Saturday, August 16, 2014

Journalists intimidated by Hamas

People have asked me "What's happening with Israel?" I have replied that no one has greater respect for human life than Israel. Hamas are terrorists, and have no respect for human life.

Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a founding member of Hamas, who converted to Christ and now lives in the United States, put it well. "Hamas does not care about the lives of Palestinians," he said. "It does not care about the lives of Israelis, or Americans. They do not care about their own lives. They consider dying for their ideology a way of worship."

I was ashamed when I saw an ITV newscaster shout at an Israeli spokesman. "You were told 17 times that that was a UN school," he said. "Why did you fire at it?" The man could only say they had not yet had time to complete an investigation, but that the Israel Defence Forces did not target civilians. It later turned out that the carnage at the Shati refugee camp was caused by a Hamas rocket which had gone adrift. Hamas rushed in, removed the debris, and blamed Israel.

Hamas have placed rocket launchers in the heart of populated areas. They have fired rockets from hospitals and schools. Foreign journalists in Gaza have been closely monitored by Hamas. I thought this was common knowledge. Apparently not. But the news is beginning to leak out.

 Alan Johnson,a professor of democratic theory and practice, senior research fellow at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre and senior research associate at the Foreign Policy Centre, writes in the Telegraph. He says a long Hamas record of shutting down news bureaux, arresting reporters and cameramen, confiscating equipment and beating journalists has already been documented by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The Foreign Press Association, he says, has now issued a protest about "blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox" intimidation of journalists in the Gaza Strip by Hamas. "In several cases," it says, "foreign reporters working in Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories." Hamas was "trying to put in place a vetting procedure."

I would invite you to read the article for yourself. You can see it here.

A Hamas Ministry of Interior video directed: "Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. . . always add 'innocent civilian' or 'innocent citizen' in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza."

Indian television broadcaster Sreenivasan Jain wrote - after leaving Gaza - how Hamas placed civilians at risk by firing rockets "deep from the heart of civilian zones." How often, he asked, did they not report such things for fear of reprisals against them?

A Spanish journalist asked how television reporting never showed Hamas people, only civilians, mainly women and children, said "It's very simple. We did see Hamas people there launching rockets. . . but if we ever dare pointing our camera on them they would simply shoot at us and kill us."

French-Palestinian journalist Rudjaa Abou Dugga was forced to leave Gaza immediately, without his papers. RT correspondent Harry Fear was told to leave Gaza after tweeting that Hamas fired rockets into Israel from near his hotel.

In his article, Johnson quotes section 11.4.1 of the BBC guidelines on accuracy and impartiality: "We should normally say if our reports are censored or monitored or if we withhold information, and explain, wherever possible, the rules under which we are operating."

"Journalists from India, America, Norway, Italy, Spain, Australia, Canada and elsewhere," he says, "are complaining. Will we now hear from the Brits?"

I am waiting to see. But I'm not holding my breath.

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