Gaza police to sue Palestine TV over fake video

The Hamas-controlled police in the Gaza Strip is threatening to sue Palestine Television (PTV) for airing a video that allegedly shows them throwing Gaza civilians off buildings but is in fact footage of Iraqi prisoners under the regime of Saddam Hussein.
A still from the 2003 CNN footage from Iraq which PTV said showed Gaza police throwing civilians off buildings.

GAZA, September 29, 2008 (MENASSAT) – The video went on the air on September 24 with Palestine TV (PTV), a Fatah-controlled station, claiming that it showed Palestinian civilians being thrown off buildings in the Gaza Strip.

But the story quickly turned into a controversy after Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV aired images from CNN showing Iraqi prisoners being punished under the regime of Saddam Hussein.

They were the same images.

Media war

The video is the latest shot in the ongoing media war between the Fatah party, which rules the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Fatah, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas, headed by deposed prime minister Ishmael Haniya, have been at bitter odds ever since Hamas' election win in 2006, and Hamas' subsequent take-over of the Gaza Strip in 2007 in what it said was a preemptive move against a Fatah coup attempt.

In the PTV video, masked gunmen which the station said belonged to the Hamas-controlled Gaza police  are seen throwing members of a family off of a building, allegedly in Shujaiya, east of Gaza City. The victims, according to PTV, were members of a powerful family aligned with Fatah and opposed to the Hamas takeover of Gaza.


A group of Gaza policemen, after learning about the similarities between the PTV and CNN footage, has threatened to sue PTV.

But Islam Shihwan, the spokesperson for the group, admitted that he didn't expect the lawsuit to get very far.

So the police have also sent letters to several human rights organizations with details of the PTV footage and the original CNN footage.

"PTV must be condemned for what it has done: airing fabricated stories at a time when the Palestinian factions are discussing how to regain national unity," Shihwan said.

Last Tuesday, Fatah agreed to an Egyptian proposal to create a new Palestinian unity government but Hamas so far is rejecting the plan.

Other members of the Gaza police organization told MENASSAT that they had first contacted PTV's management to try to get an on air apology, but PTV refused.

Sources say that PTV knew very well that the images were fabricated, since a Lebanese TV channel had aired the same images on September 27, sourcing them to Palestine Television, and apologized for broadcasting them after it was revealed that the images were fabricated.

In a scene right out of the Hamas vs. Fatah media war playbook, it was Hamas' media arm, Al-Aqsa TV, that came out with the original CNN footage from October 2003.

At the time, CNN described the footage as "graphic evidence of the torture techniques that Saddam Hussein used to intimidate and to control the Iraqi people."

Samir Abu Mohsen, director of Al-Aqsa channel told MENASSAT, "We are used to PTV lying, and we will see to it that they are exposed in front of the Arab and Palestinian public opinion, and we will insist on the truth being revealed so that people are not fooled."

Abu Mohsen said the lawsuit wouldn’t have much effect on the current Palestinian divide.

Truth be damned

MENASSAT's calls to PTV's director Muhammad Al-Dahoudi and other members of the PTV management were not returned.

But another source at the television station said on condition of anonimity, "We don’t want to enter into a debate with Al-Aqsa because everyone knows Hamas' bloody practices against dissenters in the Gaza Strip. All you need to do is google it. We don't need to fabricate events."

In the end, the truth may not even matter as an unscientific MENASSAT poll in the streets of Gaza shows.

Alia', who only identified herself with her first name said, "If these images are true, it means we have reached the point of no return.”

She said Al-Aqsa's response to the incident hasn't convinced many people.

"People believe what they have already seen on their mobile phones and online regardless of whether its true or not."

Moain, the owner of a curtain shop in Gaza, thinks the lawsuit is useless since the issue is "a political one."

"We are talking not about one but two countries with two different systems," he said. "There is no room for legal action or trying to act in a civil manner in such a situation."