Last month, the Associated Press reported that the Hamas Interior Ministry in Gaza issued a directive to foreign journalists forbidding them from covering the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) rocket misfires responsible for most of the civilians killed in Gaza.
The IDF determined that during three days last month, the PIJ fired more than 1,100 rockets at Israel. Of those, about 200, or one in five PIJ rockets, landed inside Gaza. 47 Palestinians were killed in the conflict fighting — at least 14 of them by Islamic Jihad-fired rockets that fell short. Ironically, two Hamas operatives were killed by PIJ rockets, meaning that the PIJ killed more Hamas terrorists than by IDF operations.
The directives also required journalists to be accompanied by “local sponsors,”; Palestinian journalists or translators hired by the news outlet. The sponsors were warned that they would be held responsible for their ward’s reporting, which must “demonstrate national spirit, defend the Palestinian narrative and reject the foreigner’s bias to the Israeli narrative.” They were also required to inform Hamas of “any suspicious behavior or illogical questions” along with a full accounting of what the journalists did and reported.
AP also noted that Palestinians are barred from giving interviews to Israeli outlets. An AP report on the PIJ rockets killing Gazan civilians significantly noted that “no one in Gaza with direct knowledge of the explosions in question was willing to speak about them publicly.”
The Foreign Press Association, which represents international media, including The Associated Press, said the guidelines were rescinded after discussions with authorities in Gaza.
The FPA said in a statement that “such a move would have constituted a severe, unacceptable and unjustifiable restriction on the freedom of the press, as well as the safety of our colleagues in Gaza.”
Despite reportedly rescinding the directive, AP noted that by issuing it, Hamas “signaled its expectations, which could have a chilling effect on critical coverage.”
The article compared Hamas’ gag order to Israel’s military censor, which restricts the dissemination of information that may imperil ongoing operations.
Reporting in Gaza is biased as the New York Times has been forced to cut ties with at least three freelancers in Gaza who posted to social media praising Hitler. One freelance journalist, Fady Hanona, who also worked for the BBC, The Guardian, and VICE News, cited Hitler in urging PIJ to continue firing missiles at Israeli cities.
“As Hitler said, give me a Palestinian soldier and a German weapon, and I will make Europe crawl on its fingertips,” Hanona’s post read. “The Jews are sons of the dogs… I am in favor of killing them and burning them like Hitler did. I will be so happy,” he said.
Again, Soliman Hijjy, a freelance filmmaker whose work has been featured by the Times between 2018 and 2021, praised Adolf Hitler in a 2012 Facebook post, writing “How great you are, Hitler” in Arabic, according to Akiva Van Koningsveld, editor of the pro-Israel media watchdog HonestReporting. The NYT also cut ties with freelance photographer Hosam Salem who praised a 2011 bus bombing in Jerusalem that killed two and injured 39.
The AP report comes at a time when Israel is the target of heavy criticism after an IDF probe concluded that it was a “high probability” an Israeli soldier accidentally killed veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh nearly four months ago. Israel has been facing baseless accusations since Abu Akleh’s death, with some claiming that it was intentional.
It should be noted that Nadal Ijbaria, an Arab-Israeli journalist who reported on violent crimes in the Arab community, was shot dead in his car in Umm al-Fahm in Northern Israel on Sunday evening. Ijbaria’s murder has not been reported outside of Israel.