A Hamas delegation paid a visit to the temporary bureau of Al Jazeera in Gaza Thursday, lauding the Qatari news agency for its coverage of the recent conflict between Israel and terror groups in the coastal enclave.
The visit, one of what Hamas said was a series by its officials to honor media outlets for their coverage, featured the presentation to the Al Jazeera team of a certificate marking appreciation for coverage of what Hamas called the “Sword of Jerusalem” battle.
Hamas deputy chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya told Al Jazeera reporters that they “demonstrated their belonging to the cause of the oppressed Palestinian people,” according to a statement from the group.
“What distinguishes the Palestinian journalist [from others] is that he has a national message,” Hayya said. “We saw a high level of nationalism and a national tone in Al Jazeera’s coverage.”
The senior Hamas official also lauded the agency’s “high professionalism” and noted the sacrifice of its reporters, whose office was leveled by the IDF on the fifth day of the 11-day conflict. Israel says Hamas had been using several offices in the al-Jaala media tower, including one where operatives were working on technology that could jam the Iron Dome missile defense system.
בכירי חמאס בעזה מעניקים תעודת הוקרה לערוץ אל-ג'זירה הקטרי על סיקור מופתי של מבצע שומר החומות
נציג הערוץ בעזה ואיל דחדוח מקבל את התעודה מידי סגנו של יחיא סינוואר, ח'ליל אל-חיה#קטר_זה_רעל pic.twitter.com/5w8qw2L8p0
— Gal Berger גל ברגר (@galberger) June 8, 2021
The Associated Press also worked from the building, the destruction of which led to intense international criticism.
All occupants were warned by Israel to evacuate ahead of time, and no one was hurt.
Hayya also used the opportunity to praise Al Jazeera journalist Givara Budeiri, who was detained by Israeli forces last week while covering protests in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where Palestinian families are under threat of eviction. Police said Budeiri participated in riots at the scene, though he denied the claim.
Separately on Wednesday, Al Jazeera announced that it had been targeted in successive hacking attempts over the past several days, adding that it managed to fend them off.
Al Jazeera’s websites and platforms experienced “continued electronic attacks aimed at accessing, disrupting and controlling some of the news platforms” from Saturday to Tuesday, the network said in a statement picked up by Reuters.
“Al Jazeera’s service provider was able to monitor and fend off all the hacking attacks and prevent them from achieving their goal,” the network added.
It claimed that the cyberattacks peaked on Sunday ahead of the premiere of a documentary detailing indirect negotiations taking place between Israel and Hamas, including a voice recording purportedly of an Israeli soldier held prisoner in Gaza, which was widely regarded as fake.
The Qatari news agency has long been accused of having an anti-Israeli, anti-American slant in its coverage.