The Palestinian Media

On the Other Side: What is Shown in the Palestinian Media

It's hard to believe that we will soon hear public criticism from Gaza against Hamas, even if an Israeli operation turns the Strip into a pile of rubble. Hamas and media networks will ensure that the images are framed accordingly.

(Photo: Abad Al Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Media channels and narratives sustain a somewhat reciprocal relationship and influence each other. The narrative presented in the media sets the agenda and shapes the images that will be seared into the public's memory. In the Palestinian arena, viewers of Arab and local Palestinian news channels receive a framed image that emphasizes Hamas's operational achievements, with an emphasis on the scope of the captives intended to serve as bargaining chips alongside the deepening crisis in the Gaza Strip.

In Arab and Palestinian news channels, the primary focus is on reporting the results of Israeli attacks in the Strip. They broadcast images of children, women, and non-combatants who have been killed so far in the airstrikes by the Israeli Air Force. Additionally, the Palestinian media emphasizes the Israeli blockade imposed on the Strip, the lack of electricity and water, Palestinians killed in clashes with our forces in Judea and Samaria, and the absence of Arab support, which is expressed, among other things, in the closure of the Rafah border crossing under Egypt's control, restricting access for Gazans.

At this stage, the Palestinian internal discourse is mainly nationalistic. Pro-Hamas demonstrations, with thousands of participants, took place yesterday in the central areas of Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria, leaving little room for other discussions. The Palestinian mechanisms, which were already entering this conflict from a position of weakness, hesitate to confront Hamas demonstrations and be seen as cooperating with the Israeli narrative. At this point, many Palestinians who rely on the Israeli economy and its stability are trying to maintain relative calm. This includes the Palestinian Authority leadership and the Fatah. For them, it is not the right time to criticize Hamas or lament the loss of income, even if it means significant economic hardship.

The public expectations of the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria from the leadership of the Palestinian Authority are low

Another note relates to Hamas protests in Judea and Samaria: While thousands of participants were involved, there is a distinct and significant difference between the various demonstrations. Mass protests by the public that express support for Hamas and end with only a few participants throwing stones at the IDF forces primarily show public solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and express support for Hamas's achievements. This is different from demonstrations in which armed individuals march against the Palestinian Authority and the IDF in Judea and Samaria. The general protesters are not Israeli sympathizers, but the dynamics in each protest are different, and the message conveyed to the Palestinian public is also distinct.

The expectations of the Palestinian public in the West Bank from the leadership of the Palestinian Authority are low. The public understands that this is a weak leadership with very limited influence over events. In Gaza, the situation is much more complex. Hamas is in control, and its operation on October 7 was viewed as a success; terrible, and menacing from the Israeli perspective. Its leadership, in all likelihood, did not anticipate such an outcome, even in their most optimal scenario.

The images of joy were replaced by images of destruction and corpses

The Palestinian celebrations and emotional outbursts on Saturday stemmed from the operational success, from a Gaza perspective, and the possibility of releasing Hamas prisoners. The days that have passed since then revealed the depth of pain and anger in Israel, the approach of a ground operation, and the diminishing possibility of a prisoner exchange deal. The images of joy among Gaza residents on the day of the operation, repeatedly broadcast on television screens, were replaced by images of destruction in the Rimal neighborhood and bodies covered in dust in Shejaiya and Dir al-Balah.

It's hard to believe that we will hear public criticism from Gaza in the near future against Hamas, even if an Israeli operation turns Gaza into a heap of ruins. Hamas and the media networks will ensure that the images are framed accordingly. Perhaps, in the future, we may hear criticism from Gazans on social media against Hamas, which I have not encountered in recent days. Those who voice such criticism will be careful to keep themselves out of danger before they speak out.


Roy Amsalem, Ph.D, from the Academic College Ashkelon, is a lecturer in the field of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a former advisor on Palestinian affairs in the civil administration.


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