along with roughly 51,000 civilians and 51,000 militants.

Challenging False Propaganda

Recollecting these time lines and outcome is important because the so-called ‘next phase’ that can potentially save civilian lives and stop destruction of infrastructure, whatever is still left standing, shouldn’t raise expectations. It is easier said than done. How does Israel clearly separate Hamas fighters from civilians when their arms caches are found in operation theatres and children’s playrooms and tunnels open into apartment blocks, hospitals and schools? In the initial phases, when the IDF had not entered these complexes, these claims by IDF were dismissed by Hamas spokesmen as mere propaganda. The left liberal media faithfully reposes their trust in Hamas briefings. The doctors at the hospitals, the Red Cresent or the UNRWA staff never acknowledge the presence of these caches or tunnel openings.

RPGs, mortar shells, and other weapons were found by IDF troops inside a kindergarten and an elementary school in northern Gaza.

One particular incident merits citation here. On October 17, Hamas claimed that Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza City was hit by Israeli aerial bombing killing some 500 innocent civilians who had taken shelter in its compound. The most respected media houses like the BBC and New York Times splashed these as facts and the world roundly condemned Israel for its dastardly inhuman act, only to retract days later when IDF released technical evidence suggesting that it was an Islamic Jihad rocket that had misfired. All traces of the munition seemingly vanished from the site of the blast and the impact site turned out to be the hospital parking lot, and not the hospital itself.

The Elusive Goal

Fortunately, the war has not escalated so far. While the Hezbollah keeps threatening of massive punitive strikes, it merely fires rockets and mortars off and on, facing swift Israeli retribution. Iran continues to spit fire but has refused to be directly drawn into the war, instead encouraging its proxy Houthis in Yemen to sputter. The Saudi-UAE axis watches from sidelines while making high decibel noise to satisfy the restive crowds at home. They seem bidding their time hoping for the Palestine issue to vanish or at least cool off so that they can resume their ‘normalisation’ with Israel which they see as their most forceful ally against Iran’s expansionism. They also want to use Israel’s sophisticated security and surveillance platforms to police their own population and need Israel’s friendship to maintain their cordial relations with Washington to sustain their oil trade. The Abraham Accords signed in September 2020 is still work in progress, though in pause right now.

The United States is nudging Israel to transition to a 'next phase' involving smaller, more precise missions to find and kill Hamas leaders

Will Israel succeed in eliminating Hamas? That is a difficult war aim to achieve. Hamas has presence in Lebanon, Jordan and a host of other Islamic nations. Qatar and Turkey provide sanctuary to its political wing leaders. So most probably, it may morph into another frozen war with Gaza Strip turned into miniature enclaves and Israel forced to prosecute a covert targeted war personally directed against Hamas leaders, home and abroad.


Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the personal views of the author.