Journalists from across the globe who flooded Israel and Gaza to cover the war have testified to the Israeli government that they often suffered violence and that their equipment was damaged by Hamas because they had documented criminal activity by Hamas, such as the launching of rockets from the heart of civilian areas.
The Government Press Office (GPO) has dealt with 705 foreign journalists from over 42 countries who came to cover the war, dubbed by The Jewish Press as the IDF’s Protective Edge campaign against Hamas’ Operation Death Wish.
The number of foreign journalists reporting on the war was more than double the 303 reporters who came to Israel in November 2012 to cover Operation Pillar of Defense.
The GPO said Wednesday it has accumulated testimony by foreign journalists regarding harassment by Hamas activists regarding the carrying out of their assignments. Journalists said that during their coverage of the fighting they received threats and, in several cases, were the victims of violence that included destruction of their equipment
At the onset of the operation, the GPO opened a media and information center in Ashkelon and held weekly tours, briefings and press conferences with Cabinet ministers and government and military officials. Journalists noted that their meeting with Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, who briefed them on the challenges of urban and guerrilla warfare, assisted them in understanding the complexity of the current violence.
Reporters also visited and spoke with wounded IDF soldiers at Sheba Medical center at Tel HaShomer as well as with Gaza Arabs who were being treated in Israel.
They toured the IDF field hospital at Erez Crossing, which received and treated approximately 50 wounded Arabs. The number would have been much higher, but Hamas prevented hundreds from arriving and being helped by Jews.
During the tour, the journalists witnessed the violation of the ceasefire by Hamas and heard t explosions in the area. They also observed the scope of the humanitarian assistance, which included medicine, medical equipment, food, clothing and fuel. In the past month, approximately 1,500 trucks with humanitarian aid entered Gaza, belying the libel that Gaza is under Israeli siege.
Despite the international condemnation from governments around the world, newspaper coverage was less anti-Israel than usual, with the obvious exception of The New York Times.
Another major factor in the change in coverage was the work by the staff of the office of the IDF Spokesman. The army learned its lessons from Operation Cast Lead and Pillar of Cloud and filmed dozens of Hamas war crimes violations and provided footage of the IDF warning civilians in Gaza to stay away from areas from which Hamas was shooting rockets and which were to be bombed.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jewish Home party chairman Naftali Bennett, both fluent English speakers and communicators in the media, flooded American television programs with precise answers on false allegations by Hamas and international leaders that tried to paint Israel as the villain for defending against rocket attacks and terrorists infiltrations.