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Gaza Photojournalists: Media Fail to Address Their Own Ethics and Morals

An aerial view shows the bodies of victims of an attack following a mass infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip lying on the ground in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, in southern Israel, Oct. 10, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Ilan Rosenberg

HonestReporting’s expose on the Gaza photojournalists who infiltrated Israel on October 7 has caught the attention of the global media. As the story spread, however, so did the pushback, including attacks on HonestReporting’s integrity and various charges from some of the media outlets we’d asked questions of.

But first, some background. It’s no secret that there are some very bad actors within the Palestinian media community. In 2022, HonestReporting’s investigative work exposed several journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as being virulent and unapologetic antisemites.

As a result of our reporting, several mainstream media outlets decided to cut ties with these reporters, at least indicating that there are red lines when it comes to media ethics and morality.

That was the point of our most recent story. We set out to shine a light on the conversation surrounding the media’s use of Palestinian stringers who, at best, operate in an environment controlled by Hamas, and at worst, are active accomplices.

And we did it not only in our role as a media monitoring organization. We approached it as Israelis. As Jews. As human beings. Because it’s impossible to separate anything from the horrific events of October 7, which appear to have faded so rapidly from the collective memory of the outside world and the media.

For Israelis, October 7 is an open and gaping wound, which is why, when we looked at photographs on an Associated Press carousel embedded in an online story last week, we were horrified and disgusted.

We were horrified to see images of a burning Israeli tank on the Israeli side of a border that had been breached by Hamas terrorists and, as it turned out, many “fellow travelers” who accompanied them. Disgusted to see that some of these images, including at least one of the body of German-Israel Shani Louk lying in the back of a truck, were attributed to Gaza photojournalists who were paid by media outlets for their images — images that could only have been captured inside Israel as the massacre was taking place.

There were so many unanswered questions and we decided to put them into the public sphere.

The Media Fire Back

The reaction to our story was swift. More damning evidence started to emerge, particularly concerning Hassan Eslaiah, one of the four Gaza photojournalists we’d flagged as being inside Israel. AP and CNN took steps to sever ties with him.

All of the media outlets involved — AP, CNN, Reuters, and The New York Times — publicly stated they had no prior knowledge of what was to occur on the morning of October 7. HonestReporting had not, however, accused any of those outlets of such an incomprehensibly appalling crime.

The New York Times doubled down in its backing of freelancer Yousef Masoud. Further question marks remain over Masoud’s explanation that he’d been woken up at 5.30 am by rocket fire even though the firing only started an hour later. This is unsurprising, given their backing of a decision to rehire Gazan freelance filmmaker Soliman Hijjy, despite HonestReporting previously revealing how he had praised Hitler on social media.

Hey @nytimes, do you have an explanation as to how Yousef Masoud was woken by rockets “shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning” when they hadn’t been fired yet? The first rockets were fired around an hour later at 6:30 a.m.

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 10, 2023

Safety of the Media?

Reuters also responded, releasing a statement claiming that HonestReporting had jeopardized the safety of all media working in Israel and the Palestinian territories. This is a deliberate attempt to deflect from the real issues we raised.

Those of us living in Israel during the Second Intifada of the early 2000s will remember the antagonism surrounding the international media coverage at the time. But lynch mobs of angry Israelis were not something that foreign journalists had to contend with. Nor is it likely to be an occupational hazard today.

The real danger to life is not to journalists, but rather to Israelis and Jews around the world as a result of inflammatory reporting by those very media outlets that are now trying to portray themselves as victims.

The most prominent example of this was the media’s rush to charge Israel with carrying out an airstrike on the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza. This had very real consequences for Jewish communities now being subjected to rising antisemitism in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere.

As media coverage inflames such sentiments, how dare the media complain about their own safety from the comfort of the Jewish state? Israel is a highly prized posting for foreign journalists where they can operate under the freedom of the press and take advantage of all the perks that living in Israel brings. The angry statements of some Israeli officials and media influencers in the aftermath of our story pale into insignificance compared to the dangers posed by the terrorist regime that rules the Gaza Strip.

Let’s consider what would have happened had it been Israeli journalists covering the massacre on the scene. Let’s assume they would be dressed in protective press vests making them identifiably members of the media.

Would Hamas terrorists have treated them any differently to the Israelis they brutalized that day? Would press credentials have protected them from death or kidnap? We know the probable answer.

Those Gaza photojournalists who infiltrated on October 7 were not under threat from Hamas. Because they were Gazans. Because they were considered to be on the same side. And because Hamas itself went to great lengths to document their crimes. Allowing those photojournalists to be there to capture events was completely in keeping with Hamas’ modus operandi that day. Whether they intended to or not, those photojournalists became part of the story.

We can only begin to imagine what images are still sitting on memory cards that were not offered to press agencies. Indeed, we’ve already had a taste of Hassan Eslaiah’s social media, as revealed in the Jerusalem Post, which described a video with his watermark: “Filmed by Hassan Eslaiah” in the center, depicting a room full of dead, bloody bodies.

Items on Gazan photojournalist Hassan Eslaiah’s Telegram indicate that not only did he likely know about the planned massacre before it began, but that he supported the deaths of the innocent Israelis he watched being murdered – via @Jerusalem_Post.

