An umbrella group representing foreign journalists working in Israel and the Palestinian Authority strongly condemned Hamas Monday for what it said were attempts to intimidate them and interfere with their coverage of the fighting in Gaza.
In a sharply worded reproach of Gaza’s de facto rulers that was posted on its website, the Foreign Press Association denounced Hamas’s attempts to control foreign press coverage and efforts to discriminate against those who don’t comply with its demands.
“The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month,” the statement said. “The international media are not advocacy organizations and cannot be prevented from reporting by means of threats or pressure, thereby denying their readers and viewers an objective picture from the ground.”
As well as targeting journalists in Gaza, the press organization said it was aware that Hamas has also been taking steps to vet those media personnel it doesn’t approve of and to prevent them from reporting in Gaza.
“Such a procedure is vehemently opposed by the FPA,” the statement said.
The FPA asserted that “in several cases, foreign reporters working in Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media.”
A numbers of reporters working in Gaza reported on Hamas’s use of civilian infrastructure for military means, but said they were only able to do so once out of the Strip, for fear of Hamas reprisals.
A report by India-based NDTV last week on Hamas assembling and firing a rocket next to a hotel used by journalists was filed hours after the reporter left Gaza, because “Hamas has not taken very kindly to any reporting of its rockets being fired,” he wrote.
Formed in 1957 by a group of journalists, the FPA is a nonprofit organization that aims to assist foreign reporters in covering news from Israel. It says that its mandate is “to clarify bureaucratic problems and to protect our interests.”