Israel Accuses Freelance Photographers of Advance Information of Oct. 7 Assault

Israel Accuses Freelance Photographers of Advance Information of Oct. 7 Assault

The Israeli authorities on Thursday accused freelance photographers for a number of main information organizations, together with The New York Occasions, of being “accomplices” within the killing and abductions of Israeli troopers and civilians by Hamas fighters — an allegation The Occasions vigorously denied about its freelancer.

The federal government seized on a report by a pro-Israel media watchdog group, Trustworthy Reporting, which has lengthy criticized The Occasions and different information organizations of anti-Israel bias of their protection of its battle with the Palestinians.

“These journalists have been accomplices in crimes towards humanity,” the general public diplomacy division of the prime minister’s workplace mentioned in a tersely worded assertion. “Their actions have been opposite to skilled ethics.”

In its report, the watchdog group questioned why six Gaza-based photographers, all of whom have been working for The Related Press and Reuters, have been early to doc the incursion by Hamas into Israel on Oct. 7. The journalists photographed an Israeli tank that had been destroyed on the border of the Gaza Strip, quickly after the militants broke by way of a fence and swarmed into Israeli territory.

It mentioned one of many photographers, Hassan Eslaiah, took footage of a home burning in Kibbutz Kfar Azza, a goal of the lethal assault by militants, whereas two others documented Hamas fighters transporting kidnapped Israelis again to Gaza. These harrowing photographs have been all printed by The Related Press, as was a Reuters photograph of a mob carrying the physique of an Israeli soldier.

Whereas a fourth A.P. photographer named within the report, Yousef Masoud, has labored as a freelancer for The Occasions since shortly after the battle started, he was not on task for the paper on the morning of Oct. 7, based on an announcement issued by The Occasions. The Occasions rejected strategies that it had advance warning of the assaults or had accompanied Hamas terrorists, calling the claims “unfaithful and outrageous.” It additionally mentioned there was “no proof for Trustworthy Reporting’s insinuations” about Mr. Masoud.

“It’s reckless to make these allegations, placing our journalists on the bottom in Israel and Gaza in danger,” the assertion mentioned. “The Occasions has extensively coated the Oct. 7 assaults and the battle with equity, impartiality, and an abiding understanding of the complexities of the battle.”

The Occasions mentioned it had reviewed Mr. Masoud’s work for The Related Press on Oct. 7 and decided that “he was doing what photojournalists all the time do throughout main information occasions, documenting the tragedy because it unfolded.”

In its overview of Mr. Masoud’s work, editors at The Occasions decided that the primary photograph he transmitted to the A.P. — of the destroyed Israeli tank — was taken greater than 90 minutes after the assault started, based on an editor at The Occasions who spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate an inside matter. Mr. Masoud advised his editors, this individual mentioned, that he was woken at residence in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, by the sound of rocket fireplace, shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Mr. Masoud mentioned he later made his approach to the border, the place he noticed the fence had been breached and that an Israeli tank had been destroyed. He advised Occasions editors, the individual mentioned, that he didn’t linger in Israel and didn’t {photograph} abductees or acts of brutality by Hamas fighters.

The furor over the Gaza photographers is a part of a broader data battle that has raged alongside the precise battle. Claims and counterclaims, typically primarily based on doctored photographs or disinformation, pop up every day on social media websites, with a objective of tilting the general public narrative in a single course or the opposite.

A declare by Hamas final month that an Israeli navy strike hit the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza Metropolis, killing 500 individuals, was reported by The Occasions, BBC, CNN, and different information organizations. Israeli and American intelligence companies later contended that the explosion had been brought on by a wayward Palestinian rocket.

An added problem for Western information organizations in masking the battle is that their employees correspondents and photographers have very restricted entry to Gaza. Israel has prevented journalists from coming into the territory besides when accompanied by its navy, and Egypt has additionally blocked entry. Hamas, which controls Gaza, locations sweeping restrictions on what reporters can cowl. Because of this, most retailers depend on native reporters and photographers who dwell within the enclave.

Trustworthy Reporting mentioned it stood by its reporting. “If The New York Occasions can defend the correct of photojournalists to doc the atrocities of Oct. 7,” it mentioned in an announcement, “as a media watchdog, we’ve a accountability to query the position performed by the photographers that day.”

The Related Press mentioned it, too, had no advance information of the assault. Nevertheless it mentioned in an announcement that it was now not working with Mr. Eslaiah, who filed the earliest and most intensive photographs of the assault.

There have been different crimson flags about Mr. Eslaiah. He posed for an image being kissed by Yahya Sinwar, a Hamas chief who masterminded the assault. Amit Segal, an Israeli journalist, posted video on X, previously often known as Twitter, that he claimed confirmed Mr. Eslaiah using in Israel on a bike whereas carrying a hand grenade.

Mr. Eslaiah confirmed in an interview that he had been given a trip again to Gaza from Israel however mentioned he was not the individual carrying the grenade. He mentioned he had no advance information of the assault and had no hyperlinks to Hamas, regardless of the photograph with Mr. Sinwar. “I’m very apprehensive and scared,” he mentioned.

Mr. Eslaiah steered there was a double customary, noting that Israeli journalists had accompanied the Israel Protection Forces into Gaza to cowl their floor operation. “Why are we not allowed, and they’re allowed?” he mentioned.

In an announcement, CNN, which has additionally employed Mr. Eslaiah, mentioned, “Whereas we’ve not right now discovered cause to doubt the journalistic accuracy of the work he has executed for us, we’ve determined to droop all ties with him.”

Equally, Reuters mentioned it “categorically denies that it had prior information of the assault or that we embedded journalists with Hamas on Oct. 7.”

The information company mentioned that it acquired the photographs from two Gaza-based photographers, with whom it didn’t have a previous relationship, and that they’d been taken “two hours after Hamas fired rockets over southern Israel and greater than 45 minutes after Israel mentioned gunmen had crossed the border.”

It isn’t the primary time that Trustworthy Reporting has raised questions on a contract worker of The Occasions from Gaza. Soliman Hijjy, a contract filmmaker who lately contributed a video report on the bombing of Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, got here beneath criticism for a publish on Fb in 2012 wherein he shared a meme that appeared to reward Adolf Hitler.

The Occasions declined to debate his case, citing a number of points, together with security issues. In an announcement to Trustworthy Reporting final month, the paper mentioned that in 2022 it had mentioned this and different “problematic” social media posts with Mr. Hijjy, and that he had pledged to stick to the paper’s requirements. The Occasions mentioned he had executed so, delivering “essential and neutral work at nice private threat in Gaza throughout this battle.”

Iyad Abuheweila contributed reporting from Cairo.

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Written by bourbiza mohamed

Bourbiza Mohamed is a freelance journalist and political science analyst holding a Master's degree in Political Science. Armed with a sharp pen and a discerning eye, Bourbiza Mohamed contributes to various renowned sites, delivering incisive insights on current political and social issues. His experience translates into thought-provoking articles that spur dialogue and reflection.

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