FRESH AIR

Propaganda and “Fake Journalists” in Gaza

Jan 10, 2024 | Justin Amler

YouTube screenshot
YouTube screenshot

When two Al Jazeera journalists were killed in an Israeli airstrike in southern Gaza this past Sunday, the predictable response from some was that Israel must be deliberately targeting journalists.

Al Jazeera itself predictably condemned Israel in a statement saying, “The assassination of his son Hamza in January 2024 confirms without a doubt the Israeli forces’ determination to continue these brutal attacks against journalists and their families, aiming to discourage them from performing their mission, violating the principles of freedom of the press and undermines the right to life.”

It went on to say that “Al Jazeera condemns, in the strongest terms, the ongoing crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces against journalists and media professionals in Gaza.”

This is a deliberate distortion of reality from Al Jazeera, the slick outfit owned and funded by the Qatari royal family which, keeping with Qatar’s pro-Hamas stances, has long served as a mouthpiece and effective propaganda arm for Hamas. Hamas even gave Al Jazeera an award in 2021 for its coverage of that year’s war and for having “demonstrated their belonging to the cause of the oppressed Palestinian people.” Hamas also praised them as “heroic fedayeen [‘self-sacrificing warriors’].”

Rather than an example of an attack by Israel on journalists, the real story of what happened on Sunday appears to be very different – calling into question whether everyone who claims to be a “journalist” should automatically be treated as one.

According to the Israel Defence Forces, the two so-called journalists, Hamza Wael Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuria, were travelling in a car together with a terrorist who was operating, from the car, a drone being used to gather intelligence on Israeli forces in the area, thus allowing them to be targeted by Hamas fighters.

In a legitimate defensive action, Israel identified the vehicle through electronic means as controlling the drone and an airstrike was launched, eliminating the threat.

This was thus not a targeted attack against journalists but a legitimate military action against an imminent threat in an active warzone.

That shouldn’t be the least bit controversial.

But what should be controversial is why those two “journalists” were seated alongside a Hamas terrorist apparently gathering intelligence about Israeli forces.

Such questions about the role of “journalists” in Gaza are not new. For months now, many journalists in Gaza have been exposed as nothing more than tools of Hamas rather than arbiters of “freedom of the press” as Al Jazeera claims.

Indeed, on January 8, an Honest Reporting investigation revealed that Gaza journalists Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa and Ashraf Amra, who had both been working for Reuters, had on October 7 broadcast a public call for Gaza residents to cross the border into Israel to take part in the massacres then occurring in Israeli border towns.

During an Instagram live session, Amra can be seen laughing while Abu Mostafa presents footage on his phone of an Israeli soldier being lynched. Both of them seem to revel in the joy of describing the events of the day, including “female settlers” – actually, innocent Israeli women living inside pre-1967 Israel – being taken hostage or worse. In the video, Amra describes quite chillingly how the door of a room was broken into and how they found “three female settlers and a dog” and how the “three female settlers had been carried” out but the dog remained – about which they both laughed.

Such sickening actions by those who call themselves journalists does not simply call into question their impartiality, it utterly destroys it. Reinforcing that even further, Amra himself was also photographed on at least two occasions exchanging kisses with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Far from being independent impartial journalists, who indeed play a key role in any free society, many ostensible “journalists” in Gaza have completely aligned themselves with the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas network. As long as they serve Hamas’ and its military machine, they lose their protection as journalists, no matter what they call themselves.

We’ve all heard the term “fake news”. It’s time we also familiarise ourselves with the term “fake journalists” – of which there appear to be many in Gaza right now.

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