Yesterday The Jerusalem Post interviewed Christian Stephen of the Freelance Society, an organization that specializes in covering war zones.
When asked about the intimidation he faced as a reporter, Stephen responded:
A fighter inside Gaza City threatened to shoot me in the head if I didn’t stop taking pictures of a group of cars with tarp-covered trunks parked behind a building.
Another young guy near the outskirts of the city was waving an old handgun around screaming at me because he wanted me to take a picture of the dead boy on the ground next to us under the rubble of a building. He was screaming “This is our hell! This is our hell!” …
It’s a dichotomy of them needing the situation to be seen, as long as you only show the damage and not the retaliatory measures.
Stephen also noted that though he sought out combatants with Hamas “on more than one occasion,” by the time he reached the meeting site, “the building was dust, rubble and bodies.”
While Stephen also cited one instance of being intimidated by an Israeli authority, the background to the interview tells a significant story. Reports that journalists in Gaza had been threatened or intimidated by Hamas officials was the impetus for the interview. The Post tried to interview a number of journalists who had been based in Gaza but “[o]f the few who responded most declined to be interviewed, even on condition of anonymity, as they plan to return to Gaza to report.”
Tyler Hicks, a photographer for The New York Times, said in an interview recently that members of Hamas operate within the civilian population, making it difficult to differentiate between civilians and combatants. A news crew from India’s NDTV showed terrorists firing rockets right next to the station’s position. Both the interview and the report were published after the reporters left Gaza.
In the August 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, veteran news correspondent Mark Lavie wrote in Why Everything Reported From Gaza is Crazy Twisted, “A reporter for a European news outlet told a friend that he saw Hamas gunmen firing rockets from outside his hotel, but he didn’t take pictures, certain that if he had, they would have killed him. He told the tale only after he was safely out of Gaza.”
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