As the Israel-Hamas war continues, a fresh revelation about the conflict has come forward, paving the way for international uproar. Explosive claims have surfaced that the biggest media organizations like The New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters, and CNN might have had prior knowledge about the security breach and the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
Pro-Israel watchdog, Honest Reporting, has alleged that six freelancing photojournalists employed by major media outlets were present on-site during the Hamas assault. Honest Reporting said that it was “simply raising questions” if the very first images of the October 7 attack by Hamas had been tipped off in advance that it would happen.
Honest Reporting, which describes itself as an organization devoted to fighting media disinformation about Israel and Zionism, wrote on its website on November 8, “Is it conceivable to assume that journalists just happened to appear early in the morning at the border without prior coordination with the terrorists? Or were they part of the plan?”
The harrowing images captured by journalists included an Israeli tank destroyed at the border of the Gaza Strip soon after Hamas terrorists broke through a fence and swarmed into Israeli territory. One of the photographers also took pictures of a house burning in Kibbutz Kfar Azza, a target of the deadly attack by Hamas, while two others documented Hamas fighters transporting kidnapped Israelis back to Gaza.
The issue sparked outrage as the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office on November 9 accused the journalists of being, “accomplices in crimes against humanity,” calling their actions “contrary to professional ethics” and demanding action against the photographers.
Danny Danon, a member of Israel’s parliament, said, “The photojournalists who took part in recording the assault should be eliminated.” Meanwhile, the Government Press Office sent an urgent letter to the bureau chiefs of the media organizations that employed these photographers and sought clarification.
And here is footage of Eslaiah after he crossed into Israel and took photos of a burning Israeli tank. He then captured infiltrators entering Kibbutz Kfar Azza.
Note that he is not identifiable as a member of the press. But AP & CNN deemed it acceptable to use his services. pic.twitter.com/fA0VI2df2i
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 8, 2023
Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Gantz also condemned the photographers, posting on X, “If there were journalists who knew about the massacre [in advance], who remained silent and took pictures while children were being massacred, they are no different from the terrorists and their punishment is severe.”
On the other hand, the news outlets rushed to the photojournalists’ defense. They denied all claims of being “accomplices” of Hamas and having prior knowledge of the brutal attack. The Associated Press, Reuters, the New York Times, and CNN issued robust statements in response to questions about Palestinian photographers in Gaza, calling the suggestion untrue, outrageous, and reckless.
The New York Times said on November 10, ”There is no evidence for Honest Reporting’s insinuations.’’ It said freelance photojournalists in conflict areas often “rush into danger to provide first-hand witness accounts and to document important news. This is the essential role of a free press in wartime.”
Meanwhile, one of Honest Reporting’s accusations included two red flags about one photojournalist, Hassan Eslaiah, present at the site. Hassan once said on X, “Live from inside the Gaza Strip settlements,” and that there is a picture of him kissing a Hamas Leader. Following this, the Associated Press and CNN soon issued statements of cutting all ties with Hassan, a freelancer for many news organizations.
The current furor over the Gaza photojournalists is a part of the larger war of disinformation about Israel and Hamas that includes several global players. Doctored images and disinformation about the brutal attack on both sides surface daily.
A similar controversy arose several weeks back when an Israeli Military strike hit Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, killing 500 people, and was covered by all major news outlets. Israeli and American intelligence agencies later contended that the explosion was caused by a wayward Palestinian rocket.