As Israel prepares for the outbreak of a new wave of confrontations with the Palestinians, it is also getting ready to face relentless efforts on social media to push for the continuation of resistance and confrontation of the occupation. Events in the last weeks of Ramadan led Israeli occupation forces to arrest more than one hundred Palestinian youth and media activists and file dozens of charges against them.
Israeli police formed a security unit during Ramadan in 2022 as one of the lessons learned from the Dignity uprising of Ramadan 2021, allegedly to face Palestinian incitement on social media. Recently, the police have concluded intensive operations against what they describe as Palestinian incitement online and efforts related to the battle of the narratives regarding security incidents taking place in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The motive for forming this unit came after the shooting attacks in occupied Jerusalem and the evictions of worshippers from Al-Aqsa Mosque, which led to the fall of Palestinian rockets on Jerusalem and all these events were accompanied by a lot of news reporting. Israel did not know how to deal with the information published by Hamas, which prompted the formation of a committee to manage information. The committee consists of the police, the army, Shin Bet and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the pretext of imposing security and acting quickly against hostile news.
The security unit monitors social media outlets and pursues uploaded video clips, especially those marked “Al-Aqsa is in Danger.” It is also responsible for promoting Israeli claims of allowing worshippers to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque and guaranteeing freedom of worship, claiming it is taking place as usual. These claims are posted on all media outlets, so the unit is surveying and investigating all news of live events as they are aired.On the other hand, Palestinian activists praise resistance fighters on social media by liking, sharing and commenting on posts about them. The Israeli judiciary system has realised how serious this is and started imposing severe penalties, including thousands of shekels in fines and threats of deporting “perpetrators” and their families from the holy city. During Ramadan, more than 150 activists were monitored, 100 were identified as suspects and 36 indictments were issued.
Israel is frustrated by the work of media and propaganda leaders in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli security keeps arresting and indicting them, but their work has had a very big impact, merely through using their keyboards. Despite the Israeli and international media’s propaganda efforts to falsify the truth, reality always finds its way and spreads on social media platforms.
TikTok, Facebook and Instagram are the only places that reveal what’s going on at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israelis confess that Palestinian protests at Al-Aqsa and the occupation’s inability to confront them cause its security and military forums to be annoyed at what the Palestinians have achieved in the ongoing confrontation against the occupation. While the occupation is trying to deal with it all, the Palestinians are celebrating victory after mobilising the Jerusalemites to raise Palestinian flags at Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock.
Successive Israeli military and security failures are followed by failure of their propaganda and media apparatuses, especially considering accusations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he despises media and propaganda institutions and that he fails to get his public diplomatic messages across. It’s come to the point of acknowledging that the world no longer believes the Israeli narrative and that it has become like a broken clock that strikes twice a day.
It is no longer a secret that Israeli propaganda jumps from one crisis to another, takes a long breath, waits for the next failure, and fails again. Propaganda and public diplomacy are central and essential elements in decision-making, not marginal matters. They help create a critical mass of public opinion based on which bodies and international governments form their stances towards Israel. Israel is currently portrayed in the world as weak, divided and preoccupied with its internal affairs, and above all, it is rapidly deteriorating and becoming a dictatorial regime. Therefore, recently, Israel has lost much of the legitimacy it used to enjoy as an aggressive state.
The work of the Israeli media in such a difficult atmosphere is costly, considering what Israel is facing regarding the destruction of its international relations. Israel is failing to finance its propaganda steps without external support. This is due to the international belief that everything that happened in the first hundred days of the government’s life is frightening, and this media failure joins other security, economic and social failures that befell the Israelis.
It seems remarkable that, in conjunction with the Israeli acknowledgement of the propaganda failure, more Israeli calls have been made to use the Arabic language to address the Arab public. There have also been calls to promote the Israeli narrative about the crimes Israel is committing against the Palestinian people, claiming that the lack of a plan to reach the Arab public will give more room for Palestinian-Arab propaganda that harms the interests of Israel.
An essential cause of Israeli frustration is that the role of media has become more important in the world of social networks, becoming a major source of information and public influence. With more users, the spread of information has increased, which requires Israel not to abandon the media arena or leave it to its enemies who fight it through media platforms, thus enhancing the dark image of Israel in the Arab and Western worlds. All this adds to the multiple regional and global challenges Israel is facing, including Iranian nuclear threats, Palestinian operations and the volatile situation at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel faces several media challenges with its Arabic-language discourse, the most important of which are linguistic and cultural barriers, hostile media coverage and effective propaganda campaigns, which affect Israeli and international audiences, especially during wars. Media has become a front that is no less important than the electronic front and air warfare.
This remarkable Israeli call reveals that the Palestinian counter-propaganda is bearing fruit, and perhaps it is time for Israeli decision-makers to understand that propaganda plays a major role in the conflict with the Palestinians. These results disturb Israel, which continues to embrace the illusion that only F-16 fighter jets can decide the fate of a battle, because, in the era of communication networks, every mobile phone has become a radio station, and it’s clear that Israel is losing in this regard.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.