.חשיפה: צה”ל שיקר לתושבי הדרום לפני פרסום גילוי המנהרה, והסתיר את תפקידו של עריק החמאס בגילויה
Yesterday, I broke a gag by the Israeli military censor against reporting the discovery of a tunnel from Gaza entering Israeli territory. Today, the censor lifted the gag and the media are now permitted to report this. However, the media may not report some new information I’ve learned, which indicate a major level of obfuscation and outright lies concerning key aspects of the story.
Haaretz and other outlets, for example, report the IDF’s claim that they uncovered the tunnel through major new technological advances which enable them to detect Hamas operations they couldn’t detect earlier. This is largely untrue. Of course, the army does use such technological means. But in this case, the tunnel was discovered through one of the oldest tricks in the book of spycraft: a senior Hamas operative who defected. Israeli intelligence analyst, Avi Melamed, filed a similar report two days ago alleging the defection of a major figure in the “Hamas Tunnel Authority.”
It seems likely that the claim of technological innovation discovering the tunnel is actually a smokescreen to cover the tracks of the defector who, presumably, is no longer in Gaza.
It’s important to note that Israeli intelligence officials would like nothing more than to be able to report it had penetrated Hamas’ tunneling operation. It would be a major blow to morale. So it’s important to treat this claim with a few grains of salt. But until I hear otherwise, it seems a credible claim.
In another bit of dissembling, the IDF lied to the two Israeli settlements closest to Gaza, Kerem Shalom and Sufa, telling them that explosions they heard were from anti-terrorist activity in Sinai and that Israeli helicopters they saw overhead were engaged in training exercises. In effect, they were deflecting the public’s attention from the truth: the explosions were IDF sappers blowing up the tunnels and the helicopters were part of the anti-tunnel efforts.
There is another critical IDF admission in the reporting of this story: both the army and the defense minister have conceded for the first time that Hamas’ tunneling operations have both offensive and defensive missions. You wouldn’t know this from listening to Bibi Netanyahu or Israel Lobby mandarins like Dennis Ross. They robotically repeat the mantra that Hamas’ tunnels are designed to kill Israelis. This is not true-or rather it is largely untrue. The vast majority of Hamas tunnels are designed for fighters to protect Gaza from Israeli attack. There are some tunnels that are offensive in nature. They are designed to permit an attack on Israeli military forces inside Israeli territory (but not used against civilian targets). They are meant to be used in the event that Israel attacks Gaza (which it most certainly will). But even those forces attacked inside Israel are engaged in activities against Gaza.
What we have here is a failure of the military echelon to communicate with the political echelon. Or more likely, it indicates the Israeli military understands Hamas’ military capabilities and mission far better than Israeli (or American) leaders. It wouldn’t be the first time. But the next time Hillary pulls this meme out of her bag of pro-Israel hasbara talking points remember that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
You won’t find the above information in any Israeli newspaper or website. Nor will you find it in any foreign media site. It is original reporting exclusive to readers of Tikun Olam. Further, if you want to tell the Israeli censor–who threatened to get even with me for this reporting–to put it where the sun don’t shine, please contribute either through Paypal or Network for Good (tax-deductible). Click on the respective widgets in the sidebar.
Last week, the Israel correspondent of France’s prestigious Le Nouvel Observateur, published an article (pdf in French) about the Israeli military censorship regime. He interviewed me for the article. I thank Maya Papineau for her translation of this excerpt from the article:
Richard Silverstein is one of the privileged recipients of these leaks. This American Jew, who is…critical of Israeli politics, has specialized in publishing details of material censored by the Jewish State on his website Tikun Olam. His source?
“Journalists, of course, but also members of various security services who want to circumvent the burdensome restrictions imposed on them,” he says.
Simply mentioning his name in an article might precipitate a prohibition against publication. His case illustrates military censorship has lost the war in the digital era. Faced with social media and the instantaneous transmission of information, the system, designed to function on the basis of a “gentleman’s agreement” with a few established publishers, has reached its limits.
“Journalists who write on these subjects are constantly running into censorship. There is a dialogue, a negotiation on what is publishable or not. It’s a process of give and take confirms Oren Persico, who writes for 7th Eye, a site specialize in the analysis of Israeli media.
“But how can you censor a blogger who tweets from another country? You can’t.” They are powerless in this situation.