Hamas.com: Israel's latest propaganda tool
A website being shared by official Israeli government accounts on social media over the past week purporting to be a page for the Palestinian group Hamas has been debunked as a counterfeit website.
The URL ‘hamas.com’ has been widely shared online by the Israeli government accounts and spokespeople on X, formerly Twitter, in an apparent move to push people to "learn" about Hamas’s mission and October 7 attacks.
But social media users and investigative journalists have pointed out that the Hamas.com site is fake and does not belong to the official Hamas group. The Palestinian militant group’s official website, which follows the State of Palestine internet country code ‘.ps’ appears to be offline.
The counterfeit website being shared by Israeli government accounts and other social media users appears to promote Hamas’s killings of around 1,200 Israelis during the October 7 attack and the estimated 240 Israeli and foreign citizens kidnapped. Since then, over 14,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in a brutal ground and aerial bombardment of Gaza.
Finally, Hamas has a website fit for the 21st century >>> https://t.co/NX52Tmvm2f— Eylon Levy (@EylonALevy) November 20, 2023
The website’s home page shows the Hamas logo with the words in English underneath "Support the Liberation of Palestine".
By scrolling further down, viewers are met with a sequence of graphic and violent images and video footage appearing to show victims of the October 7 attacks.
On the Media Gallery section of the site, viewers are encouraged to "share our success and spread Jihad" with more violent footage and direct social media sharing links. There are also "Hamas testimonials" with quotes from members of the militia.
One recent post from Israel’s official government X account states "To understand the scale of Hamas’ crimes against humanity visit Hamas.com".
A Community Note – a new X feature which allows users to add context to posts in an attempt to counter disinformation – has been attached to it which states that the website is not controlled by Hamas.
Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy, who regularly appears on Western news channels such as the BBC, CNN and Sky News, also promoted the website on X: "Finally, Hamas has a website fit for the 21st century: Hamas.com".
Journalist Shayan Shazira from BBC Verify, the broadcaster’s verification unit which has been working to discern the veracity of claims shared online since the start of the conflict, posted on X that the website being platformed by Israeli government accounts was a "fake Hamas website".
As the website "https://t.co/ajygxmXHCq" is being tweeted by many official Israeli government accounts, it's worth noting that it's a fake Hamas website.— Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) November 21, 2023
The real website associated with Hamas is currently offline. pic.twitter.com/w9uHfYK46R
To add further discredit, according to a page on the public internet domain registry GoDaddy, the registrar URL of the website is Wix.com, an Israeli software company based in Tel Aviv.
According to an article published on 20 November by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the website was created by Israeli citizens: "Israelis Hijack Hamas.com, Turning It Into a Display of October 7 Atrocities".
Social media users pointed out that the sharing of the fake site was another example of unreliable Israeli government claims over the war on Hamas, part of their multifaceted propaganda campaign.
Since the war broke out, there has been a deluge of disinformation shared online which has distorted the narrative and fuelled instances of fake news.
In previous conflicts as well as today, the Israeli government has promoted a propaganda function known as ‘hasbara’ to control and shape narratives, particularly aimed at Western audiences.