The news agenda shouldn't be set by armed thugs
As hostilities flared in Gaza last week between Israeli forces and terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Hamas issued a draconian set of rules to local fixers working for foreign reporters. These guidelines sought to formally control the way in which the conflict was reported in the West.
Here are the key highlights:
After a backlash, Hamas realised that it had allowed its mask to slip. To contain a burgeoning public relations disaster, it withdrew the guidelines. But fixers were left in no doubt about Hamas’s position, and the consequences that lay in store for those not following the rules. After all, the terror group was simply expanding and codifying restrictions that had, by and large, been in place for years.
Think back to all the reporting you have seen of fighting between Israel and terror groups in Gaza. Do you recall any footage or pictures of dead Palestinian militants? Of terror infrastructure destroyed? Of rockets being fired from civilian areas, using them as human shields?
Almost never. In fact, the vast majority of material coming out of Gaza — the dead children, the weeping mothers, the bombed-out schools — gives the impression that only civilians have been killed, lending credence to the false notion that Israel is bent on some kind of “genocide” rather than targeting those who wish to murder its own civilians. This is because Western reporters are kept on a tight leash via their fixers, only allowed to report on scenes that support Hamas’ narrative.
In 2014, Indian journalists happened to film a rocket being launched by Hamas militants next to their hotel. It was a densely-populated civilian area, when other locations were available. When it emerged, the footage caused a sensation; but the journalists had delayed its release due to “fear of reprisals from Hamas against us and those who worked with us”. That was eight years ago.
It boils down to this. Hamas has been controlling the journalism that comes out of Gaza for years. Instead of taking a stand, too many Western media outlets have shamefully been content with their roles as mouthpieces of the terror group. Do they stand by their past reporting? And will they continue to allow their news agenda to be dictated by armed thugs? Surely audiences deserve better than this.