How did The Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, and CNN obtain their photos of Hamas terrorists carrying out their horrific attack on Israel on Oct. 7? What does it reveal about the Gazan “civilians” that Hamas uses as human shields as Israel responded with military force?
On Wednesday, a media watchdog called HonestReporting published an article asking how these U.S. news outlets got their photos and suggesting that the outlets had embedded photojournalists inside Hamas as the terrorist group slaughtered at least 1,400 civilians in Israel. A former freelance journalist for AP, Hassan Eslaiah, appears in a photo with the leader of the Hamas massacre, Yahya Sinwar.
Israel demanded answers. Nitzan Chen, director of the Israeli Government Press Office, demanded explanations from each of the four major news outlets. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying that it “views with utmost gravity that photojournalists working with international media joined in covering the brutal acts of murder perpetrated by Hamas terrorists.”
“These journalists were accomplices in crimes against humanity; their actions were contrary to professional ethics,” Netanyahu’s office added.
Each news organization told The Daily Signal that it had no prior knowledge of the terrorist attacks and received the photos they used from freelancers. Three of the four outlets said they no longer work with those freelancers.
“We had no prior knowledge of the October 7th attacks,” CNN press officer Tarini Kumar told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement Thursday. “Hassan Eslaiah, who was a freelance journalist working for us and many other outlets, was not working for the network on October 7th. As of today, we have severed all ties with him.”
“We are aware of a report by HonestReporting and accusations made against two freelance photographers who contributed to Reuters coverage of the October 7 attack,” Heather Carpenter, Reuters’ senior director of communications, told The Daily Signal.
“Reuters categorically denies that it had prior knowledge of the attack or that we embedded journalists with Hamas on October 7,” Carpenter added. “Reuters acquired photographs from two Gaza-based freelance photographers who were at the border on the morning of October 7, with whom it did not have a prior relationship.”
“The photographs published by Reuters were taken two hours after Hamas fired rockets across southern Israel and more than 45 minutes after Israel said gunmen had crossed the border,” she added. “Reuters staff journalists were not on the ground at the locations referred to in the HonestReporting article.”
“Reuters is committed to reporting news fairly, accurately and independently in keeping with the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles,” Carpenter concluded.
The Associated Press had no knowledge of the Oct. 7 attacks before they happened,” Lauren Easton, director of media relations at AP, said in a blog post Thursday. “
The first pictures AP received from any freelancer show they were taken more than an hour after the attacks began. No AP staff were at the border at the time of the attacks, nor did any AP staffer cross the border at any time.“
“We are no longer working with Hassan Eslaiah, who had been an occasional freelancer for AP and other international news organizations in Gaza,” Easton added. “AP uses images taken by freelancers around the world. When we accept freelance photos, we take great steps to verify the authenticity of the images and that they show what is purported.”
“The role of the AP is to gather information on breaking news events around the world, wherever they happen, even when those events are horrific and cause mass casualties,” she concluded.
“The accusation that anyone at The New York Times had advance knowledge of the Hamas attacks or accompanied Hamas terrorists during the attacks is untrue and outrageous,” Nicole Taylor, managing director of external communications at the Times, told The Daily Signal in a written statement Thursday. “It is reckless to make such allegations, putting our journalists on the ground in Israel and Gaza at risk. The Times has extensively covered the Oct. 7 attacks and the war with fairness, impartiality and an abiding understanding of the complexities of the conflict.”
“The advocacy group Honest Reporting has made vague allegations about several freelance photojournalists working in Gaza, including Yousef Masoud,” the Times’ Taylor noted. “Though Yousef was not working for The Times on the day of the attack, he has since done important work for us. There is no evidence for HonestReporting’s insinuations. Our review of his work shows that he was doing what photojournalists always do during major news events, documenting the tragedy as it unfolded.”
The New York Times spokeswoman also spoke “in defense of freelance photojournalists working in conflict areas, whose jobs often require them to rush into danger to provide first-hand witness accounts and to document important news.” She called their work “the essential role of a free press in wartime.”
Although it is important for journalists to report on stories during wartime, questions remain about whether these journalists made any attempt to reach Israeli authorities to warn them about the coming genocidal attack, in which Hamas killed more Jews in one day than in any pogrom since Nazi Germany committed the Holocaust in the 1930s and 1940s.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, noted that these photojournalists’ actions reveal how closely Palestinian “civilians” often work with Hamas and cooperate in the terrorist group’s efforts to use civilians as human shields. These actions undermine the narrative that Israel’s war to eradicate Hamas represents a “genocide” against Palestinian civilians.
“What we now know is that ‘civilians’ drew maps for Hamas, guiding them to each house, to each child, to each pet,” Menken, who leads a group representing 2,500 Orthodox Jewish rabbis in U.S. public policy, told The Daily Signal in a statement Thursday.
“‘Civilians’ came after the terrorists to murder and kidnap those who had been spared,” Menken said. “And ‘civilians’ were embedded with the terrorists to report on the atrocities committed. Also, ‘civilians’ deliberately gather around the terrorists, even, barbarically, bringing their children.”
“It is worth keeping these things in mind when you hear about ‘civilians’ killed in Gaza,” the rabbi added.
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