Hooray for Pallywood, or rather Gazallywood, that wonderful melange of misleading footage, falsehoods, fakeries and frauds that makes up so much of what the Western media reports as going on in Gaza. The latest offering was brought to Australia by Todd Sampson, co-creator of Earth Hour and host of Body Hack on Channel 10, which was made with generous funding from unsuspecting taxpayers, courtesy of Screen Australia and Create NSW.
Mr Sampson says he was assisted by the only female fixer in Gaza and not since Samson fell for Delilah and had his eyes gouged out by the Philistines has anyone been quite so blind to Palestinian shenanigans in Gaza.
Sampson says his original mission was to document the lives of medics in Gaza, but once he met his fixer, he ended up making something else. What? Hamas propaganda. ‘Body Hack is not a political show, we’re not here to take sides,’ says Sampson somewhat disingenuously, since he didn’t even try to present two sides to the story; he spent three weeks filming in Gaza and none in Israel. As he gads about from one lethal ‘protest’ to the next, he is perpetually surprised when he and his Hamas minders are shot at as they charge at Israeli soldiers and sailors. ‘It’s starting to feel to me like a sick form of target practice,’ he whinges, as if he thinks the whole thing is a nasty game the Israelis are playing. ‘It’s really hard not to take sides, when one side is shooting at you,’ he announces. Well, what a surprise. That is how Israelis feel. Since Hamas seized power in Gaza, in 2006, Israeli civilians have been bombarded with rockets and mortars; more than 600 were fired in May this year, and more than 20,000 have been fired at Israel since 2001. Sampson doesn’t cover that. He is only interested in Palestinian pain. ‘To not show what we showed would be to omit the truth,’ he says, but it is his sins of omission which distort reality. He talks of Israel bombing a school without explaining that Hamas weapons were hidden in it or flattening apartment blocks without explaining that Hamas shoots weapons from heavily populated areas to use civilians as human shields. There is no mention of Hamas diverting millions of dollars in international aid into constructing tunnels to allow terrorists to infiltrate Israel. Or conversely of the thousands of Palestinians who are treated in Israeli hospitals every year.
He hardly mentions that bitter enmity between Fatah and Hamas which results in so much of the hardship in Gaza — such as the electricity shortages caused by the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority refusing to pay the electricity bill for Hamas. And although Israel and Egypt have both tightened their borders to clamp down on Hamas weapons-smuggling and terrorist infiltration, he only mentions an Israeli blockade which he claims caused ‘a massive humanitarian crisis and more recently protests,’ without mentioning how Hamas has created the humanitarian crisis by waging an unwinnable war without end on Israel.
As with any Pallywood film there are also spurious claims of Israeli atrocities not backed up by any evidence, like the allegation that the Israelis are deliberately shooting at kneecaps or using ‘butterfly bullets’ even though the gruesome footage of injuries and operations shown in all their gory detail didn’t back this up.
Sampson films what he calls a ‘peaceful protest’ at the border, part of the regular Friday March of Return. It looks like a riot. Burning tyres release thick black plumes of smoke giving cover to those seeking to cut the fence and infiltrate Israel or lay mines and booby-trapped explosive devices with delayed detonation devices along the border fence. Projectiles are hurled at Israeli soldiers, and might be anything from stones, ball bearings and grenades to improvised explosive devices. Yet Sampson presents ‘the protest’ as harmless fun. ‘Most of the protesters are just kids,’ he says, even though many are obviously adults. ‘Hamas buses a lot of them out here every week,’ he says, without questioning the morality of busing children into war zone. Sampson thinks the ‘kids’ go along because they ‘have nothing to do, no place to play’ and protests are ‘a form of meaningful entertainment.’ That’s one way of putting it.
But even though the provocation comes from Palestinians, it is the Israelis who are blamed; tear gas is a ‘chaotic and cruel’ form of crowd control; the IDF policy of not shooting to kill angers him even more. ‘Their policy is to shoot the legs. They consider this a form of restraint,’ he says, indicating by his tone of voice that he does not. Even after over 7,000 protesters have been shot in the leg, over 12 months, they hobble back to the battlefield on crutches. It never occurs to Sampson that Palestinians could exercise restraint by staying away from the ‘protests’. It is obvious that Hamas is using its citizens both as human shields and as cannon fodder, but Sampson claims the deeper motivation of the ‘protesters’ is ‘hope’. In reality, it’s probably a mix of intimidation, financial incentives — Hamas and Fatah have policies of ‘pay to slay’ — and brainwashing. ‘Farfur’, the Palestinian Mickey Mouse who teaches children to hate Israel, is broadcast from Gaza. A 2017 video of the graduation ceremony of Al-Huda Kindergarten in Gaza, affiliated with Islamic Jihad shows tots armed with toy weapons, in military uniforms and Islamic Jihad headbands pretending to kill other children playing Israeli soldiers and dressed as ultra-Orthodox Jews. Is it effective? Sampson asks some Palestinian children if they would play with Israeli children, and they respond with disgust saying, ‘No, we would kill them.’ ‘Do you think you could share the land together?’ he asks lamely. ‘No,’ they respond in amazement. ‘So, what do you want to happen?’ ‘We want to kill them,’ they reply.
When Sampson meets Islamic Jihad soldiers, he naively asks, ‘If Israel gave back Gaza and the West Bank, would you recognise Israel as a state?’ Behind his mask, the leader’s eyes widen in surprise and he pauses before explaining, as if to a not so bright child, ‘We do not recognise Israeli existence. Israel is an illegal country; it has to be abolished,’ adding, just in case Sampson had missed the message, ‘There is no peace as long as the Israeli enemy is here. The peace will begin when the so-called State of Israel ends.’
As his holiday draws to a close, Sampson says he feels guilty that he can walk away leaving the residents behind in their ‘open air prison’. He wants to embrace his fixer, but she tells him something that he seems to constantly forget, and she presumably never does. ‘Todd don’t hug me. Hamas is watching,’ she says. But Sampson, to judge by his film, remains blind to the powers pulling the strings in Gaza to the end.