WASHINGTON - The Foreign Press Association (FPA) released a statement Monday condemning censorship by Hamas in the Gaza Strip in attempts to ensure that reports put the terrorist organization in positive light over the course of Operation Protective Edge.
In response, Israel has apologized for such incidents, calling them a mistake and warning the organization that Hamas was using reporters as human shields. The Government Press Office (GPO) also stressed that Israel can't be responsible for the safety of journalists in the Gaza Strip saying, "The city of Gaza and the surrounding areas are a battleground."
Since foreign reporters exited the Gaza Strip during a lull in fighting, several reports have surfaced showing footage that they had been afraid to show while in Gaza, but the FPA's comments are the first such claims from an official organization.
|This France 24 report aired after journalists left Gaza and shows children gathered around a rocket launching site.|
"The FPA 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," read the statement.
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"In several cases, foreign reporters working in Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media," said the FPA statement.
|This report aired in India showing a rocket launcher being assembled and wired to fire remotely.|
The organization also said in the statement that Hamas has been trying to, "put in place a 'vetting' procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists. Such a procedure is vehemently opposed by the FPA."
Monday's statement is the first time the group has criticized Hamas' treatment of the foreign media, though the FPA has condemned Israel for several incidents including during Operation Protective Edge when they released a statement accusing the IDF of firing at Al Jazeera's headquarters in the Gaza Strip.