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 12, 2023

Despite what some media are trying to push, this is not a story about the safety of the press but of media ethics and transparency. There are clear complications surrounding freedom of the press in Gaza. While international news agencies want to work with local Gaza photojournalists or other Palestinian stringers, they owe their readers transparency. It needs to be made clear that these media workers are not operating under the same conditions as their Israeli counterparts and are potentially subject to external pressures, including an environment where anti-Israeli incitement is normalized. If the foreign media are so quick to call into question, to the point of open disdain, the information that the IDF or Israeli government provides, why are Palestinian sources not subject to the same level of cynicism, particularly when it is so clear who is ultimately in control of the narrative coming out of Gaza?

HonestReporting asked important questions. We don’t yet have all of the answers. But we’ve opened the discussion and it’s now up to the international media to get constructively involved rather than attempting to muddy the waters. It’s not only Israelis and Jews who deserve better but every media consumer today.

The author is the editorial director of HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis

Drones are seen at a site at an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on April 20, 2023. Photo: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

i24 NewsA senior Israeli security official spoke to i24NEWS on Saturday on condition of the retaliatory strike carried out by the Israel Air Force against the Houthi jihadists in Yemen.

“This is an important operation which signals that there’s room for further escalation, and sends a very strong message to the entire Shiite axis.”

“We understood there is a high probability of counter attacks, but if we do not respond, the meaning is even worse. Israel has updated the US prior to the operation.”

The strike on Hodeida came after long-range Iranian-made drone hit a building in central Tel Aviv, killing one man and wounded several others.

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IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida

Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi addresses followers via a video link at the al-Shaab Mosque, formerly al-Saleh Mosque, in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

i24 NewsThe Israeli military on Saturday confirmed striking a port in Yemen controlled by the Houthi jihadists, a day after the Iranian proxy group perpetrated a deadly drone attack on Tel Aviv.

“A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck military targets of the Houthi terrorist regime in the area of the Al Hudaydah Port in Yemen in response to the hundreds of attacks carried out against the State of Israel in recent months.”

After Houthi drone attack on Tel Aviv, reports and footage out of Yemen of air strikes hitting Hodeida

— Video used in accordance with clause 27A of Israeli copyright law

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, issued a statement saying “The fire that is currently burning in Hodeidah, is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear. The Houthis attacked us over 200 times. The first time that they harmed an Israeli citizen, we struck them. And we will do this in any place where it may be required.”

“The blood of Israeli citizens has a price,” Gallant added. “This has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen, and in other places – if they will dare to attack us, the result will be identical.”

Gallant: ‘The fire currently burning in Hodeida is seen across the region and the significance is clear… The blood of Israeli citizens has a price, as has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen and in other places – if they dare attack us, the result will be identical.’

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

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One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after attending a military parade to mark the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup, in the Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, in the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus July 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Greek Cypriots mourned and Turkish Cypriots rejoiced on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of part of the island after a brief Greek inspired coup, with the chances of reconciliation as elusive as ever.

The ethnically split island is a persistent source of tension between Greece and Turkey, which are both partners in NATO but are at odds over numerous issues.

Their differences were laid bare on Saturday, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending a celebratory military parade in north Nicosia to mark the day in 1974 when Turkish forces launched an offensive that they call a “peace operation.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due later on Saturday to attend an event in the south of the Nicosia to commemorate what Greeks commonly refer to as the “barbaric Turkish invasion.” Air raid sirens sounded across the area at dawn.

Mitsotakis posted an image of a blood-stained map of Cyprus on his LinkedIn page with the words “Half a century since the national tragedy of Cyprus.”

There was jubilation in the north.

“The Cyprus Peace Operation saved Turkish Cypriots from cruelty and brought them to freedom,” Erdogan told crowds who gathered to watch the parade despite stifling midday heat, criticizing the south for having a “spoiled mentality” and seeing itself as the sole ruler of Cyprus.

Peace talks are stalled at two seemingly irreconcilable concepts – Greek Cypriots want reunification as a federation. Turkish Cypriots want a two-state settlement.

Erdogan left open a window to dialogue although he said a federal solution, advocated by Greek Cypriots and backed by most in the international community, was “not possible.”

“We are ready for negotiations, to meet, and to establish long-term peace and resolution in Cyprus,” he said.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, but a shared administration between Greek and Turkish Cypriots quickly fell apart in violence that saw Turkish Cypriots withdraw into enclaves and led to the dispatch of a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The crisis left Greek Cypriots running the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union since 2004 with the potential to derail Turkey’s own decades-long aspirations of joining the bloc.

It also complicates any attempts to unlock energy potential in the eastern Mediterranean because of overlapping claims. The region has seen major discoveries of hydrocarbons in recent years.


Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, whose office represents the Greek Cypriot community in the reunification dialogue, said the anniversary was a somber occasion for reflection and for remembering the dead.

“Our mission is liberation, reunification and solving the Cyprus problem,” he said. “If we really want to send a message on this tragic anniversary … it is to do anything possible to reunite Cyprus.”

Turkey, he said, continued to be responsible for violating human rights and international law over Cyprus.

Across the south, church services were held to remember the more than 3,000 people who died in the Turkish invasion.

“It was a betrayal of Cyprus and so many kids were lost. It wasn’t just my son, it was many,” said Loukas Alexandrou, 90, as he tended the grave of his son at a military cemetery.

In Turkey, state television focused on violence against Turkish Cypriots prior to the invasion, particularly on bloodshed in 1963-64 and in 1967.

Turkey’s invasion took more than a third of the island and expelled more than 160,000 Greek Cypriots to the south.

Reunification talks collapsed in 2017 and have been at a stalemate since. Northern Cyprus is a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey, and its Turkish Cypriot leadership wants international recognition.

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