December 6, 2023

Well this raises some ethical questions, and I would like to hear these news organizations explain exactly what happened here.

Most of the images we have from the 10/7 Hamas attacks in Israel come from the Hamas terrorists themselves, who were quite proud to show the world what vicious rapists and murderers they are.

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But there are also on-the-scene photos taken by employees or stringers for the major media outlets, who just so happened to be there when Hamas breached the border and started their rampage.

Was it a coincidence? Seems a stretch.

These photographers were there from the beginning or arrived within a short period of time. They also moved freely among the terrorists, and were able to catch some of the action as it happened.

Were they tipped off? Almost certainly. Were they complicit? That is a more complicated question.

On October 7, Hamas terrorists were not the only ones who documented the war crimes they had committed during their deadly rampage across southern Israel. Some of their atrocities were captured by Gaza-based photojournalists working for the Associated Press and Reuters news agencies whose early morning presence at the breached border area raises serious ethical questions.

What were they doing there so early on what would ordinarily have been a quiet Saturday morning? Was it coordinated with Hamas? Did the respectable wire services, which published their photos, approve of their presence inside enemy territory, together with the terrorist infiltrators? Did the photojournalists who freelance for other media, like CNN and The New York Times, notify these outlets? Judging from the pictures of lynching, kidnapping and storming of an Israeli kibbutz, it seems like the border has been breached not only physically, but also journalistically.

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Serious ethical questions is a nice way of putting it.

First of all, as I have noted before, none of these reporters or photographers could be “journalisming” without Hamas’ approval. Hamas is not dedicated to freedom of the press, don’t care a whit about Western ideals, and make it very clear that you must toe the line or lose your toe, so to speak.

So you already have to assume that the “journalists” who work in the Strip day in day out are Hamas sympathizers. That need not be the case with journalists who parachute in and evacuate quickly, but even there Hamas probably has veto power over who is safe to come.

All the news services know this. For God’s sake, the New York Times employs a literal Nazi sympathizer as a reporter.

When asked about hiring him, the Times responded:

A Times spokesperson defended the outlet’s decision to rehire Hijjy.

“We reviewed problematic social media posts by Mr. Hijjy when they first came to light in 2022 and took a variety of actions to ensure he understood our concerns and could adhere to our standards if he wished to do freelance work for us in the future,” the rep said.

…

“Mr. Hijjy followed those steps and has maintained high journalistic standards. He has delivered important and impartial work at great personal risk in Gaza during this conflict.”

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So everybody in the business knows that the “reporters” in Gaza are Hamas shills, although none of these news sources let their readers and viewers in on the secret.

This photo, for instance, was taken during the attacks by an AP photographer in the early stages of the attack.

AP Photo/Hassan Eslaiah

He pretty clearly was tipped off or was embedded with the terrorists.

Other photojournalists who do work for the New York Times and CNN caught photos of actual atrocities taking place, right there in the middle of the action. Right along with the terrorists.

Reuters has published pictures from two photojournalists who also happened to be at the border just in time for Hamas’ infiltration: Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa and Yasser Qudih.

They both took pictures of a burning Israeli tank on the Israeli side of the border, but Abu Mustafa went further: He took photos of a lynch mob brutalizing the body of an Israeli soldier who was dragged out of the tank.

Reuters was kind enough to add a graphic warning to the photo caption, but it didn’t prevent editors from shamelessly labeling it as one of the “Images of the Day” on their editorial database.

The question isn’t whether the Western news sources had reason to believe that their photographers were embedded with Hamas–they surely suspected and probably knew for sure. The question is whether these news services knew beforehand, and if so what was their responsibility?

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Short answer, upon first reflection, is whether you see Hamas as a military fighting force or a group of terrorists. If the former, being embedded with the forces just makes sense, whatever you think of their cause. If you can hitch a ride with Iraqi tanks as they bear down on American forces, you probably should. That is what reporters do: report. I’d personally rather be on an American tank because I would not be as likely to die, but reporters shouldn’t be squeamish.

But if you see Hamas as terrorists–and indubitably they are–your responsibility is to warn the victims. If you know an atrocity is going to happen, not a battle in a war everybody is aware of, humanity demands you try to stop it.

Either way, when international news agencies decide to pay for material that has been captured under such problematic circumstances, their standards may be questioned and their audience deserves to know about it. And if their people on the ground actively or passively collaborated with Hamas to get the shots, they should be called out to redefine the border between journalism and barbarism.

If there is any chance the news organizations knew about the attack beforehand, they had a responsibility to warn people. If they employ people who knew it was going to happen, they should be identified and fired.

It was a crime against humanity. Rape. Murder. Torture. Beheadings.

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I may despise reporters who sympathize with Hamas, but as long as people know their loyalties they have as much right to report as anybody else. But participating, even passively, in atrocities is not reporting.

It is complicity with murder.