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Hamas launches #AskHamas informational Twitter campaign

March 14, 2015 9:50 A.M. (Updated: July 26, 2015 3:23 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas launched a campaign on Twitter Friday aimed at improving transparency and reaching out to English social media users.

The movement said its English-language initiative #AskHamas was designed so officials could answer questions from social media users.

The campaign was timed to coincide with the deadline for a European Union appeal against removing the group from the EU's terror list, Hamas said.

A European court in December ordered the removal of Hamas from the bloc's terror list, but the European Union said it would appeal the decision within three months.

"The #AskHamas campaign ... will begin Friday and continue for five days," said an Arabic-language statement posted on Hamas media official Taher al-Nunu's Facebook page.

"It is aimed to send a message to the European public ... which demonstrated its solidarity with the Palestinian cause ... that Hamas is not a terrorist movement, but a nationalist liberation movement."

The official referenced the solidarity shown through demonstrations in European capitals against Israel's July-August assault on Gaza.

The war killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 73 Israelis, mostly soldiers, left 100,000 Gazans homeless, and large swathes of the territory in ruins.

Nunu posted a link to Twitter account @HamasInfoEn, which showed pictures of the officials who would be answering questions, including the movement's most senior leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.

"Truth from the mouth of the horse," it tweeted.

On Friday evening, Hamas member of parliament Huda Naim began responding to questions on the thread.

Most questions related to the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation and Hamas' role in the resistance, while others focused on social issues like women's rights.

"Men and women hold same and equal positions here. Occupation killed 240 women, 520 kids in war," she said in one tweet, in response to a query alleging Hamas use of women and children as human shields.

"In fact, Jews are not the cause of our troubles. But Israeli occupation, which sieges Gaza and destroys West Bank, is," read another tweet.

But before the campaign even went live, some Twitter users were already posting mocking messages under the #AskHamas hashtag.

"If a tree falls in the woods, and there's no one to hear it fall, is it still Israel's fault?" one user asked.

Hamas had apparently expected online detractors to try to sabotage the campaign, tweeting that "Zionist propagandists will try to convince you that this is a rocket, not a tweet. Do not fall for that."

"I tried to answer even those sarcastic questions. I hope that the answers will raise awareness about Hamas and Palestine #AskHamas," Huda Naim said toward the end of the question session.

AFP contributed to this report.
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