With the ceasefire holding, foreign journalists who left Gaza — and the watchful eye of Hamas — were able finally to reveal things that they couldn’t while covering the fighting.
Many of them confirmed what Israel has been saying all along, that Hamas was using human shields, but dared not for fear of reprisals.
“We saw the Hamas men,” a Spanish reporter admitted to Ynet. “But had we dared point the cameras at them, they would have opened fire at us and killed us.”
An Indian reporter broadcast a video of terrorists launching rockets from right outside the window of his hotel in Gaza — but only after he was safely outside the enclave. When asked about the timing, he explained: “There’s a conspiracy of silence rooted in fear — no one wants to report in real-time.”
Similarly, Italian journalist Gabriele Barbati, once out of Gaza, had this to say: “Out of Gaza, far from Hamas retaliation: misfired rocket killed children yesterday in Shati. Witness: terrorists rushed and cleared debris. IDF Spokesperson said truth in communique released yesterday about Shati camp massacre. It was not Israel behind it.”
Another foreign reporter confirmed that it is an open secret that Hamas uses Al-Shifa hospital as its command center, but that reporters were too intimidated to say so.
The terrorist organization’s techniques for manipulating media coverage was not confined to brute fear, however. More subtle methods were also employed.
Hamas spokesmen could be interviewed only in the courtyard of Al-Shifa hospital, which provided the humanitarian crisis backdrop they sought to project.
They never allowed foreign reporters access to Hamas military sites, so that casualties of armed terrorists were never filmed, helping to give the impression that all the victims were innocent civilians.
Palestinian reporters were also subject to intimidation. Local Palestinian reporter Radjaa Abu Dagga, for example, reported that he was summoned for questioning at Al-Shifa hospital, where armed Hamas members attempted to determine whether he writes for an Israeli newspaper. Abu Dagga said that his passport was taken from him, and he was prohibited from leaving the Gaza Strip. Later, he published an article in French newspaper Libération, but was forced to remove it after receiving threats.
There were dissident voices, too. On Wednesday, NPR correspondent Emily Harris denied any Hamas interference in her reporting.
“I felt that I personally could report on whatever I wanted. I posted some photos of rocket smoke across the sky and put the audio of the one rocket launch I managed to record in a piece, noting that it was fired in the middle of Gaza City,” Harris said.
She did acknowledge, though, that Hamas “called in” Palestinian journalists who work with foreign press when Hamas was not happy with their coverage.