The Israeli military deployed a new weapon of sorts in the ongoing conflict at the Israeli-Gaza border that has escalated over the past month.
In the wee hours of the morning on Friday, the Israeli army expanded their arsenal to include the media by issuing a vaguely worded statement on Twitter simultaneously in Hebrew and Arabic: “IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.”
On Thursday, an Israel Defence Force (IDF) spokesman indicated that the Israeli military was in “various stages of preparing ground operations”, according to Reuters. Israel also placed tanks on the border and fired into Gaza. Following these actions, it was only natural to interpret the new statement to mean that a ground invasion of the Gaza strip had actually begun.
Although many Israeli journalists were told a ground invasion was not happening, the foreign press, were told something else entirely: a ground attack had begun. The New York Times and Washington Post, among others, reported that a ground assaults had begun.
The Times of Israel reported that they contacted the military to clarify the discrepancies in the information shared with various news outlets. IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus explicitly told their reporter: “Yes. As it’s written in the statement: Indeed, ground forces are attacking in Gaza. That is that they are in the Strip.”
A Wall Street Journal correspondent posted on Twitter that Conricus “told [her] directly. ‘There are ground troops in Gaza.”
To be clear, @LTCJonathan told me directly, “there are ground troops in Gaza.” That was the basis for a first story saying so. He retracted that statement two hours later and I changed the story to reflect that, and that is noted in the text and will be corrected. https://t.co/8HRBjBwTYW
— Felicia Schwartz (@felschwartz) May 14, 2021
Apparently, about two hours later, and not until several large news outlets had reported the assumed invasion, the Israeli military “clarified” that there were no ground operations inside Gaza. Conricus told reporters it was due to an “internal miscommunication.”
“These things can sometimes happen in the midst of a complex operation with many moving parts and with an unclear picture of what was happening,” he said. “As soon as I understood that I had the wrong information, I updated the relevant people with a clarification.”
“They didn’t lie,” said Or Heller, a veteran military correspondent on Israel’s Channel 13 TV. “It was a manipulation. It was smart and it was successful.”
The clever deception sent Hamas fighters to the underground tunnel network known as the Metro. The Associated Press reported that 160 warplanes attacked the tunnels for 40 minutes, killing many militants, according to Heller.
“What we saw tonight was a very sophisticated operation that had a media aspect to it,” said Heller.”
Journalists had questions about the apparent misinformation and seemed to feel like they had been played.
“If they used us, it’s unacceptable. And if not, then what’s the story — and why is the Israeli media widely reporting that we were duped?” said Daniel Estrin, a correspondent for NPR who also received the “miscommunication.”
Israel’s alleged ingenious use of the media as part of their arsenal reveals how cunning they must be in the fight against the constant threat Israel faces from the terrorist organization Hamas.
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