Operation Al-Aqsa Flood: A favor for generations to come
Content creation has become an integral aspect of confronting the Israeli occupation during Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, attributing a more significant role to the younger generation in dismantling the Israeli occupation's false narratives.
My sister was born shortly before the liberation of South Lebanon in 2000. Like many her age, she is committed to the cause of Resistance, but there is a significant difference between retrospectively reading up on war and having to fully experience it firsthand.
This generation loves the Resistance even though they did not experience the media coverage that accompanied its pursuit for liberation before the Israeli withdrawal in 2000. They hardly even remember the experience of the 2006 July War and the subsequent pains and sufferings, without forgetting, of course, the exceptional victory.
The sense of security that this generation has grown accustomed to when visiting our southern villages has become inherent. They are very well aware, however, through regular media coverage, to whom the credit for this sense of security is owed. They understand how the equation of deterrence has developed and solidified, at any cost and by any means. The children of the liberated homeland have enjoyed the bliss thanks to the sacrifices of their brethren who have become one with its soil, both in life and death. My sister grew up closely following the news, but she has not experienced a war firsthand.
The battle of narratives in ideological warfare
Anybody who recognizes the importance of visuals and narratives in the contemporary campaign of ideological subversion, which has loomed over my sister's generation, recognizes the cultural and intellectual byproducts it has begotten. This new generation has recurrently called on those who adopt noble causes to produce appealing work capable of attracting those with a healthy intuition; to draw them in with attractive packaging that would allow for the rewriting of recent history and the regional conflicts which characterized it.
Topics of liberation and emancipation are at the forefront of such noble causes. The strategic and intellectual weight of these topics is underrepresented in the content available on social media platforms. Thus, rich and clear cognitive materials aren't properly communicated to the youth who seek out these platforms for information.
The feat of documentation and news production is undoubtedly challenging. Moreover, the post-production phase, specifically accessibility and publication, also presents difficulties in the face of Western dominance over the world of content creation, in addition to monopolizing the needed infrastructure for publication and dissemination.
The need for such content arises at a time when initiatives serving this purpose are in decline. The rapid and multidirectional proliferation of globalization drags people into an endless whirlpool of banalization and consumption. In fact, globalization has taken away the drive that stems from the values of honor, sacrifice, empathy, and selflessness; values that are in no way relevant to the notion of excessive self-interest.
In the period between 2011 and 2021 that saw intense fighting in the Arab region, Palestine witnessed massive pacifist propaganda campaigns aimed at pushing forth rhetoric built on the idea that Palestinians have abandoned their cause. This was used as a pretext to justify the fact that Arabs have abandoned that same Palestinian cause only to later promote projects of normalization.
Social media platforms were an integral tool of systematic deception, utilized by entities that gave birth to terrorist organizations, especially through so-called "activists" and "influencers". Public figures attempted to redefine norms, based on what is most popular or accessible or the most capable of employing the tools of the new global system without restricting the process to the usual components of familiar stardom, most notably high-quality and unique content.
Theatrical and televised productions played a role in spreading these values. Productions often focused on "coexistence" and normalization between Palestinians and Israelis, in an attempt to introduce controversial topics among younger demographics. Ideas that tap into the essence of the Palestinian cause and the feasibility of normalization were introduced into public discourse, transforming the answer to the question of Palestine from one that has garnered wide-ranging consensus into one that is up for debate. Discussing the Palestinian cause in theatricals became a space for "innovative" approaches in order to gain popularity and likes on social media platforms.
A network of biased platforms employed influencers driven by social clout, financial gain, and support from centers of normalization in an attempt to reshape the awareness of younger generations by shattering historical timeframes; a venture that failed miserably.
Seif Al-Quds: The prelude
One of the prominent outcomes of Seif Al-Quds Battle in May 2021 was that it highlighted the importance of a public image in shaping the landmarks of victory and resilience as far as the Palestinian cause is concerned. Its significance was not only evident from the perspective of Palestinians and allied entities and individuals, but it also served to further the feeling of disappointment among Israelis.
