JERUSALEM (AP) — A Twitter hashtag campaign launched by Hamas on Friday to build support in the West seems to be backfiring with users mocking the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza.
Hamas launched (hashtag)AskHamas on Friday. The campaign promised responses from the group's leaders, or as they called it, "Truth from the mouth of the horse."
Some Twitter users swiftly responded with mockery.
One asked if a masked Hamas gunman was "single and ready to mingle."
Some criticized Hamas for hiding weapons and fighters in civilian areas in its war last summer with Israel. One asked Hamas "how it chooses human shields."
The Gaza war left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, the majority of them civilians, according to Palestinian and U.N. officials. Israel says the number of Palestinian fighters killed was much higher and accuses Hamas of using civilians as human shields and storing weapons in schools and hiding gunmen in hospitals. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians were killed.
A Twitter user whose profile identified her as an Israeli diplomat asked: "Given a choice, is it better to hide a weapons cache in a hospital's radiology or pediatrics unit?"
Another Tweeter asked: "Now serious question - looking back to summer 2014--was it worth it?"
Hamas said the hashtag campaign was launched so the militant group could express its views directly to the world. Bassem Naim, a Hamas official, said the campaign is "a step by Hamas to introduce it to the world in new languages, English, French and German, on the basis that the source is a direct Hamas official, not through mediators or translators."
According to the social media analytics website Topsy, the AskHamas hashtag generated 36,000 tweets in a single day.
Some tweeters asked Hamas about their use of suicide bombers in buses, cafes and other civilian areas during the Palestinian Intifada.
Journalist Jeffery Goldberg asked "Why did you murder 30 civilians, including 20 people over the age of 70, at a Passover Seder in Netanya in 2002?"
Pictures of Palestinian children at rallies where militants wore suicide bomber vests and waved guns were posted.
Some users made a point of mentioning how senior Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal spent the recent Gaza war in his hotel room in Doha. One wrote: "Are your brave billionaire 'leaders' still urging you and your children to martyrdom from the luxury of a 5-star hotel in Qatar?"
Others tweeters chose to take things in a humorous direction. An image of a gunman in a white face mask with militant headband was posted with the caption: "What happens if he sneezes?"
Another wrote: "When is the Gaza City gay pride parade this year?" Homosexuality is taboo in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Another asked: "Will you be publicly executing the person that came up with the idea to (hashtag)AskHamas?"
Most of the questions went unanswered.
Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip contributed to this report.