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Israeli Government Demands Explanation from News Agencies Regarding Photographers' Links to Hamas

Jerusalem, November 9, 2023 - The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's administration is seeking answers from several prominent news agencies following criticism of their photographers and their alleged links to Hamas during the barbaric attack that occurred on October 7.

In one of the photos, photojournalist Hassan Eslaiah was seen pictured with Gaza's Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar, the mastermind of the October 7 attack. (Photo: X/@ShamirIdit)

The controversy emerged after it was reported that photographers affiliated with news agencies appeared alongside Hamas terrorists from the moment they broke through the Gaza border fence. The Associated Press (AP), one of the agencies under scrutiny, stated that they had no prior knowledge of the attack. AP clarified that the first pictures they received from any freelancer were taken more than an hour after the attacks began. They further emphasized that no AP staff were present at the border during the attacks, and no AP staffer crossed the border at any time. The agency announced that they are no longer working with Hassan Eslaiah, the freelancer in question, who had occasionally contributed to AP and other international news organizations in Gaza. AP defended its practice of using freelance photographers, stating that they take extensive measures to verify the authenticity of the images they receive.

Associated Press Statement:

The Associated Press had no knowledge of the Oct. 7 attacks before they happened. The first pictures AP received from any freelancer show they were taken more than an hour after the attacks began. No AP staff were at the border at the time of the attacks, nor did any AP staffer cross the border at any time. We are no longer working with Hassan Eslaiah, who had been an occasional freelancer for AP and other international news organizations in Gaza. AP uses images taken by freelancers around the world. When we accept freelance photos, we take great steps to verify the authenticity of the images and that they show what is purported. The role of the AP is to gather information on breaking news events around the world, wherever they happen, even when those events are horrific and cause mass casualties.

In response to the controversy, the Israel Government Press Office (GPO), which regulates press access in Israel, issued a statement demanding explanations from several major news outlets. GPO Director Nitzan Chen specifically called on the bureau chiefs of AP, Reuters, CNN, and the New York Times to clarify their connections with contributors, especially focusing on the alleged involvement of Hassan Eslaiah on the day of the attack.

The GPO emphasized the need for transparency and accountability in media coverage, particularly during sensitive and tragic events. It has urged the implicated news agencies to provide a detailed account of their photographers' activities on the day of the attack, seeking to understand the extent of their association with individuals linked to terrorist activities.

The controversy has raised concerns about the ethical responsibilities of news agencies in conflict zones and the measures they take to ensure the accuracy and integrity of their reporting. As investigations continue, the Israeli government remains determined to uncover the truth behind the photographers' alleged connections to the Hamas attack, underscoring the importance of unbiased and reliable journalism in reporting events of global significance.


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