TEL AVIV, ISRAEL: The Israel Defense Forces scored some major PR points yesterday thanks to the eagle eyes of a young blogger in Haifa.
When a graphic photo, reportedly taken in the aftermath of a massacre committed by Israeli troops in the Gaza village of Khuza’a, appeared online Thursday evening, the response was one of immediate outrage and condemnation. Hundreds took to social media to voice their disgust at the image showing Palestinian civilians lying dead in the street, and within hours it had been circulated thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook.
But for 23-year-old Gershom Hecht, who has been using his blog Pumping Zion to defend Israel from international criticism throughout the latest assault on Gaza, when he saw the photo he knew instantly that something wasn’t quite right.
“It took me a while to put my finger on it, but the way in which the lifeless blood-soaked corpse of a woman was slumped face down on the floor amid the rubble towards the foreground just didn’t sit well with me,” he tells The Pan-Arabia Enquirer. “Then it hit me, I had seen it before.”
Hecht began looking through previous reports and photos of Israeli war crimes and human rights violations against the Palestinians, going over thousands of images of atrocities committed by the IDF since Operation Protective Edge began earlier in the month.
“After a few hours I found what I had been looking for: the exact same photo, but taken following the massacre committed in Gaza’s Shujaiyah neighbourhood five days before,” he says. “I felt quite foolish for not noticing sooner, as I remembered being struck by the concertina-like ruins of the residential block just behind the group of dead bodies furthest from the camera.”
Incensed by his findings, Hecht passed on the material to the Israeli Defense Force, and on to several blogs and news channels that had published the photo claiming it to be of the Khuza’a massacre. Many were forced to remove the image and issue a correction, although this was often only put in the footnotes of the latest report of an Israeli massacre in Gaza.
“It’s exactly this sort of misinformation from the biased, ill-informed and largely anti-Semitic media that is being used to damage Israel’s image in the eyes of the global community,” says Hecht.