The Foreign Press Association has issued a definitive statement condemning Hamas’s treatment of journalists throughout the Gaza war.
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.
The international media are not advocacy organisations and cannot be prevented from reporting by means of threats or pressure, thereby denying their readers and viewers an objective picture from the ground.
In several cases, 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.
We are also aware that Hamas is trying to put in place a “vetting” procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists. Such a procedure is vehemently opposed by the FPA.
The statement comes a few days after Hamas announced new procedures for foreign reporters to obtain press credentials in Gaza. The statement refers to this new procedure in the last paragraph as a “vetting” process.
According to the Jerusalem Post, some reporters have been sent out of Gaza because they did not conform to Hamas’s standards or reporting:
On Sunday, Paul T. Jørgensen of Norway’s TV2 reported that “several foreign journalists have been kicked out of Gaza because Hamas does not like what they wrote or said.
“We have received strict orders that if we record that Hamas fires rockets or that they shoot, we will face serious problems and be expelled from Gaza,” Jørgensen added.
Haaretz reporter Anshel Pfeffer, however, noted that nearly all the journalists he spoke to said they were able to report without Hamas intimidation. “All but a few journalists deny there was any such pressure,” he wrote, adding a quote from a “seasoned war reporter”:
“I wasn’t intimidated at any point,” says one seasoned war reporter. “I didn’t feel Hamas were a threat to my welfare any more than Israeli bombings. I’m aware some people had problems, but nothing beyond what you would expect covering a conflict. Hamas’s levels of intimidation weren’t any worse than what you occasionally experience at the hands of the IDF, which didn’t allow access to fighting for most of the conflict either. As a rule no armed forces permit you to broadcast militarily sensitive information.”
Pfeffer also included “off the record” comments from reporters who described Hamas members preventing reporters from taking photos, but claimed these were “isolated cases.”
A number of reporters have said off the record that Hamas officials summoned one photographer and warned him that they would confiscate his camera if he didn’t delete a certain picture. There are also reports of fighters brandishing rifles to prevent photographers from taking their picture, but all the reporters insist these were isolated cases.