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June 16, 2015

AFP on 17 Slain 'Journalists,' 'No Terrorists Here'

June 17 Update: AFP Corrects Regarding 17 'Journalists' Killed in Gaza

June 16 -- In an article today about a short video produced by the Israeli Foreign Ministry mocking journalists' coverage of the war last summer between Israel and Hamas, Agence France Presse parrots Palestinian propaganda about journalists killed in the fighting ("Israel ministry video lashes out at foreign journalists"):

Some 17 journalists were killed covering the July-August Gaza war. . .

The AFP does not attribute this claim to any source. The influential wire service does not inform readers that the figure is a Palestinian (Hamas) claim, disputed by Israel, which maintains that eight of the 17 were Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror operatives or were journalists who worked for Hamas media.

According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center ("Examination of the Names of 17 Journalists and Media Personnel Whom the Palestinians Claim Were Killed in Operation Protective Edge," Feb. 11, 2015):

About a week after the end of Operation Protective Edge the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate issued a list of 17 names, allegedly of journalists who had been killed in [the summer 2014 Gaza] operation. The list was published by the PA's Wafa News Agency, which received it from the Hamas-controlled Gaza office of the ministry of information.

Among the Hamas operatives counted by the Palestinian sources as among the 17 journalists killed was Abdallah Fadel Mortaja, a military operative in the Shejaiya battalion of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and a member of Hamas' "information office." In the YouTube clip below, he reads his last will in a Hamas produced video (uploaded Oct. 30, 2014).

UNESCO, which originally had identifed Murtaja as a "Palestinian journalist" in an Aug. 29 statement condemning his death, commendably followed up with this commendable Nov. 14, 2014 statement:

On 14 November, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, issued an update about the statement she issued on 29 August, 2014, regarding Abdullah Murtaja, in the context of UNESCO’s mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom.

The original statement issued on 29 August was in line with UNESCO’s policy of condemning all killings of journalists. During this week, information has been brought to the attention of UNESCO that Mr Murtaja was a member of an organized armed group -- an active combatant, and, therefore, not a civilian journalist. This has come to light in a video was posted recently on the Internet with Abdullah Murtaja speaking as a member of an organized armed group.

UNESCO therefore withdraws the statement of 29 August.

“I deplore attempts to instrumentalize the profession of journalists by combatants," declared Irina Bokova. “The civilian status of journalists is critical, especially in situations of conflict, to ensure the free flow of information and ideas that are essential to the wider public and the restoration of stability and peace,? declared the Director-General.

Other "journalists" included in the list of 17 and exposed as Palestinian combatants include Ezat Salameh Doheir (shown below wearing an Islamic Jihad cap and holding an M-16 rifle) and Suleiman Muhammad Marouf (his death notice, issued by Islamic Jihad, follows the image of Doheir, and identifies him as a "jihad fighter shaheed.")

17 journalists Doheir.JPG

17 journalists Maroud.JPG

During the November 2012 conflict in Gaza, AFP steadfastly refused to retract a false Hamas propaganda claim which the agency had reported as fact, despite overwhelming evidence which prompted numerous other media outlets to correct.

CAMERA has asked AFP editors to publish a clarification making clear that though Hamas and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate has asserted that 17 journalists were killed, their list includes the names of eight Hamas and Islamic Jihad combatants and operatives.

If AFP fails to issue a clarification, the quip by the apparently foreign journalist featured in the Israeli Foreign Ministry's video (below) criticizing media coverage -- "there are no terrorists here, just ordinary people" -- might have well been issued by the AFP bureau.

Posted by TS at June 16, 2015 07:40 AM


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