It began with "Israel's bogus case for bombing Gaza." But the Israeli military kept up its war of disinformation over the weekend. The military’s official Twitter account @IDFSpokesperson contributed to the creation of a false narrative by tweeting a dated video of rocket fire and reporting a fake statistic on civilian casualties.
@IDFSpokesperson and @AvitalLeibovich, head of military communications, both tweeted the above video of rockets fired from Gaza. However, as pointed out by @ANimer, the video is from October 2011, not last weekend. And even as the IDF was sharing this video as representative of the current rocket fire, it is wildly, hypocritically tweeting about pro-Palestinian activists sharing a dated photo. The image is of a child killed in 2006 (warning the photograph is graphic), a death inaccurately attributed to this weekend.
Criticism of the IDF’s double standard for accuracy then spilled over from the Twitter sphere to mainstream media. Despite the glaring parallels, the IDF does not acknowledge it knowingly misled the public. Defending the video to the Jerusalem Post, Leibovich said, "launching a rocket does not differ whether it happened in November, July or now," continuing, "I never claimed that the events took place in the last few days."
The video of rocket fire demonstrates the IDF does not hold itself to the same standard of accuracy it prescribes for others.
Additionally, @IDFSpokesperson also provides daily lists of the number of Israelis within rocket range, the number of rockets fired into Israel and the number of rockets intercepted by its Iron Dome defense system. Yet the military never mentions the number of Palestinian deaths, or the number of projectiles fired by Israel into Gaza.
About a month ago, Yousef Munayyer noticed this pattern on the IDF's blog. Munayyer then contacted @AvitalLeibovich, and the communications director responded but evaded the question. Instead, Leibovich directed Munayyer to information on rockets launched from Gaza into Israel. Take a look at their conversation:
Last weekend, the only time Israeli social media recounted something entering Gaza from Israel, it was humanitarian aid, not bombs. The military said "4,862 tons of goods and gas (including 190 tons of fruit) entered Gaza from Israel." Based on first hand accounts from Palestinians in Gaza, Israeli bombs dropped around the clock over the weekend, leaving a reported 25 dead. Yet, according to @IDFSpokesperson only fruit entered Gaza.
Though the IDF did not comment directly on the death toll, the military’s blog took great care to describe Israel's surgical accuracy in taking the lives of others. The blog said Israel’s "civilian-to-terrorist death ratio is the lowest in the world," reporting a 1:30 rate since 2008. This ratio is incorrect. If it were applied to the 2008-09 Israeli assault on Gaza, there would have only been around 40 civilian deaths, not around 1,100 as reported by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Even the Israeli military's own records show a ratio higher than 1:30; they say the military killed 300 civilians. Furthermore, if the ratio had been in effect last weekend, there would not have been even one civilian casualty.
For more disinformation from the IDF and pro-Israel tweeps, see #IsraelUnderFire.