JERUSALEM — Israel’s Foreign Ministry released an animated short video Monday that mocks foreign journalists who covered last summer's war in the Gaza Strip. The hacks are portrayed -- horrors -- as clueless.
The short clip, produced in-house by the ministry, was prominently featured Monday on the home page of the diplomatic service. It is in English, with Hebrew subtitles, intended for a foreign audience.
It shows a blond TV man in coat and tie doing on-camera reports from Gaza during the conflict, which left more than 2,100 Palestinians in Gaza and 72 Israeli soldiers and civilians dead.
The production values are high, its creator appearing to pay homage to a “South Park” sensibility, with a tip of the hat to Trey Parker’s clueless reporter Chris Swollenballs.
The clueless reporter in the Israeli Foreign Ministry clip is played with a bit of swish, with hands on hips, dipping into a higher octave, as he reports in American-accented English. “There is no doubt that the Palestinian society here is liberal and pluralistic, and Hamas allows everyone to live in dignity," he declares as an armed goon head-bags a tomato vendor and drags him away. (See the chilling Amnesty International report on torture and extrajudicial killings in Gaza here.)
The release of the cartoon by the government comes a day after Israel issued a broad defense of how the country waged the war in the Gaza Strip last summer, making a case that Israel sought to minimize civilian casualties as the Islamist movement Hamas put its people in the line of fire and cynically used the ensuing death and destruction to stoke anti-Israel propaganda.
The Israeli report -- and the little cartoon video -- are timed to preempt what officials here assume is the imminent release of a critical report by the U.N. Human Rights Council on possible criminal acts by Israel and Hamas in the Gaza war.
In the Israeli government spoof, the cartoon reporter begins by chirping, "We are here in the center of Gaza, and as you can see, people here are trying to live quiet lives. There are no terrorists here, just ordinary people."
Behind him a masked militant carrying a rocket walks past a woman in a burqa with a baby stroller and then fires the rocket. In another bit, the reporter burbles on about a "Hamas subway system," as masked gun behind him burrow into an attack tunnel.
There is some backstory here. During and after the Gaza war, Israeli officials said foreign reporters in Gaza did not show images of Hamas launching rockets because they were cowed or intimidated. (Israel does not allow its own reporters to enter Gaza.)
The Foreign Ministry’s spokesman during the war, Yigal Palmor, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz he could not believe “veteran war photographers couldn’t capture even one launch team, a single Hamas fighter on a barricade, the kind of exclusive photo they routinely risk their neck for.”
After the war, top Israel Defense Forces intelligence officers revealed that rocket launchers were mostly buried underground and would not have been visible except at the moment of firing. Israeli forces who entered Gaza during the war said they rarely saw Hamas fighters face to face, nor did foreign correspondents, except for fleeting moments during cease-fires.
Foreign news reports were filled, however, with images of the contrails of rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza toward Israel, as well as news of death and damage in Gaza inflicted by Israeli air and artillery strikes.
Uri Resnick, a spokesman for Israel's foreign minister, said the animated video was “meant to expose the irony of how Gaza is portrayed” in the world media.
Asked if it was intended to poke the foreign hacks, he replied, diplomatically, “I don’t think it is meant to be an insult at all.”