Several Western journalists working in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge have been harassed and threatened by Hamas for reporting cases of the involvement of civilians in warfare against Israel.
The Times of Israel
has confirmed several incidents in which journalists were questioned and threatened, among them photographers who had filmed Hamas terrorists preparing to shoot rockets from within civilian structures, and/or fighting in civilian clothing. The photographers were then harassed by Hamas operatives who seized their equipment. Several Western journalists have posted and then removed tweets critical of Hamas, while others have been prevented by Hamas from leaving Gaza.
Are foreign journalists, under constant threat from Hamas, in effect censoring themselves? Is this why we don’t see coverage of Hamas terrorists firing rockets from civilian areas, the use of human shields and other war crimes?The Washington Post
reprinted a list of 40 questions that are worth posing to foreign correspondents in Gaza, originally published on 31 July in the well-known British blog Harry's Place
. Among the questions asked:
- Have you or any of your colleagues been intimidated by Hamas?
- Do you feel restricted in your ability to 'say what you see' in Gaza?
- Are you scared to publish photos of Hamas operatives on your Twitter page, or broadcast images of Hamas fighting and aggression on your news channel?
- Is international media reporting from Gaza free from pressure and intimidation, or is there a real problem?
- Can live journalism by reporters who are scared of retaliation from the authorities they are reporting about really count as pure journalism, or is journalism in that context fundamentally compromised?
Israeli filmmaker Michael Grynszpan described on Facebook
an exchange he had had with a Spanish journalist on 30 July:
"I met today with a Spanish journalist who just came back from Gaza. We talked about the situation there. He was very friendly. I asked him how come we never see on television channels reporting from Gaza any Hamas people, no gunmen, no rocket launcher, no policemen. We only see civilians on these reports, mostly women and children. He answered me frankly : "It's very simple, we did see Hamas people there launching rockets, they were close to our hotel, but if ever we dare pointing our camera on them they would simply shoot at us and kill us." In spite of widespread intimidation and even forced censorship, some foreign correspondents reporting from Gaza have nevertheless given eye-witness testimonies about Hamas' exploitation of Gaza civilian population as human shields.
Finnish journalist Aishi Zidan, representing Helsingin Sanomat , reported on 1 August about rockets fired from the parking lot of the Shifa hospital, Gaza's main medical center.