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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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Protester Sets Self on Fire Outside Israeli Consulate in Atlanta

Illustrative. Anti-Israel protesters demonstrate outside AIPAC President Michael Tuchin’s vacation home in Los Angeles, Nov. 23, 2023. Photo: Screenshot

i24 NewsA protester was in critical condition on Friday after setting themself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. authorities said. A security guard who tried to intervene was also wounded.

A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of the protest, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said at a news conference. He added that investigators did not believe there was any connection to terrorism and none of the consular staff was ever in danger.

JUST IN: A pro-Palestine protester is in critical condition after they set themselves on fire in “political protest” outside of the Israeli Consulate office in Atlanta.

The protester was reportedly draped in a Palestine flag.

The protester has severe burns and unfortunately, a…

— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) December 1, 2023

“We do not see any threat here,” he said. “We believe it was an act of extreme political protest that occurred.” Everyone inside the consulate building was said to be safe.

Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the southeastern U.S., said: “We are saddened to learn of the self-immolation at the entrance to the office building. It is tragic to see the hate and incitement toward Israel expressed in such a horrific way.”

“The sanctity of life is our highest value. Our prayers are with the security officer who was injured while trying to prevent this tragic act. We are grateful to the city of Atlanta’s law enforcement and first responders for all they do to ensure safety.”

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Released Israeli Hostages Call for Captives to Be Freed

Relatives and supporters of hostages kidnapped on the deadly October 7 attack by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, rally for their release, after a temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas ended when the terrorist group broke it, in Tel Aviv, Israel, December 2, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Israeli hostages released in the past week by Hamas in Gaza called on Saturday for the immediate release of fellow captives left behind, a day after a temporary truce that had allowed scores to come home broke down.

Tens of thousands gathered at a rally in Tel Aviv outside Israel‘s defense headquarters, where they cheered Yelena Trupanov, 50, standing on a stage just two days after being freed.

“I came to thank you because without you I wouldn’t be here. Now we must bring back my (son) Sasha, and everyone. Now.”

Similar pleas from other released hostages were shown on video.

A seven-day truce, during which Hamas had released more than 100 hostages, collapsed on Friday after Hamas breached the ceasefire.

Israel said on Saturday it had recalled a Mossad intelligence agency team from Qatar, host of indirect negotiations with Hamas, accusing the Palestinian faction of reneging on a deal that would have freed all children and women held hostage.

More than 240 people – Israelis and foreign nationals – were abducted to Gaza on Oct 7. by Hamas terrorists who burst through the border with Israel and killed 1,200 people.

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IDF Foils Stabbing Attack Near Nablus in West Bank, Eliminates Terrorist

Illustrative. Palestinian attacker near Nablus hurls stones towards Israeli troops during clashes at a riot in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, May 5, 2017. Photo: Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.

i24 NewsThe Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported thwarting a stabbing attack on Saturday afternoon against reserve Battalion 7037 at the X junction near Nablus in the West Bank.

According to the IDF spokesperson, the event unfolded when the forces at the roadblock became suspicious of an individual approaching the barricade.

During the questioning process, the suspect suddenly drew a knife and advanced towards the IDF personnel.

ניסיון פיגוע דקירה אירע לפני זמן קצר לעבר כוח צה”ל במילואים מגדוד 7037 שפעל בחסם בצומת האיקס סמוך לעיר שכם שבמרחב חטיבת שומרון.

הכוח חשד במחבל שהגיע לחסם והחל לתחקר אותו, המחבל שלף סכין והחל להתקדם לעבר הכוח.
הלוחמים חתרו למגע והגיבו בירי לעבר המחבל שחוסל. אין נפגעים לכוחותינו.

— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) December 2, 2023

The soldiers, faced with the threat, engaged in contact procedures and ultimately responded by opening fire on the assailant. The spokesperson confirmed that the attacker was neutralized due to the IDF’s action.

It was also noted that there were no casualties among the IDF forces involved in the incident. According to the spokesperson, the situation at the X junction has stabilized, and IDF continues to maintain vigilance in the area to prevent further attacks.

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