Terrorists from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operating in Gaza have united with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah faction to silence Palestinian journalists, Arab affairs journalist Khaled Abu Toameh writes in an article for the Gatestone Institute.
Over the past few days, a number of Palestinian journalists have received death threats from the “Gaza branch” of ISIS and were accused of publishing “lies” about ISIS in particular and about Islam in general.
The threats were sent via social media and messages to the journalists’ mobile phones.
“Islamic State warns the journalist and media people against their continued and constant attacks on us,” reads the text of one message sent. “We in Islamic State affirm that we will execute the rule of the Shari’a [Islamic law] against these apostates, who are sowing discord among Muslims.”
Many Palestinian journalists were already being targeted by Hamas in Gaza and the PA in Judea and Samaria. Those threats were reported last summer and confirmed by international journalists after they once they escaped from Gaza and reached their home countries, where they were free from the danger of being killed by Hamas and its terrorist allies.
The latest threats have only ratcheted up the pressure on these reporters, who are taking the threats seriously and are increasing their vigilance and their self-censorship.
“Of course we are afraid,” a veteran journalist in Gaza told Toameh. “You never know who is hiding behind the mask. It could be someone from ISIS or Hamas or Islamic Jihad or even Fatah. It is not safe to be a journalist living in the West Bank or Gaza.”
“The threats against Palestinian journalists are important because this is no longer a ‘local’ issue or an internal Palestinian affair,” Toameh writes. “Those who are seeking to silence the Palestinian journalists are also trying to prevent the international media from learning about what is really happening in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“A Palestinian journalist working with international news agencies and newspapers is not going to report truthfully and honestly, when he or she is facing daily threats from so many parties. The only stories these journalists are going to offer the international media are ones that depict Israel in a negative manner. The Palestinian journalists know that at the end of the day they need to go back to their families in Ramallah and Gaza without having to worry about masked men knocking on their doors at night.
“The threats against Palestinian journalists are worrying, and should be exposed and brought to the attention of human rights groups around the world. More disturbing is that many of the international journalists operating in the region are willing to turn a blind eye to the dangers facing their Palestinian colleagues and employees. The international media outlets and their representatives are prepared to take almost any story offered to them by Palestinian reporters, especially if the story consists of anti-Israel statements,” Toameh writes.
The above is especially important to consider in light of the current investigation into last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, being carried out by the United Nations Human Rights Council. As they did with depositions taken for the notorious and inaccurate Goldstone Report, the investigators are taking at face value anything said to them by Gaza residents they interview. They fail to understand the nature of the threat under which the average citizen lives his or her life in Gaza – nor do most “outsiders” realize how many so-called “civilians” are ancillary members or supporters of terror groups as well.
As a result, the evidence gathered is skewed from the start, though the investigators are wholly unaware of it, or worse, could care less.
International media by and large relies on news reports that have been self-censored by on-the-scene Palestinian stringers who are frankly afraid for their lives.
Threats by ISIS will now only raise the heat in the area.