Israel war: How Hamas terrorists used little-known social media platform to spread messages

Israel war: How Hamas terrorists used little-known social media platform to spread messages

October 09, 2023 05:06 PM

Telegram has become an outlet for Hamas terrorists to share their videos, statements, and other information as social media platforms have blocked accounts aligned with the terrorist organization.

The messaging platform is not well known in the United States but boasts 700 million monthly users, according to its creators. It allows for secure direct messaging, group chats, and channels, becoming a hotbed for content and information from the front lines of combat.


Hamas has used its Telegram channel to post videos from its attack on Israel on Saturday and subsequent violence, according to NBC News. The outlet also reported that it has a significant following on its Telegram channel.

The messaging platform has been used to share graphic footage from the conflict in Israel, including of a woman being kidnapped at a music festival near the Israeli border with Gaza. The platform was also used by Hamas to send out a statement saying the group would begin executing civilian hostages for every unannounced attack on Gaza.

Josh Lipowsky, research analyst for the Counter Extremism Project, told the Washington Examiner that much of what Hamas posts on the platform is available on its website but that when its website is down, it provides it the ability to continue its “propaganda push.”

“Hamas utilizes Telegram channels in Arabic and English to further spread its propaganda through distribution of the group’s press releases and statements to thousands of subscribers to those channels. Much of what appears on the channels is taken directly from Hamas’s website, offering another direct method of pushing out its releases to followers who, given the nature of Telegram, have specifically sought out the group,” Lipowsky said.

“As of earlier this afternoon, Hamas’s main website, both the Arabic and English versions, is down, hindering Hamas’s ability to push out its message at a time it is trying to control the narrative of its vicious attack,” he added. “The Telegram channels provide Hamas with redundancies to continue their propaganda push across platforms.”

Telegram emphasizes that its platform is secure for its messaging, both in groups and direct messages, saying it uses end-to-end encryption and has “disclosed 0 bytes of user data to third parties, including governments,” during its 10-year existence. The messaging platform was created in 2013 and has its development base in Dubai, but it says it is “ready to relocate again if local regulations change.”

The company in its FAQ page said it will take down public-facing content from terrorist groups but that it does not access private messages.

“While we do block terrorist (e.g. ISIS-related) bots and channels, we will not block anybody who peacefully expresses alternative opinions,” Telegram says on its website.


War footage and front-line updates have been circulated on the platform from the Ukrainian and Russian sides amid the war in Ukraine, but the war in Israel has put a new spotlight on Telegram.

Israel declared war against Hamas, the first time it had declared war since 1973, shortly after the attacks that saw more than 700 Israelis killed.