(October 15, 2018 / JNS)
Since March, the Gazan border has played host to a series of violent demonstrations. Thousands of rioters, some of whom are armed with hand grenades, Molotov cocktails and slingshots, regularly amass along the border. As a whole, major media outlets have failed to accurately and objectively cover the events of the so-called “March of Return,” and as a result, the truth surrounding the events of the last several months has been largely obfuscated.
Enter Joseph Truzman, known on Twitter simply as “Joe.” What began as a hobby of tracking and documenting various Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip has become the “go to” source for objective coverage of the ongoing clashes in the enclave.
“What I do is all about showing what is [happening] on the ground without advocating,” said Truzman, who works from Oregon. “I want a good representation of the facts on the ground.”
Truzman, who daily tweets dozens photos, videos and statements from the various factions in the Gaza Strip, has garnered attention from high-profile journalists and, more notably, high-ranking Israeli officials who regularly share his content on their own social media pages.
Joe was tight-lipped on how he gathers his information. “I can’t reveal the secrets to my recipe,” he joked. He went on to say that protecting the identity of his sources, especially of those in Gaza, is of the utmost importance. In the Hamas-controlled strip, these informants risk death when they share information that may expose the militants’ tactics to the outside world.
Truzman has followed Israeli security affairs since childhood, specifically those related to Gaza.
“I read books on the Yom Kippur War and Israeli security services as a kid,” he said.
Truzman’s childhood passion was palpable through the phone as he recalled every detail of a story he had read about Israeli operatives infiltrating Gazan militant leadership, entering the country by sea and posing as Palestinians from Lebanon. His attention to detail is evident in his work today. In spite of the platform’s notorious brevity, Truzman manages to share content that is both digestible and revealing.
In the coming months, Truzman expects to release new content with the hope of making the information from the border more accessible to his followers.
“From my own take, the border [violence] isn’t going to stop any time soon,” said Truzman. “I plan on doing this for a long time.”
Perhaps one of the most significant motivating factors for Truzman’s commitment to the subject has been what he calls the “downright awful” coverage of the ongoing situation by major media outlets.
“When I started,” said Truzman, who has collected more than 4,200 followers over the last eight months, “I was surprised at the lack of information going into some of these stories. As far as the journalists covering it, they’re not doing their jobs—I almost feel like they don’t really care. A lot of times, I’ve found that they’re just flat-out wrong.”
Where journalists failed, Truzman has succeeded in providing objective, well-researched coverage of the ongoing border riots. For example, on Sept. 29, an article from the Guardian reported that the increasing number of gatherings being held at night are “to save lives as people can move under the cover of darkness,” omitting, as Truzman had reported nearly a week prior to the article’s publication, that the purpose of these “night-time confusion” units is to regularly launch incendiary balloons and explosives towards Israel.
“Staying objective is a learning process,” he said. “I always think about my posts; I think about how it will be received by everyone out there. You can remain as neutral as possible, you’re still going to get people who don’t like [your content].”
In spite of the occasional criticism, Joe’s impartiality has led both Israelis and Palestinians to reach out and express their thanks to him.
“I have Palestinians who message me saying good job; I have Israelis who message me saying good job. I think that means I’m doing something right.”
To keep up with the latest from the Gaza border, follow Joe Truzman on Twitter @Jtruzmah.
Liel Asulin is a writer and educator. He is a Campus Coordinator with CAMERA.