Coinciding with the Israeli occupation forces' failure on the battlefield, Israeli media outlets and propagandists worked relentlessly to build up a pseudo-image of victory, falsely implying that the occupation had achieved its objectives during its aggression on the Gaza Strip.
Notably, what differed about the Israeli strategies was that they constituted mere reactions to the Zionist narrative being exposed before the public opinion by the younger generation in Palestine and elsewhere.
The Israeli war machine did not only face the Resistance's rocket fire and the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, but it also had to deal with the undisputable legitimacy of the Palestinian cause as a leading global issue on a daily basis.
The Israeli discourse at the time often revolved around minimizing the duration of the battle as much as possible. The reasons were not only military and security-related but also a result of the Zionist realization that the factor of time would only serve the Palestinian narrative, which gained traction and support on social media platforms, with people taking to the streets en masse. "Israel" wanted to halt the attrition battle not only on the battlefield but also in the digital spaces of public opinion.
Perhaps the method by which the Palestinian narrative emerged and surpassed false Israeli claims in May 2021 reflects the demographics of those who stood behind the process.
Considering that the youth were responsible for both ideological and cultural framing, as previously mentioned, through digital platforms, the process of coming up with the means and pathways to promote the Palestinian cause represented, in turn, a successful challenge to them having come up with visual and material tools, promoting the Battle of Seif Al-Quds in parallel with their principles, aspirations, and perspectives on the matter.
As a result, the Israeli occupation faced confrontation in yet another arena, hindering its plots in two prominent aspects:
- The first was its failure to impose its narrative and control the counter-narrative.
- The second was that it came under immense pressure regarding achieving its goals with its allegations laid bare.
The Battle of Seif Al-Quds paved a series of ground-changing events, serving as a solid foundation to build upon this historical moment's achievements. In contrast, the Israeli occupation began to largely focus the efforts of its intelligence and security apparatus on reforming "Israel's" image, which was seriously damaged on a global scale.
Among Israelis, the significance of the battle extended beyond the "image of defeat," which came as a result of Seif Al-Quds. Instead, the idea of "Israel's" survival has penetrated societal awareness among Israelis. Youth around the world have emphasized the occupation's lack of security, the Israeli government's failure to provide its settlements with the needed protection, and the illegitimacy of "Israel's" presence on Palestinian territory.
The "image" of the oppression that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank were subjected to was no longer limited to them and extended to include the Palestinians in the territories occupied in 1948.
Globally, the importance of protests in support of the Palestinian cause was not limited to their popularity or the slogans under which they were held. Digging deeper into the matter, a more obscure factor appears, which is that the Israeli narrative failed to gain any popularity or support among people in the East and the West.
In this sense, the protests supporting the Palestinian cause were uncontested, as the world saw no demonstrations that supported "Israel".
Similarly, discourse and visual content on social media did not showcase aspects of the Israeli narrative but rather refuted it or questioned it at the very least. Moreover, the majority of opinion polls indicate that "Israel" is unpopular on a global scale.
Al-Aqsa Flood: Introducing a new generation to Israeli crimes
During the early hours of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, the unfolding events remained unclear for many around the world. People were mainly bringing up two questions: What happened? And why did it happen?
Knowing that the Israeli occupation's media strategy focuses on deception, evasion of responsibility, and denial of the rights of other parties, it sought to obscure the answers to the second question.
During these initial hours, the Palestinian narrative was under threat and came under a fierce attack, aided by an influx of disinformation propagated by "Israel". Western media and intelligence apparatuses naturally aligned themselves with "Israel".
Currently, in line with the modern approach of confrontation, analyzing books and media productions does not suffice our objective of defining "Israel's" nature and deeply analyzing it. This stems from the fact that "Israel's" daily brutal crimes against innocent people have almost surpassed virtual imagination. "Israel" excels in shedding people's blood and it feeds off terrorizing and torturing others. Soon after, it showcases exceptional proficiency in disinforming and misleading the public for the sake of protecting its image by selling itself as acting in "self-defense".
