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Gaza Stampede Is a Public Opinion Time Bomb Ready to Go Off

March 1, 2024

by: Ron Ben Yishai ~ Ynetnews

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Palestinians have been trying to ignite a public opinion bomb on social media to halt the IDF’s ground operation in Gaza (illustrative).

Friday, 1 March 2024 | Hamas and the Palestinian Authority [PA] have only two avenues left to stop the Israel Defense Force’s [IDF] advancing operation in the Gaza Strip and the dismantling of Hamas’s military power. The first is a hostage release deal. The second, which came to light again on Thursday, is international pressure on humanitarian grounds, which will force Israel—mainly as a result of US intervention—to completely halt the fighting in Gaza.

Hamas leadership already understands that Israel is willing to make concessions regarding a hostage deal, but won’t commit to ending the fighting under any circumstances. Therefore, Hamas has turned to international pressure, hoping to compel the IDF to stop the war.

This is also why the Palestinian Health Ministry—and PA spokesmen under Mahmoud Abbas’s leadership—are trying to turn the tragic incident in Gaza caused during the unloading of humanitarian aid trucks into a “massacre” for which Israel and the IDF are responsible. Thus, even before all the details and casualty figures were clarified, the incident had already acquired a name: the “Al-Rashid Massacre.”

Since the early morning hours, the Palestinians have been trying to ignite a public opinion bomb that will finally, they hope, halt the IDF’s ground operation in the Gaza Strip. The one currently at the forefront of this battle for public opinion is the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. It must show, providing solid evidence, that Israel isn’t responsible for the stampede and that, even if IDF soldiers fired at the looters, they weren’t what caused the large number of casualties.

The thousands of Gazans who stormed and attempted to loot the food from the trucks—as seen in the footage filmed by an Israeli drone—were either trampled by the crowd or run over by drivers trying to escape.

This was the first incident clearly visible in the drone footage and in which the IDF had no involvement. Immediately after this event, there was another attempt to loot the trucks. During this incident, armed individuals—likely Hamas terrorists or members of other terror organizations—fired at the crowd to deter them or to steal from the trucks themselves.

The IDF was, in fact, directly involved only in the third incident, where part of the Gazan crowd that tried to approach the trucks came within tens of meters of IDF soldiers—probably because they fled from the terrorists or tried to approach the food trucks from another direction.

In this event, according to an IDF officer who commanded the tanks on-site, IDF soldiers felt threatened, fired warning shots in the air, and then fired at the feet of the advancing crowd. There’s no specific documentation for this event that the IDF can obtain to refute the Palestinian claims. However, what the IDF can argue and show through the footage taken from the air, is that most of the casualties occurred in incidents where the military wasn’t involved.

A Legitimate Fight

We must hope that Israel will succeed in refuting the Palestinian claims, which are clearly exaggerated and false.

What might help in this regard is the fact that journalists from CNN and other international media outlets who interviewed Palestinians were present there, with the Gazans recounting that the truck drivers ran over a significant portion of the looters and that the crowd trampled over many others.

However, the battle for public opinion in this matter is still ongoing and may have implications for the continuation of the fighting and the negotiations for a hostage deal.

Hamas has already announced it may suspend or delay the negotiations for a deal following Thursday morning’s stampede, but it is reasonable to assume that this is part of the psychological warfare routine the terrorist organization has conducted since the start of the war.

Strategically and diplomatically, Israel needs to take proactive moves to minimize the number of incidents that would allow Hamas and the PA to reap such public relations achievements in the international arena as much as possible, which may harm—and even undo—Israel’s legitimacy to fight until all war objectives are complete.

The writing was already on the wall concerning humanitarian aid and looting. As soon as looting incidents began, it was clear that when they occurred in an area under IDF control Israel would be held responsible.

Posted on March 1, 2024

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Ynetnews on February 29, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Jason Howie/

Photo License: Wikimedia