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Israel's Naftali Bennett ridiculed over 'failed' Gaza 'propaganda' video

Far-right politician shows photo of Pakistan's Shifa International Hospital, making claims tying Hamas to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza
Naftali Bennett was called out for sharing an image from Pakistan instead of Gaza (AFP, Screengrab- Twitter)

Israeli far-right politician Naftali Bennett is being ridiculed online after sharing a video on Twitter that showed an image of a hospital in Pakistan as he claimed that Hamas uses one of Gaza's main hospitals as its headquarters.  

Bennett, a former minister of defence, posted the video on 20 May and tagged public figures Bella Hadid, Trevor Noah and John Oliver, who have been vocal about Israel's recent bombardment of Gaza, which killed 253 Palestinians including 66 children in 11 days before a ceasefire was announced. 

Bennett can be seen defending and justifying Israel's attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip, which started on 10 May, saying that the video, made in response to people who have shown solidarity with Palestine, intends to explain why the attacks were conducted.

"As a dad of four children, who spent the last week in a shelter, and as Israel's former defence minister I'd like to explain why innocent people are sometimes caught in the crossfire in our just war against terrorism," he said.

The video then shows an image of a hospital intended to be in Gaza, which social media users were quick to slam as fake news and failed propaganda, pointing out that the image was in fact of Shifa International Hospital in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. 

 "Ever hear of the Shifa hospital? It's the largest medical complex in Gaza. It's also where Hamas' headquarter is located while they're conducting terror actions against Israel," Bennett said.  

Israel's bombardment of Gaza destroyed a large number of buildings, including residential towers, the al-Rimal medical clinic and a number of roads and schools. Two doctors at Gaza's al-Shifa Hospital were killed in the air strikes. 

Gaza's health ministry has repeatedly condemned Israel's shelling of strategic locations, particularly near hospitals.

"Israeli planes targeted and blocked the roads leading to al-Shifa hospital in Gaza and various hospitals in Gaza. These attacks impede regular patient movements, and prevent the wounded from obtaining health services," the ministry had said in a statement.

In his video, Bennett also claimed that Hamas was hiding weaponry in a boys school in Gaza, and that the Jalaa building, also attacked in the May violence, is where Hamas "embedded its military intelligence".

Israeli forces have claimed that the 11-storey al-Jalaa building in Gaza City, which housed the offices of numerous media production companies and news agencies, including the Associated Press, Al Jazeera and Middle East Eye, was targeted because it contained Hamas intelligence assets.

Experts told Middle East Eye that the shelling of such buildings was illegal, describing the attacks as disproportionate.

The video ends with Bennett asking viewers to use their social media presence to demand that Hamas stops hiding behind innocent civilians. 

"Maybe you should ask Hamas operator Fathi Hamad to stop bragging that Palestinian women and children make the best human shields," he said.

The video was largely mocked online by social media users, who criticised Bennett for showing the wrong image of the hospital, and called on him to provide evidence for the other claims he had made.

A number of rights organisations have denounced Israel's targeting of civilians, medical staff and roads leading to hospitals and clinics. 

The shelling of a number of hospitals and medical centres in Gaza has severely impacted their ability to help patients, particularly as Covid-19 cases continue to soar. 

Gaza's main coronavirus laboratory was seriously damaged in the Israel's bombing campaign, forcing it to halt testing.