On October 7, the Palestinian armed group Hamas carried out a surprise attack on Israeli military posts surrounding the Gaza Strip, which has been blockaded by Israel since 2007. The unprecedented attack shocked not only Tel Aviv but the whole world, as it was carried out against Israel, a country that prides itself on its past victories against Arab countries thanks to its professional army and advanced weapons.
The death toll on the Israeli side is still being counted at the time of writing. However, it is almost certain that around 1,300 Israeli soldiers have been killed so far, along with a number of civilians. Whether the number of casualties will remain stable is not yet known, but Israeli officials have admitted that October 7 was the worst day in the country’s history, having lost fewer people in the Six-Day War of 1967 when Israel fought four Arab countries simultaneously. What is more, the perpetrator of this latest defeat is a non-state armed group, confined to Gaza City and without even access to conventional weapons.
Immediately after the attack went viral, the U.S. and European countries expressed solidarity with Israel and condemned the Hamas attack. For example, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU Commission, posted several consecutive tweets saying that they [the EU] stand with Israel. Thierry Breton, a member of the EU Commission, asked Elon Musk, owner of X, to remove pro-Palestinian posts. The EU Commission tried to suspend financial assistance to Palestine, but failed as several countries rejected the proposal; however, some EU members, such as Denmark and Austria, suspended Palestinian development aid but decided to maintain humanitarian assistance.
In addition, the U.S., the UK, Germany, France, and Italy issued a joint statement supporting Israel’s right of self-defense. British Home Secretary Suella Braverman even said that the flying of the Palestinian flag might not be legitimate. In addition, U.S. President Joe Biden, senators, and many other American politicians not only verbally expressed their support for Israel, but immediately ordered the U.S. Army to supply arms to Israel. At present, a U.S. aircraft carrier has docked close to the Israeli coast and another is about to arrive in the region.
As for the Western mainstream media, it can be said that unsurprisingly their coverage has been anything but neutral. In almost all the reports, Israel is portrayed as the victim and the Palestinian side as the guilty party. Their bias can be seen in headlines: BBC News’ X account wrote, “More than 500 people have died in Gaza after Israel launched massive retaliatory air strikes, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
More than 1,300 people have been killed in Israel since Hamas launched its attacks on Saturday.” [emphasis added] According to the BBC, when a Palestinian is killed by the Israeli army, they just die, but when it is the other way round, the action becomes murder. Moreover, almost all British newspapers on their October 10 front pages claimed that 40 babies had been beheaded by Hamas, although no such brutality took place. The editorial approach of other Western media was more or less the same as that of the BBC.
However, despite the staunch and unrelenting support of Western capitals and media, it can be argued and substantiated that Israel has long lost the information war against Palestine. A poll conducted by Pew Research Center in 2022 shows that the U.S. public opinion is only slightly more favorable towards Israel than Palestine, which was not the case before. The striking aspect of the poll is that American youth have more positive feelings towards Palestine than Israel.
A year later, a poll conducted in July 2023, shows that views of Palestine are more favorable than those of Israel. Polls conducted in Europe show similar results, with younger generations having more positive perceptions of Palestine than Israel, in contrast to their elders. In general, while Westerners’ perceptions of Palestine and Israel are almost the same, support for the former is gradually increasing while the latter is losing momentum in terms of positive perceptions. Across the world, people are more sympathetic to the Palestinians than to the Israelis.
When Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, the Israeli government reported that civilians were among the casualties. Although the number of civilians killed is not currently conclusive, it is clear that this will affect perceptions of Palestine, but it may not stop the growing support for Palestinian rights at the grassroots level.
There are several reasons for this positive momentum. First, anyone with a conscience and the ability to apply reason can fathom that the attacks by Palestinian groups are a response to previous Israeli attacks, the blockade of Gaza, the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinians, the deprivation of basic rights, and the occupation of Palestinian land. It is straightforward to compare the asymmetry of power between the two sides, the number of victims, and the violations of international law, among others. Moreover, anyone can deconstruct narratives that are clearly biased; for example, if one side argues, “Israel has the right to defend itself,” the other side can ask, “Why do the Palestinians not have the same right?”
Second, the internet, in general, and social media, in particular, allow access to different sources of information, including those of the disadvantaged side and even the victims. Giant media corporations may be the mouthpiece of Israel all the time, but a video taken by a Gazan can easily refute the lies. Disinformation is no longer dominant in the flow of information. Thanks to the internet, people learn the truth not through biased media(tors) but directly from the sources.
Finally, with the ever-increasing number of Palestinians expelled from their land over the last decades, the Palestinian diaspora has grown larger and stronger. Living among foreigners, the diaspora has the opportunity to explain what is happening in their homeland. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, a platform fighting for Palestinian rights, Palestinian academics, pro-Palestinian communities, NGOs, and governments are helping to make the Palestinian cause known transparently and without malicious interceptions. As a result, people sympathize and empathize with the Palestinians and their suffering.
Palestine is winning the information war; technology hates bias, and people have the ability to distinguish truth from lies—and, first and foremost, Palestinians are right in their cause.