In doing so, Israeli propaganda relies on imposing its own version of events from the very moment they occur and paving the way for any prior action with the aim of justifying and passing it on by curbing any talk about the real causes or the actual path that led things to it.
This is exactly what happened during Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. "Israel" attempted to portray the operation as an unexpected surprise attack in an attempt to delegitimize the actions of Palestinians. However, in essence, the "unexpected" attack was actually fully expected due to humanitarian reasons that have cornered Palestinians in Gaza and coerced them into "attacking" those who kill, besiege, and threaten them with slow death.
October 7 showed the stark difference between "Israel's" security failure, which was unable to predict the attack, and popular discourse, which anticipated an inevitable attack by those who had no choice and were left with nothing but to confront the occupation.
While the resilient Palestinians remain patient, sympathetic, and steadfast, even in the face of a lack of the most basic necessities of survival, pushing the Palestinian narrative forward is not an easy task. In some aspects, the task differed from previous events due to the West's ready-made political, military, and media support to "Israel".
On the other hand, and in this particular confrontation, the performance of military media stands out prominently, whether in terms of documentation or advanced and rapid production of media content, not to mention the process of disseminating this information amid severe bans imposed by several social media platforms.
In this context, the logo of the military media and the material they publish has transformed into a much-needed morale boost by pro-Palestinian audiences around the clock. Any footage they publish would instantly flood digital platforms, considering that such information reassures activists and supporters, who feel overwhelmed by pride when viewing a Resistance fighter engage occupation forces from point-blank range.
Such content has had profound and far-reaching effects in South Lebanon too, where the strength and unwavering stance of the people of the South against the occupation are consolidated by the content disseminated by the Military Media of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon. Footage depicting Resistance fighters monitoring and targeting Israeli assets and positions showcases the fighters' courage, subsequently boosting the morale of the Lebanese people.
Pathways of confrontation
As time unfolded, revealing the alarming scope of Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip, social media platforms emerged as a crucial factor in shaping influence and molding opinions, particularly among the new generation. This dynamic presented a dual-faceted challenge, requiring strategic responses in two distinct directions:
- The first was to expose Israeli claims regarding the actions of the Resistance and Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people.
- The second was to underpin Operation Al-Aqsa Flood as part of the Palestinian right to resist occupation, which cannot be negated or disregarded via any arguments resorted to in order to question the legitimacy of the Resistance and hide the reality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Therefore, debunking Israeli lies about the Palestinian Resistance during the operation went hand in hand with disseminating documented evidence of Israeli crimes against children and civilians in Gaza. While this aspect of confrontation was not difficult due to Israeli arrogance and its military's blatant war crimes, which completely disregarded international law, it required a methodical approach given the fact that the enemy controls a massive and influential media apparatus.
Pro-Palestine youth driven by enthusiasm and a sense of responsibility engaged the occupation's media on various fronts, utilizing both defensive and offensive strategies through the following paths:
- Documentation and language: Scenes from Gaza, illustrating Israeli brutality and crimes, needed to be documented via their spatiotemporal contexts. In the face of quickly disseminated Israeli narratives, it was essential to document these crimes against children and women or civilians in general and clarify where they occurred (a house, a hospital, a street, a car) and at what time.
This aimed to show that the occupation's actions were arbitrary and deliberate, as the locations of the attacks made their intention clearer to observers. Documentation also served to create historical content that prevents intentional distortion and systematic lies, in turn, feeding tools of research and archives.
Regarding language, translation across multiple languages allowed material, originally made available in Arabic, to reach a wider audience. This exerted more pressure on the occupation and exposed its lies before the largest possible segments of society who could be employed to defend the Palestinian cause, especially among millennials who have brought a different approach to accessing content, consuming news, and taking positions on various issues.
- The pursuit of information: First, individuals pursued information on the ground and did not settle for what the cameras caught and released. Instead, youth in Gaza actively sought and risked their well-being to obtain digital material.
