Journalists are condemning an Israeli air strike last Saturday that destroyed a building in Gaza housing the local offices of media outlets such as the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. Israeli officials claimed they have “smoking gun” evidence that the building also “contained military assets belonging to the intelligence offices of the Hamas terror organization.” The Israeli military provided advance warning of the air strike, which allowed the occupants to evacuate safely. There were no reported deaths or injuries. Nevertheless, the biased anti-Israel mainstream media expressed dismay at what Israel had done. They are exploiting the incident to put Israel in the worst possible light and influence public opinion against Israel. This is just the latest example of many in the mainstream media serving as the useful idiots for Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Secretary-General Christophe Deloire called upon “the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor to determine whether these airstrikes constitute war crimes.” He said nothing about the dual war crimes committed by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in firing rockets from Gaza aimed at Israeli civilian population centers, and using civilians including journalists as human shields.
Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt said that his news agency was “shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza.” Pruitt claimed that “We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building. This is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”
Pruitt’s claim that the AP had no reason to suspect it was sharing building space with Hamas lacks even a single shred of credibility. It is reminiscent of the scene from the movie Casablanca when Captain Renault, a regular patron and gambler at Rick’s Café, said “I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here” before closing the café on the orders of his Nazi superior.
The local Associated Press bureau has turned a blind eye to Hamas’s war crimes, including Hamas’s activities in the immediate proximity of the building the AP bureau was occupying for 15 years. The AP at its highest levels has taken the Palestinians’ victimhood narrative at face value and condemned Israel as the aggressor. They have done so partly for ideological reasons and partly because they fear retaliation from Hamas if they report what they really know about the terrorists’ operations happening right under their noses.
Matti Friedman, a former AP reporter, wrote back in 2014, following that year’s Gaza War, that “I was informed by the bureau’s senior editors that our Palestinian reporter in Gaza couldn’t possibly provide critical coverage of Hamas because doing so would put him in danger.” Friedman added that “The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.)”
Friedman went on to charge that members of the media on-site in Gaza were “co-opted by Hamas.” He added that they “ceased to be reliable observers and became instead an amplifier for the propaganda of one of the most intolerant and aggressive forces on earth.”
In condemning Israel for taking out a target it reasonably believed was being used in part by Hamas for military purposes against Israeli civilians, the Associated Press and its brethren in the media are playing right into Hamas’s propaganda strategy. Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields and then appeals for sympathy on their behalf when Israel responds to the rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population. Hamas is using journalists reporting in Gaza as human shields too, counting on the fact that the media will blame any deaths, injuries, or property damage on Israel.
Like the Associated Press, Al Jazeera condemned Israel’s destruction of its Gaza offices by the Israeli military. Commenting on the bombing of the building Al Jazeera had occupied, Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network, said: “We call on the international community to condemn such barbaric actions and targeting of journalists and we demand an immediate international action to hold Israel accountable for its deliberate targeting of journalists and the media institutions.” Souag added: “The aim of this heinous crime is to silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza.”
This is pure pro-Hamas propaganda. Anyone who thinks that the local Al Jazeera media outlet in Gaza was not fully aware of Hamas’s presence in its building is burying his or her head in the sand.
Al Jazeera is funded and controlled by the government of Qatar, which has maintained strong relations with Hamas since at least 2007 when the terrorist organization took control of the Gaza Strip.
Ismail Haniyeh, chief of Hamas’s political bureau, is living in exile in Qatar, where he remains very active in Hamas’s affairs and helps ensure the flow of money from Qatar to Hamas in Gaza. On May 15th, Haniyeh spoke to a huge crowd in Doha, Qatar. Haniyeh charged that “the Zionist enemy” had “carried out massacres.” He said that “The title of this battle today, the title of the war, and the title of the intifada, is Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem.”
Qatar’s foreign minister met with Haniyeh that same day and assured him of Qatar’s support for its “Palestinian brothers.”
At the rally in Doha, Haniyeh left no doubt that Hamas rejected any two-state solution where the Jewish state of Israel would remain intact. “The geographical barriers within historic Palestine have been removed,” he declared. “Today, Palestine is waging an Intifada from Rosh HaNikra to Umm Al-Rashrash [Eilat], and from Rafah to the farthest points to the North, East, and West of Palestine.” Referring to Safed, a city in the Northern District of Israel that is considered one of the Four Holy Cities of Judaism, Haniyeh proclaimed, “Safed is ours! Safed is ours! Safed belongs to us and to nobody else!” (as translated by MEMRI TV)
Haniyeh’s inflammatory remarks were broadcast by Qatar’s mouthpiece and Hamas’s propaganda arm, Al Jazeera Network.
Al Jazeera has been carrying Hamas’s water for years in alignment with its Qatari government masters’ support for the terrorist group. Its articles praising Hamas and vilifying Israel might just as well have been written by one of Hamas’s operatives working out of the same building in Gaza as Al Jazeera.
Hamas has threatened the few reporters and photographers who have tried to reveal the war crimes they actually witnessed committed by Hamas. Most so-called journalists are either too afraid or too ideologically biased against Israel to report the truth. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis has compiled examples of such biased reporting, including by the Associated Press.
Buildings containing military personnel, equipment or supplies constitute legitimate military targets under international law. Buildings used both for civilian and for military purposes also constitute legitimate targets, so long as effective advance warning is provided. This includes buildings that house media personnel and facilities, but which are also used for military purposes.
Nobody was hurt as a result of Israel’s air strike on the building housing the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. This building also housed Hamas assets, according to Israel’s best actionable intelligence that it shared in confidence with United States officials. Israel provided a warning to the building’s owner an hour in advance, allowing the occupants to evacuate safely.
It’s long past the time that the media came to terms with the fact that Hamas is manipulating the media for propaganda purposes and using the media in Gaza as human shields. Media outlets in Gaza should check out the next building they consider occupying to make sure they are not sharing space in the building with Palestinian terrorists.