The Foreign Press Association is protesting “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."
Of course this happened. Gaza is ruled by a dictatorship and a terrorist army, and this is what dictators and terrorists do. I’d flatly refuse to believe any report that said otherwise. Hezbollah pulled the same crap with me in Lebanon, and that was during peace time, not war time. I also told my readers about it and refused to be censored. And Hezbollah, at least in some ways, is less oppressive and controlling than Hamas.
Alan Johnson published a round-up of first-person reports in The Telegraph if you want to know the nuts-and-bolts of how this actually works.
Here is just one:
Israeli filmmaker Michael Grynszpan described on Facebook an exchange he had had with a Spanish journalist who had just left Gaza. “We talked about the situation there. He was very friendly. I asked him how come we never see on television channels reporting from Gaza any Hamas people, no gunmen, no rocket launcher, no policemen. We only see civilians on these reports, mostly women and children. He answered me frankly: 'It's very simple, we did see Hamas people there launching rockets, they were close to our hotel, but if ever we dare pointing our camera on them they would simply shoot at us and kill us.'”
I understand why these reporters didn’t write about this while they were in Gaza. They could have been kidnapped or killed. Perhaps their editors back home kept quiet for the same reason, to protect their employees and freelancers.
There is a solution to this conundrum, however. Don’t send reporters to places where they are intimidated into lying by omission or commission.
The Gaza war was a huge story, of course, and it had to be covered, but it could just as easily have been covered from the Israeli side of the line. Covering both sides of the story is of course preferable whenever possible, but providing balanced coverage from Israel alongside censored coverage from Gaza is a form of journalistic malpractice. Stop it.