Shalom Life | August 26, 2014

Hamas Official Inadvertently Admits to Kicking Out Journalists That Didn't Meet Their 'Standards'

“These journalists [who sought to film where rockets were being launched from] were deported from the Gaza Strip,” says Isra Al-Mudallal

By: Daniel Koren

Published: August 15th, 2014 in News » Israel

Hamas Official Inadvertently Admits to Kicking Out Journalists That Didn't Meet Their 'Standards'

During an interview with Lebanese-based al-Mayadeen TV, the head of Hamas' Foreign Relations Information Ministry, Isra Al-Mudallal, inadvertently acknowledged several rumors that have spread since the start of Operation Protective Edge: that Hamas has been tampering with foreign journalists, and that their figures and statistics, notably concerning the death toll, aren't exactly spot on.

As translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, al-Mudallal said during the interview that “the coverage by foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip was insignificant compared to their coverage within the Israeli occupation (Israel).”

“Moreover,” she added, “the journalists who entered Gaza were fixated on the notion of peace and on the Israeli narrative.” She then accused the foreign press on only wanting to film "the places from where missiles were launched. Thus, they were collaborating with the occupation," implying that by seeking the truth, foreign journalists were being biased towards Israel.

The IDF have long asserted that Hamas were firing rockets from residential areas and nearby UNRWA schools.

Recently, only after they left Gaza, several foreign journalists confirmed these suspicions, with Indian NDTV journalist Sreenivasan Jain capturing footage of Hamas officials setting up a rocket in a densely populated civilian area in Gaza.

“These journalists were deported from the Gaza Strip,” said al-Mudallal. “The security agencies would go and have a chat with these people. They would give them some time to change their message, one way or another.

“We suffered from this problem very much,” she continued. “Some of the journalists who entered the Gaza Strip were under security surveillance. Even under these difficult circumstances, we managed to reach them, and tell them that what they were doing was anything but professional journalism and that it was immoral.”

Such rhetoric, though only now being admitted by Hamas, has long been argued by Israeli officials.

Last week, publications such as the New York Times and BBC recanted their previous condemnation of the IDF 'indiscriminately' targeting civilians, reporting “that some of the conclusions being drawn [from death-toll figures] may be premature.”

Anthony Reuben, Head of statistics for BBC, noted that, contrary to information presented by Hamas health officials, the number of civilian Gazan men outnumber the number of women by 3.5:1.

“If the Israeli attacks have been ‘indiscriminate,’ as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women,” he said.

As reported by the New York Times, which had previously published a few editorials that seemed to be founded on statistics only provided by Hamas-run health officials, "the population most likely to be militants, men ages 20 to 29, is also the most overrepresented in the death toll: They are 9 percent of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents, but 34 percent of those killed whose ages were provided. At the same time, women and children under 15, the least likely to be legitimate targets, were the most underrepresented, making up 71 percent of the population and 33 percent of the known-age casualties.”

Earlier this week, the Foreign Press Association, which represents foreign journalists working throughout Israel and the P.A., condemned Hamas' intimidation tactics, and not allowing honest reporting to be conducted within the area.

“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,” read the statement. “The international media are not advocacy organizations and cannot be prevented from reporting by means of threats or pressure, thereby denying their readers and viewers an objective picture from the ground."

The FPA also said they were aware that Hamas has been seeing to it which journalists were allowed to report from Gaza, adding that they "vehemently opposed" such a procedure.

"In several cases," the FPA stated, "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.”

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