Israeli Government Accuses Freelance Journalists of Advanced Attack Knowledge

( – When Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, it took the Jewish state by surprise. In the weeks that followed, Israel launched a vicious counterattack, aiming to eradicate the militant group. During this time, the media has provided extensive coverage of the war, but Israel is claiming that some freelance journalists had advanced knowledge of what Hamas had planned.

On November 8, Honest Reporting published a report calling into question the actions of some photojournalists. Specifically, they raised the issue of the freelancers being in the region before the attack and alleged they knew it was coming, so they positioned themselves strategically to capture the events as they happened. “What were they doing there so early on what would ordinarily have been a quiet Saturday morning?” the publication questioned. The report notes several high-profile media outlets, including CNN, The Associated Press, The New York Times, and Reuters.

The Israeli government latched onto this report and the accusations within, saying the journalists named — Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa, Hassan Eslaiah, Hatem Ali, Ali Mahmud, Yousef Masoud, and Yasser Qudih — “were accomplices in crimes against humanity; their actions were contrary to professional ethics,” in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The National Public Diplomacy Directorate sought clarification from the news outlets in question and demanded they take “immediate action.”

The outlets were quick to refute the claims against them. In a published statement, The Associated Press said it “had no knowledge” of the events prior, and any photographs it had in its possession and that were published were taken more than an hour after Hamas attacked. A spokesperson for CNN acknowledged they worked with Eslaiah, but he was not working for the publication on that day. Both CNN and the AP have confirmed they are no longer working with Eslaiah.

In similar fashion, The New York Times issued a statement on November 9 in regard to Yousef Masoud, saying the accusations lobbed against the outlet were “untrue and outrageous.” Masoud, the publication said, was not working for the NYT on the day of the attack, but it has worked with him since.

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