It wasn't long after a bomb detonated on a bus in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, wounding 22 people, that images from the aftermath made their way onto Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV. Hamas, the Gaza-based group that has been fighting the Israeli military all week, has not taken responsibility for the bombing; some reports say a separate group claimed it as their own. Still, Al-Aqsa TV couldn't help but express glee at the act of terrorism.
The Israeli Defense Forces' social media team, which has been leading an aggressive and at times polarizing campaign that has sought to emphasize Hamas' anti-Israeli actions and rhetoric, quickly posted and translated the Al-Aqsa video. I asked several Arabic speakers to double-check the translation. Other than one or two very small tweaks — "The residents of the Gaza Strip are bowing down to Allah for this offering" could instead be "for this gift," one suggested — they agreed the English correctly represents the Arabic original.
The channel is more a propaganda outlet than a news network, of course, so you should not take it is as representative of what Gazans really believe, or perhaps even all of Hamas. Still, it's disturbing: "I pray to God the exalted we will see body bags in a short while," the announcer says of the already grisly scene. Here's the full statement:
These are scenes of the casualties. God willing, we will soon see black body bags. I pray to God the exalted we will see body bags in a short while. These are scenes of the Zionist casualties so far. Right now in these moments, the mosques in the Gaza Strip, their minarets are loudly sounding cries of "Allahu Akbar" and cries of joy, and the residents of the Gaza Strip are bowing down to Allah for this offering. The morale of the Gaza residents is in the sky right now, and is rising just as the rockets of the resistance.
Also today, halfway around the world, public radio hosts at a New York station interviewed Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon about the ongoing crisis. "Most of the people that were hit in Gaza deserved it," Ayalon said. That's nowhere near Al-Aqsa hoping that Israeli civilians will die in the Tel Aviv bus bombing, but it's a remarkably jarring comment given the well-reported deaths of Palestinian civilians in the fighting. Here's Ayalon's full comment:
If you compare the situation in Gaza, let's say, to the situation in Syria today, where the Assad regime just mercilessly butchers people and children, there is a big difference. And I would say that most of the people that were hit in Gaza deserved it, as they were just armed terrorists.
Again, I'm not suggesting that the speakers or their rhetoric are comparable. But it's yet another incident of representatives of both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict talking past one another, building their own case in a way that is not always particularly empathetic toward the other. You have to imagine that the negotiators behind the just-announced ceasefire used different language.