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January 16, 2017

If Hamas Assaults a Journalist, Does it Even Make the News?

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On. Jan. 12, 2017, Hamas, the U.S.-designated terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, assaulted an Agence France-Press (AFP) photographer and detained—at gunpoint—an Associated Press journalist. Western media outlets largely ignored the violence against members of the press.

The unidentified photographer and journalist were covering a protest in which “thousands” of Palestinians “took to the streets…to protest chronic power cuts in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip,” the AP reported (“In Rare Demonstration, Thousands Protest Power Cuts in Gaza,” Jan. 12, 2017).

Hamas blocked journalists attempting to cover the event and the AP journalist “was briefly detained at gunpoint until he handed over his mobile phones to plainclothes security men.”

The Foreign Press Association, which represents international media, reported that an AFP photographer was severely beaten in the head by Hamas members after he refused to hand over his camera.

Iyad Bozom, a Hamas spokesperson, denied that that the assault happened and that a journalist had been detained at gunpoint.

In its statement on the incident, the FPA said it “condemns this violent behavior in the strongest terms, and finds it especially shocking in light of verbal promises we have received from the Hamas officials to respect the freedom of the press. We hope that Hamas will properly investigate this incident and provide an explanation and apology for this unacceptable behavior by their forces.”

As CAMERA has frequently noted, Hamas is a violent terror group—and similar to its rival Fatah that rules the West Bank—it has a long history of lying and intimidating and manipulating press outlets.

What is shocking isn’t that Hamas—in a despicable act—attacked members of the press, but how little press coverage the assault received. The AP, for instance, expended three sentences on this incident. Curiously, in their report on the protests, The New York Times failed to mention the attack (“With Electricity in Short Supply, 10,000 Protest in Gaza, Defying Hamas,” Jan. 13, 2017).

Other major U.S. news outlets, such as The Washington Post, USA Today and The Baltimore Sun, failed to provide their own reports on either the protests or the assault on the journalists. The Post, for example, merely carried an AP dispatch and only online. It’s hard to fathom a similar lack of coverage had Israeli officials assaulted a journalist or thousands of people protested in Israel.

In fact, back in February 2016—during a period of extreme tension in Israel and frequent Palestinian terrorist attacks—Israeli border police briefly detained two Washington Post correspondents for 30 minutes for questioning. Israeli authorities later apologized and said the incident was an “unfortunate misunderstanding.” Both The Washington Post (“Israel briefly detains two Post journalists, calls it an ‘unfortunate misunderstanding,’” February 16) and The New York Times (“Israeli Officers Briefly Detain Two Journalists,” February 16) provided readers with detailed reports on the incident.

Indeed, its particularly astonishing that The Washington Post and The New York Times failed to cover the assault given what they have deemed to be newsworthy in the not-so-recent past. The New York Times previously devoted an entire article—both in print and online—to the Israeli Prime Minister’s dog biting someone at a dinner party (“Netanyahu’s Dog Sinks Teeth Into Guests,” Dec. 12, 2015). And as CAMERA has noted, in September 2016, The Washington Post ran a lengthy piece on Chinese tourists purportedly being overcharged at an Israeli restaurant.

Posted by SD at January 16, 2017 04:21 PM

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