A family of 11 previously reported dead in an Israeli air strike in Gaza has turned out to be false – further fuelling the unprecedented furore caused by the Tel Aviv based Foreign Press Association (FPA) issuing the following statement on 11 August slamming Hamas for its treatment of journalists during the current conflict:
“The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.
The international media are not advocacy organisations and cannot be prevented from reporting by means of threats or pressure, thereby denying their readers and viewers an objective picture from the ground.
In several cases, foreign reporters working in Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media.
We are also aware that Hamas is trying to put in place a “vetting” procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists. Such a procedure is vehemently opposed by the FPA.
The FPA has also been mildly critical of Israel as this release on 23 July indicated:
“The FPA strongly condemns deliberate official and unofficial incitement against journalists working to cover the current warfare under very difficult circumstances as well as forcible attempts to prevent journalists and TV crews from carrying out their news assignments. While we do not condone the use of invective by any side, outright attacks on journalists are absolutely unacceptable.
On Tuesday, IDF forces aimed live fire at the Al Jazeera offices in Gaza City. The offices are on the 11th floor of a known commercial centre. The IDF apologised claiming it was in error and said they would investigate the incident.
Also Tuesday, FPA member Firas Khatib of BBC Arabic was physically attacked and abused in the midst of a live feed on the Israeli side of the border. “
The FPA numbers some 480 members representing TV, radio, photojournalists and print media from 32 countries including Australia, Qatar, Brazil, Norway, China , USA. Austria, Dubai, Russia, Japan, Finland, South Africa, Denmark and Germany, Turkey, the UAE and the United Kingdom.
It represents amongst others Le Monde, The New York Times, Reuters, the Guangming Daily, CBS Television, the Associated Press, Der Spiegel, the BBC, Danish Broadcasting Corp. and Bloomberg News. On its website, the FPA lists Australian journalists Matt Brown (ABC) and John Lyons (The Australian) as members.
Paul T. Jørgensen of Norway’s TV2 states that:
“several foreign journalists have been kicked out of Gaza because Hamas does not like what they wrote or said. We have received strict orders that if we record that Hamas fires rockets or that they shoot, we will face serious problems and be expelled from Gaza,”
Alan Johnson reported in the Telegraph:
- The Wall Street Journal’s Nick Casey posted a photo of a Hamas spokesman being interviewed from a room in the hospital along with this tweet: “You have to wonder (with) the shelling how patients at Shifa hospital feel as Hamas uses it as a safe place to see media.” After “a flood of online threats”, the tweet was deleted.
- John Reed of The Financial Times was reportedly threatened after he tweeted about rockets being fired from the same hospital.”
Yet Jodi Rudoren, Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times – who was not in Gaza – tweeted:
“Every reporter I’ve met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense,”
It was a strange remark to make considering the above claims – and having regard to the following comment reportedly made by New York Times vice president for corporate communications Eileen Murphy that the newspaper’s team in Gaza did not photograph any rocket launches, sent only “two very distant, poor quality images that were captioned Hamas fighters” and “hasn’t even seen anyone carrying a gun.”
Even more intriguing – Rudoren’s deputy at the NYT – Isabel Kershner – was one of the FPA board members who approved the condemnatory statement. How could two colleagues from the same newspaper observing the same sequence of events come to such different conclusions?
British freelancer Harry Fear said he was asked to leave Gaza by three plainclothes Hamas officials at Al-Shifa Hospital – apparently for referring to rocket launches near his hotel. He reportedly said he did not feel any intimidation or interference.
Some reporters however reportedly received death threats. Sometimes, cameras were smashed. Reporters were prevented from filming anti-Hamas demonstrations where more than 20 Palestinians were shot dead by Hamas gunmen.
Evidence of Hamas controlling the flow of news is obvious in its failure to allow the media to:
- independently determine, separate and verify the number of civilian and Hamas deaths
- photograph any Hamas forces launching rockets from residential areas or civilians being used as human shields.
A BBC investigation has uncovered photos of dead children from earlier conflicts being passed off as casualties in the current conflict – being fed to gullible reporters to send around the World to even more gullible target audiences.
Why would reporters keep going back into Gaza to be so humiliated by Hamas?
They are certainly not reporting what is actually happening.
Maybe they should stay out of Gaza and let Hamas do its own media releases.
The media barons would certainly save a lot of money.
David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network.