Protest over the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh outside the BBC in May 2022 (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Israel has always been quick to lie to justify killing Palestinians. Its usual template is at first to cover-up its actions.

Then if that can’t be maintained, it says its deeds are legitimate. In May 2022 an Israeli sniper killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during a raid in Jenin.

The bullet struck her below her helmet but above the flak jacket she wore marking her out as press—indicating a precise shot.

But the Israeli prime minister at the time, Naftali Bennett, tried to claim she was killed by stray Palestinian fire.

And the Israeli military quickly released footage of a Palestinian fighter celebrating shooting a soldier—suggesting that he had actually shot Abu Akleh.

The widespread outrage at the murder forced the Israeli state to back track. In September 2022 the Israel military admitted there was a “high possibility” that Abu Akleh was “accidentally hit” by army fire—but that it would not begin a criminal investigation.

Assassinating a journalist makes sense for a state that covers up mass killings. In June 2006 Israeli forces blew up seven civilians, including three children, on a Gaza beach. The Israeli army quickly set up a committee to investigate the deaths on the beach. And almost as swiftly pardoned itself of responsibility.

It had happened before in Lebanon in 1982. The Shatila refugee camp was next to the neighbourhood of Sabra near the capital, Beirut. Between 16 and 18 September 1982, Lebanese far right forces, in coordination with the Israeli army, massacred at least 2,000 Palestinian refugees and Lebanese civilians.

Israeli officials insisted the state had not allowed the killing. Eventually the truth was revealed. But not a single Lebanese or Israeli killer or official was punished.

An Israeli investigation eventually said that its allies in the Lebanese Forces militia were directly responsible for the massacre.

But it had to admit that defence minister Ariel Sharon was “personally responsible for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge”. Sharon resigned from his post—only to be elected as prime minister in 2001.

The lies flow from the biggest one of all—the myth that the Israeli state was created in a barren land.

In fact the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948 saw murder and brutal intimidation to drive out a million Palestinians.

This truth has to be suppressed. In 2009, the Israeli Education Ministry banned the use of the word Nakba in textbooks for Palestinian children.

In 2011, the Israeli parliament passed a law prohibiting institutions from holding any events commemorating the Nakba.

This measure equates any ceremony marking the Nakba with incitement to racism, violence and terrorism.

The Israeli state considers the Palestinian effort to reveal the truth about the Nakba is extremely dangerous.

A lesson to been learned from 1948 is that lies can be successful if repeated often enough with powerful support.

And there will be more to come. Ariel Kallner, a member of parliament from prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party tweeted after the Hamas attack. “Right now, one goal—Nakba!

“A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of ’48. Nakba in Gaza and Nakba to anyone who dares to join!” he tweeted. And we can guarantee that this second Nakba will be surrounded by lies just as the first one was.

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