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Middle East Issues





AFP Corrects Regarding 17 'Journalists' Killed in Gaza


In response to communication from CAMERA's Israel office, the Agence France Presse yesterday corrected an article which had alleged that "[s]ome 17 journalists were killed covering the July-August Gaza war" ("Israel ministry video lashes out at foreign journalists").
 
As noted yesterday on CAMERA's Snapshots blog, the influential wire service initially did not attribute this figure to any source, but stated it as fact. The number is a Palestinian (Hamas) claim, disputed by the Israeli Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which has documented that eight of the 17 on the Hamas list were Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror operatives or worked for Hamas or Islamic Jihad media outfits.
 
About a week after the end of Operation Protective Edge the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate issued a list of 17 names, allegedly of journalists who had been killed in [the summer 2014 Gaza] operation. The list was published by the PA's Wafa News Agency, which received it from the Hamas-controlled Gaza office of the ministry of information.
AFP promptly followed up by republishing the article. Commendable changes include the attribution of the figure of 17 journalists killed to Hamas, as opposed to just reporting it as fact, and the addition of the fact that the Meir Amit center disputes Hamas' figure. The amended article states:
The Hamas-run ministry of information said 17 journalists were killed covering the July-August Gaza war . . . .
 
That statistic is disputed by the privately-run Israeli Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre, which says Hamas-linked media operatives or combatants were counted as journalists in Palestinian figures.
 
The International Federation of Journalists says at least 13 media workers were killed.
It should be noted that the International Federation of Journalists' (IFJ) list of 13 journalists killed in Gaza last summer includes several whom the Meir Amit center has identified as operatives of Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Among them is Izzar Dheir, killed July 29, and shown below (photo courtesy of Meir Amit center) wearing an Islamic Jihad cap and holding an M-16 rifle.
 
 
The IFJ also lists Khaled Hamed, killed July 20, as one of the killed journalists. About Hamed, pictured below wrapped in a Hamas flag at his funeral, the Meir Amit center reports:
 
Khaled Riyad Muhammad Hamad, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades terrorist operative, apparently also worked for Hamas' civilian media network. He was described as a "jihad fighter" journalist who was killed covering the fighting in Shejaiya. In the picture his body is wrapped in a green Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades flag. His Press vest and camera rest on the body (Hamas' Felesteen.ps, July 27, 2014).
Also among the journalists named by the International Federation of Journalists is Hamada Khaled Maqqat, killed Aug. 4. The Meir Amit center notes that the Facebook page (pictures below) of a mosque affiliated with Islamic Jihad identifies him as a "jihad fighter." The research institute reports:
 
 
The Meir Amit center reports that PIJ-affiliated Facebook page said the following on August 9, 2014:
The family of the Na'ama al-Ghafari mosque [PIJ-affiliated] regards the jihad fighters named below, who frequented this mosque, as shaheeds. [They are] shaheed Zaher al-Anqah [PIJ operative], shaheed Suleiman Marouf [PIJ operative], shaheed Ahmed Muqat [brother of Hamada Muqat], saheed Hamada Muqat [PIJ operative].
According to the IFJ, Maqqat was a journalist with the "SAJA online news website." About SAJA, the Meir Amit center maintains that SAJA is affiliated with Islamic Jihad.
 
IFJ does not indicate from where or how it collected its data, but its press release states:
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), to express its outrage and condemnation at the 13 media workers who have to date been killed in the Gaza region.
As noted above, the Meir Amit center has reported that the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate's data, published by the Wafa News Agency, originated from "the Hamas-controlled Gaza office of the ministry of information ." Thus, IFJ should not be regarded as some sort of objective, international agency carefully examining and vetting information from all sources, but as yet another Hamas echo chamber.
 
CAMERA commends the AFP for carefully sourcing the Hamas claim and for adding information from the Meir Amit center. CAMERA's timely proactive efforts to achieve correction of wire service articles in the very same news cycle helps stem the proliferation of misinformation in media outlets across the world, in print and online. Nevertheless, Ynet, an English-language Israeli news site, and the Daily Mail have reproduced the inaccurate figure, and CAMERA is following up with editors at both of these news outlets.
 
For additional AFP corrections prompted by CAMERA, please see here.
 

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