Mainstream media deny allegations about their photographers in Gaza

Mainstream international media have strongly denied knowing in advance that Hamas would attack Israel on October 7, in response to allegations directed at certain Palestinian photojournalists in Gaza and picked up by the Israeli government.

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The denials have been published by the US media, The New York Times and CNN, as well as by the three global news agencies, AP, Reuters and AFP.

The controversy began with an online post published Wednesday by the pro-Israel organization HonestReporting, which highlights what it considers unfavorable treatment of Israel in the media.

HonestReporting suggested, questioningly, that independent Palestinian photojournalists in Gaza employed, it said, by the AP, Reuters, CNN and the New York Times, may have been warned of the attack in advance by the Islamist movement Hamas.

Widely broadcast on social media, these accusations were picked up by the Israeli government.

“These journalists are complicit in crimes against humanity; his actions were contrary to professional ethics,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on social network X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday.

“Israel’s internal security agency has announced that it will eliminate all participants in the October 7 massacres. Those (photojournalists) who participated in the coverage of the attack will be added to this list,” he said on the same network the deputy Danny Danon, a member of the Likud, the party of Mr. Netanyahu, and a former diplomat.

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“The Associated Press had no knowledge of the Oct. 7 attacks before they occurred,” the AP responded in a statement Thursday.

“The accusation that anyone at the New York Times knew in advance of the Hamas attacks or accompanied Hamas terrorists during the attacks is false and scandalous,” the American newspaper also said Thursday, stressing that this “endangered its journalists on the ground in Israel and Gaza”.

The Reuters agency “categorically denied knowing about the attack in advance or sending journalists with Hamas on October 7.”

CNN also denied any prior knowledge of the attacks. However, he indicated that he had ceased all collaboration with the main independent photographer implicated by HonestReporting, while stressing that he had “no reason at this stage to doubt the journalistic accuracy of the work” he had achieved in the past.

AP also indicated that it no longer hires this freelance photographer.

AFP reacted on Friday because, despite not being cited among the media highlighted by HonestReporting, it was questioned on social media in France.

“Any accusation of collusion between our journalists in Gaza and Hamas during the October 7 attack is slanderous and defamatory, and we reserve the right to take any action accordingly,” the Gaza news director said. ‘AFP Phil Chetwynd.

The photographers working permanently for AFP “were awakened by artillery and rocket fire, and then approached the barrier between Gaza and Israel.”

“The first photos near the Gaza fence were taken more than an hour after the attack began,” AFP said in a statement.