Hamas is using threats and pressure to prevent journalists from providing objective reports, the Foreign Press Association in Israel said on Monday.
The organization said it “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 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,” the FPA added.
The association said that several members of the foreign media in Gaza were harassed, threatened or questioned about stories they reported.
In addition, the FPA vehemently opposed “a ‘vetting’ procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists,” which Hamas is trying to put into place.
On Sunday, Paul T. Jørgensen of Norway’s TV2 reported that “several foreign journalists have been kicked out of Gaza because Hamas does not like what they wrote or said.
“We have received strict orders that if we record that Hamas fires rockets or that they shoot, we will face serious problems and be expelled from Gaza,” Jørgensen added.
Also Sunday, Hamas said it would require foreign journalists to provide information about Palestinian translators and fixers, as well as the address where they were staying, as part of a new procedure to receive a press card.
The new directives are aimed at “facilitating and organizing the mission of our foreign colleagues,” and Hamas warned that reporters who fail to comply will not be allowed to work in Gaza.
However, on Monday, Jodi Rudoren, the New York Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief tweeted: “Every reporter I’ve met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense.”
Times vice president for corporate communications Eileen Murphy wrote to JTA late last month that the newspaper’s team in Gaza did not photograph any rocket launches, sent only “two very distant, poor quality images that were captioned Hamas fighters” and “hasn’t even seen anyone carrying a gun.”Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.