Russia, China, and Iran all support Hamas

The Hamas War: Online Propaganda and Extremism in the Middle East, Iran, Russia and China Boosted by Social Media

Officials and experts who track disinformation and extremism have been struck by how quickly and extensively Hamas’s message has spread online. That feat was almost certainly fueled by the emotional intensity of the Israeli-Palestinian issue and by the graphic images of the violence, captured virtually in real time with cameras carried by Hamas gunmen. It was also boosted by extensive networks of bots and, soon afterward, official accounts belonging to governments and state media in Iran, Russia and China — amplified by social media platforms.

The deluge of online propaganda and disinformation is larger than anything seen before, according to government officials and independent researchers — a reflection of the world’s geopolitical division.

“It is being seen by millions, hundreds of millions of people around the world,” said Rafi Mendelsohn, vice president at Cyabra, a social media intelligence company in Tel Aviv, “and it’s impacting the war in a way that is probably just as effective as any other tactic on the ground.” Cyabra has documented at least 40,000 bots or inauthentic accounts online since Hamas attacked Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7.

Fears that thecontent could inflame a wider conflict have been raised, as it has vitiated anger and even violence far beyond Gaza. Iran’s foreign minister, who denied any role in the Hamas attack, warned of repercussions if the Israelis persisted in Gaza.

According to the executive director for Africa, the Middle East and Asia at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, everyone is involved. Iran, Russia and China were detailed in influence campaigns last week by the institute.

A statement by the Iranian president calling the explosion of Al- Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza a “Israeli war crime” was reposted by the Spanish arm of the Russian television network.

Sputnik India quoted a “military expert” who said that the US provided the bomb that destroyed the hospital. These posts have attracted tens of thousands of views.

“We’re in an undeclared information war with authoritarian countries,” James P. Rubin, the head of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, said in a recent interview.

A profile on X that bore the characteristics of an inauthentic account — @RebelTaha — posted 616 times in the first two days of the conflict, though it had previously featured content mostly about cricket, they said. A cartoon claimed a double standard in how Palestinian resistance toward Israel was cast as terrorism while the Ukraine fight against Russia was self-defense.

The Israel Defense Forces’ Operation in Gaza City: A Survey of Satellite Images, Social Media Posts, and a Communication with the Military Experts

Israeli forces appear to be at the edge of Gaza City along three axes: two from the north, which are pushing down toward the city itself, and one from the southeast that has moved across the entire Gaza Strip.

Based on the satellite imagery, the Israelis probably have a brigade consisting of several thousand troops operating in the northwest part of the city alone, says Sean MacFarland, a retired three-star general in the U.S. Army who conducted operations against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

“They’re pushing in with ground forces, but they don’t seem to be in possession of territory or setting up checkpoint,” said Jones who oversees the International Security Program.

But even if the other two axes also contain about a brigade, that wouldn’t be nearly enough to fully occupy or even conduct a building-by-building sweep of a dense, urban environment like Gaza City, says Gentile.

“What they may choose to do instead is control the city from the outskirts and conduct operations inside,” he says. They might be able to destroy the Hamas tunnels without committing to a full occupation.

NPR examined available satellite images, as well as social media posts from both bystanders and the Israel Defense Forces. Based on the images and conversations with military experts, here’s what we know about the operation so far.

According to a piece of satellite imagery taken on October 31, there are roughly two-dozen Israeli armored vehicles near the road.

Despite these worries, Israel appears to be using a great deal of heavy weaponry in its fight, some of which appears to be older, non-precision bombs, Garlasco says. There is a risk of civilian casualties in a densely populated area such as Gaza City.

On Oct. 31, Israeli fighter jets conducted a massive airstrike on a section of the Jabalia refugee camp just north of Gaza City. According to the Israel Defense Forces, the strike was conducted with intelligence gathered by Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.

The Israeli military said dozens of Hamas fighters were killed, along with a senior Hamas commander. Many injured people were seen in photos from the site that showed a huge crater, with a collapsed tunnel underneath it. The health ministry in Gaza says that over 200 people died and 120 are still missing.

The incident underscores a dangerous new phase in operations, says Marc Garlasco, a former Pentagon intelligence officer who now works for Pax, a Dutch nonprofit working to protect civilians against acts of war. In the opening weeks of the war Israel conducted strikes on predetermined targets. They’re hitting at targets quickly with little warning and no warnings for civilians.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza may ultimately be what limits Israel’s ability to reach its goals, says Plitsas. Through another group, Special Operations Association of America, he just helped get a number of NGO workers out of Gaza and the stories they told him were harrowing:

He says Israel does not have an unlimited right to defend itself. They must target military objects and not civilians, he says, and they must also operate under the principle of proportionality. “Any military gain can’t be taken away from civilians by an attack,” he says.

In a statement Wednesday, the United Nations’ human rights office appeared to echo those concerns, warning that strikes on the Jabalia camp “could amount to war crimes.”

Source: [Satellites and social media]( offer hints about Israel’s ground war strategy in Gaza

The Urban Warfare Mission in Iraq — a Battle for Israel, Hamas, and the Vaccines on the Lives of a Soldier

Gentile, a member of the urban warfare team in Iraq in 2006 says that those numbers will grow. That’s in part because both Israel and Hamas view this as an existential battle.

“They were treating burns with saline and iodine only. There’s no post-wound care, no antibiotics, hospitals were performing surgery without anesthesia because they had no choice,” he says.

Ultimately, he says, it’s difficult to imagine that Israel will be able to maintain broader international support unless it can show that it is trying to help civilians and minimize casualties.

He says the humanitarian conditions on the ground are an issue for the operation. “That needs to get addressed, and addressed very, very quickly.”

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