While scenes of children being maimed by Israeli missiles did reach us and were widely spread, there were heinous crimes that demanded greater efforts to unveil and disseminate them—especially those intentionally concealed or distorted by the Israeli occupation. For instance, the deliberate obscuring attempt of the crime at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital is one example.
Pursuing information also involves delving into the ideology of the occupation, which is based on crime, the concealment of its objectives, and recalling similar numerous crimes to demonstrate the historical approach that it has adopted. Media pursuit, particularly on social media platforms, unveils the deception and lies orchestrated by the Israelis and the Israeli propaganda, which is complicit with that of the West.
- Creativity: With the completion of documentation, the use of correct language, and the pursuit of information that exposes the crimes of the occupation, publishing should go hand in hand with certain creative tools that innovatively attract viewers and public opinion. This is crucial to serve the algorithms of the platforms where such content would be published, requiring that all elements from headlines to images to the arrangement of scenes and audio be optimally presented to users.
- Rising above details that bring about dissent: While the Palestinian cause is a unifying factor for the nation, in its entirety, the new generation is faced with a larger responsibility of preventing discord, especially knowing that the enemy strives for division. Rising above any such details not only requires refraining from divisive rhetoric but also actively striking out any grounds for division and always considering it under the category of “collusion with the occupation” because, after all, it does serve its interests and support it. Working on preventing this requires studying the points of contention that the occupation might seek to exploit, only to then contain it, followed by confronting it, and finally preventing its reoccurrence.
- Bringing forth figures that serve the cause: Bringing forth influential figures and role models is crucial for boosting morale and unifying efforts that serve Palestine. Such figures who are [usually] of diverse backgrounds and hold carrying perspectives counter Israeli attempts at division and encourage resistance and confrontation due to their status and credibility.
- Preserving the image of the victory on October 7: Efforts should also be concentrated on reviving the image of victory achieved on October 7, which the Israeli occupation is attempting to bury as it attempts to push a prevailing gloomy image of the aftermath of the Operation.
One of the most significant strategic losses suffered by the Israeli enemy, as a result of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, was that it inadvertently comprehensively explained the Palestinian cause to upcoming generations. "Israel's" genocidal onslaught once again exposed the essence and nature of the occupation for the whole world to see. This battle accumulated a striking scope of awareness, various popular mobilizations, and a vast array of content, forming parallel battlefronts to the actual battles taking place in the military and political realms.
What stands out here is that the paths of confrontation, in their diversity, benefited fundamentally from the content coming out of Gaza or its envelope. The process of documentation and exporting visual material relied heavily on ordinary citizens and field reporters, in addition to journalists and social media users. Consequently, this system of work faced mounting pressure such as Internet and communication blackouts that the Gaza Strip suffered from on multiple occasions.
This undoubtedly impacted both the quantity and quality of the published material, as well as the timeframes in which Israeli narratives were confronted with the truth. Therefore, it is expected that after Operation Al-Aqsa Flood ends, activists will be able to access thousands of untold stories and observations from the field that have not been made available yet. The victors, Palestinians, are responsible for narrating these events to the world, continuing the process of documentation from which written history will be derived and instilling more awareness into new generations from which they can draw valuable lessons.
The positive outcomes resulting from the battle will undoubtedly accumulate and must be built upon for what is yet to come, as was done following the Battle of Seif Al-Quds.
Moreover, the rejuvenation of the content creation process, founded on its cumulative effectiveness and the capacity to seamlessly integrate into support for the Palestinian cause among new generations, has attained remarkable success. This success is attributed to a content creation process that has adhered to scientific methodology, received substantial humanitarian and cultural backing, and, at its core, attained a resilient popular foundation and a Resistance movement that actively engages the occupation on the battlefield.
This dynamic transforms it into a strategic front within multifaceted fronts of confrontations that continue to unsettle "Israel", both in military and intellectual dimensions. Consequently, new generations find themselves entrusted with new responsibilities amid evolving strategic challenges, particularly as the true face of "Israel" is glaringly laid bare before their eyes.