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Israel's reliance on forgery and violence is rooted in its history

Louay Kuhail and Amir Al-Nimra were taking a selfie on the roof of a building in Gaza City when they were bombed to death, without warning, in an Israeli airstrike

January 26, 2019 at 1:24 pm

A recent investigation by a group of experts showed conclusive evidence that Israel doctored one of its propaganda videos from Gaza. Two Palestinian teenagers were minding their own business in July 2018, taking a selfie on a roof in Gaza City, when they were bombed to death by Israel.

Israel’s online propaganda accounts then promoted a video that it is now clear was actively fabricated and doctored. This was by no means the first time Israel has fabricated “evidence” of its supposed benevolence. In many ways, the state of Israel itself is founded on fabrication.

The first fabrication was the idea that Palestine was empty of any population, a “desert” which should be handed over to the Zionist movement for colonisation. The slogan – first adopted by Christian Zionists and later by Jewish Zionists – was “a land without a people, for a people without a land,” meaning Palestine is empty so should be handed over to the Jews, who had no land of their own anyway.

This idea was based on two-fold racism. Firstly, racism against the indigenous Palestinian inhabitants, who were in fact very much present. Mythology aside, the land of Palestine was never empty. This was a type of racism quite typical of colonialism’s arrogant and violent attitude towards native peoples.

Secondly, it was an idea based on racism against Jewish communities: anti-Semitism. The slogan reflects the racist idea that the Jews of England, France and America did not really “belong” to their countries of birth and instead should be deported to “the Orient” where, mythology had it, they “really” came from anyway.

These violent and racist mythologies should be utterly rejected by anyone of good will with a modicum of human decency. Palestine was never “a land without a people” and Jewish people are no aliens to Europe who need to leave to some mythical “homeland”.

As false as the very basis of this slogan has always been, it nevertheless was the foundation of the Zionist movement from its very start in the late nineteenth century. Imposing erasure on the native Palestinian population, as it did all along, was an inevitable formula for the onset of Palestinian resistance to Zionism, by any means necessary.

In his seminal book Expulsion of the Palestinians, Palestinian scholar Nur Masalha writes of that infamous Zionist slogan that it was not intended as a literal demographic assessment: Zionists “did not mean that there were no people in Palestine, but that there were no people worth considering within the framework of the notions of European supremacy that then held sway”.

Read: Palestinian killed by Israeli airstrike in eastern Gaza

This racist attitude was common in every colonial movement, whether initiated by the French Empire, the British Empire or by settler-colonial movements with no single imperial metropole – such as those in southern Africa which would lead to the imposition of white supremacist and Apartheid regimes.

These are the true origins of the modern day Zionist movement, all lies about the “progressive case for Israel” aside. The inevitable result was that a state founded by a movement based on lies and violence would be born of terror and ethnic cleansing.

More than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled at the barrel of Zionism’s gun in 1948. This Nakba or catastrophe has never ended, as Palestinians continue to be slowly expelled by Israel until this very day.

It is no surprise, then, to find that a state founded by violence and lies needs to habitually fabricate and doctor evidence to sustain its propaganda in the modern world. A sophisticated joint investigation by a London-based group of experts, Forensic Architecture, and Israeli human rights group B’Tselem shows one of the latest examples of this.

The impressive evidence they amass shows definitively that Israel doctored one of its own videos in order to hide the truth – that they bombed to death two 14-year-old Palestinian boys in July last year. Louay Kuhail and Amir Al-Nimra were taking a selfie on the roof of a building in Gaza City when they were bombed to death, without warning, in an Israeli airstrike.

Using an impressive array of video sources, sophisticated computer modelling and expert weapons analysis, the Forensic Architecture video convincingly shows that Israel was behind their deaths – likely done deliberately and at minimum done recklessly.

The propaganda video that the Israeli military released at the time claimed that the building was hit by four “non-lethal” warning shots before being bombed to the ground. However, Forensic Architecture proves that, in fact, the so-called “roof-knock warning shot” that killed them was actually a shrapnel-filled bomb, designed deliberately to maximise human casualties, and that the two boys were killed by the very first of the four “warning” bombs.

The video also proves that the Israeli propaganda video released on Twitter and elsewhere was very deliberately doctored to remove any evidence of the two boys’ presence on the roof. It is highly likely that the original footage – removed from the released video – showed the two boys sitting there on top of the roof. Israel is therefore – once again – guilty of cold, calculated murder of Palestinian children.

As the Forensic Architecture and B’Tselem video concludes: “This case illustrates Israel’s disregard for both civilian lives and the truth”.

Read: UN: 254 Palestinians killed, 23,000 injured in Gaza protests

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.