Foreign correspondents covering Gaza have rejected Israeli PM Netanyahu’s allegations regarding their reports, which have been described as ‘unbalanced’ and ‘biased’ towards Palestinians due to pressure exerted by Hamas.Netanyahu held a meeting with journalists, Thursday evening, claiming that ‘when they (foreign correspondents) leave Gaza, they will not be subject to the restrictions and threats by Hamas’, further stating: ‘I expect to see documented reports about (terrorists) who are hiding behind the civilians.’
According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, journalists who recently left the strip say that Netanyahu lied, stressing that no one pressured them, and that they didn’t even meet any one belonging to Hamas, during their stay in Gaza.
Spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry Yigal Palmor declared, ‘I can not believe that any veteran photographers could not succeed in taking a photo even to one group launching a missile, or one fighter from Hamas.’
The journalists, near unanimously, confirmed and agreed on one thing: that they had not witnessed one scene which would serve to prove the PM’s allegations.
Friday, Hebrew daily Haaretz reported that, among the 710 journalists who entered Gaza to cover the Israeli offensive, only one correspondent (from Indian TV channel NDTV) documented resistance fighters firing rockets into Israel, adding that ‘similar images may be revealed later, but we met all the reporters who said that they did not notice such pictures, and if they did, they would take them.’
A veteran correspondent asserted that the fact that NDTV succeeded in taking one picture does not prove anything.
Another veteran correspondent is reported to have said, ‘I saw a small number of Hamas fighters; they were few. This reminded me of the second Lebanon War, when I did not see Hezbollah fighters at the border area.’
According to the New York Times’ Anne Bernard, NYT staff simply broadcasted reports about launching rockets from populated and agricultural areas. ‘We saw them flying’, she said, ‘but, within two weeks, I did not see the crews that fired rockets. They hid them for understandable reasons, in order not to be targeted by the Israeli raids.’
A European photographer further backed his fellow correspondents’ general assessment by stating that he did not see missile launchers anywhere but, rather, watched and photographed a lot of missiles flying in the air. The rocket launchers were hidden well, he further stated, adding that even Israel, despite all of its drones, did not find any of them.
One journalist reportedly said, “I know that some people have faced problems, but nothing more than what is expected to happen in the coverage of such a war,” stating that he did not feel as though Hamas militants threatened him any more than did the Israelis.
According to Al Ray, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Information, Ihab al- Ghusain, has said that his office has allowed for nearly a thousand foreign journalists to enter Gaza, via Beit Hanoun crossing, during the period of the Israeli aggression on the besieged enclave.
See also: 08/07/14 ‘Reporters Without Borders: Journalist Death Toll in Gaza Reaches 13’