It is disappointing to see how Israeli lies and false propaganda have spread in African media.
These lies attempt to justify Israel’s genocide against the people of Gaza, which has horrified the world for its brutality.
They repeat nonsensical and discredited allegations against Hamas that our liberation fighters beheaded babies, raped women, ripped from their mothers’ wombs, and burned babies in ovens. All of these lies were quickly retracted by those alleging them. The US president publicly stated the beheaded babies lie, and the White House clarified within hours that it wasn’t true, as did the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
Before responding to some of these fabrications, I want to remind readers of the state these men are defending.
Israeli scholars such as Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe, and Palestinian scholars such as Salman Abu Sitta and Saleh Abdel Jawad, provide an excellent history of Israeli massacres against Palestinians in the period immediately after Israel’s establishment on our land, about which the indigenous Palestinians were never consulted. They show that 540 Palestinian villages and towns were depopulated and destroyed. This includes the village of Najd, on which Israelis built Sderot, and Ashqalan, on which they built Ashkelon. Both are mere kilometres from Gaza, and the refugees from these villages live in Gaza.
Historians list up to 70 such massacres in 1948, with thousands of Palestinians being murdered. The most infamous were the massacres at Tantura and Deir Yassin. The reason that Israeli propagandists talk about babies being burnt in ovens and pregnant women’s bellies being ripped open is because these incidents did happen – in Deir Yassin in 1948. The babies and women were Palestinian, murdered by Israeli soldiers. TV documentaries now feature ex-soldiers talking about these incidents, laughing about how they had raped Palestinian women.
This, however, is not Hamas’s tradition.
We are fighting for our liberation from an occupying, colonial and apartheid power. For the 7 October operation, our fighters were instructed not to target civilians, particularly children, the elderly and women. The Israeli army released a list of names of Israelis killed on 7 October. It shows that the majority of those killed were soldiers, not civilians.
Civilians were killed during that operation. A number of them killed in their homes by shelling from Israeli tanks – as recent evidence proves. Many others, such as the young people at the party, were killed either in cross-fire when party security opened fire at our fighters, or from the air by Israeli helicopters, as IDF footage shows. Civilians who might have been killed by our resistance fighters were not targeted, but caught in that crossfire. There were no rapes and no baby decapitations.
Such acts violate the laws of war, and our Islamic and traditional Arab values.
Artillery remnants in Kibbutz Be’eri are from Israeli munitions, of a kind that our fighters do not possess. One kibbutz resident told Israeli media that when the Israeli army took over the kibbutz on 9 October, they destroyed homes and killed at least 112 residents. Only the heavy munitions of the Israeli army could have destroyed residential homes in this way.
Another Kibbutz Be’eri survivor, Yasmin Porat, told an Israeli radio station that Israeli forces “eliminated everyone, including the hostages” and that “there was very, very heavy crossfire” and tank shelling. Only Israelis used tanks, not us.
Hamas fighters engaged primarily with soldiers, and are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of occupation soldiers. This is legitimate; international law grants occupied and colonised people the inalienable right to resist and fight against “colonial domination and alien occupation” by all available means, including armed struggle. After eight decades under occupation and colonisation, resistance remains our right.
Even captives we took on 7 October – those released on the same day and those released days later – testified that our fighters treated them well. One, an elderly Israeli woman, Yocheved Lifshitz, as she was led away by Red Cross staff, turned back to squeeze the hand of a Hamas resistance fighter and said “Shalom”. She told Israeli media: “They were very friendly toward us. They took care of us. We were given medicine…They were very concerned about us.”
By contrast, Israel’s attack on Gaza over five weeks has deliberately targeted churches; mosques; hospitals; UN schools, clinics and shelters; residential buildings; thus violating the rules of war and committing war crimes on a grand scale. Israel murdered more children in Gaza in four weeks than those killed in all wars in the world in the past year – including in Ukraine. We are not the savages; they are.
Israel’s war is not about freeing captives; it is genocide – as many of their politicians openly confirmed.
Why are they repeatedly rejecting our offers to, firstly, release all civilian captives if they cease fire, and secondly, release all military captives in exchange for Palestinian political prisoners in their jails – some for decades. Around 7,000 of our people – mostly civilians – are hostages of Israel. We will immediately release all their captives if they agree to release ours. But they refuse!
Our people in Gaza, two-thirds of whom are refugees from 1948, have lived under a siege for 17 years! Israel retains absolute control over the movement of people and goods through their airspace, territorial waters, and land borders. Israel determines how much food will enter, and when; how much water, building materials, children’s toys. The blockade is collective punishment, illegal under international law.
Confronted with such oppression and the world’s silence in the face of war-crimes, our people will resist.
Like Africa’s colonisers and the apartheid South African government, Israel justifies decades of state terrorism by demonising legitimate resistance. Hamas is not the cause of violence and terror; it was established only in 1987. Israel has been massacring Palestinians, stealing our land, demolishing our homes, using military rule against us since 1948, decades before Hamas.
Read also: Hamas frees two Israeli women
We will continue resisting, the occupation will end, and we will achieve our liberation.
Saber is the Director of the East, Central and Southern African regions in the International Relations Office at Hamas.