Photo Credit: HonestReporting screenshot
Gaza-based 'photojournalists' embedded with the Hamas death squads documented the abduction of an elderly Israeli woman, October 7, 2023.

Two Gaza-based Arab photojournalists who entered Israel on October 7 during Hamas’s massacres committed war crimes, experts told the Tazpit Press Service.

“I believe that this is clearly an incidence that would come under and be covered by both the convention that we talked about in the [International Criminal Court], of the Prevention and Prosecution of Genocide, and under the Israeli law regarding the commission of and the prevention of genocide, and its prosecution,” Maurice Hirsch told the Tazpit Press Service. Hirsch, the former Director of the Military Prosecution for Judea and Samaria, is now Director of the Initiative for Palestinian Authority Accountability and Reform in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a Jerusalem-based research institute.


Hirsch was commenting on a recent report by HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog, which found that freelance photographers Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa and Ashraf Amra entered Israel to photograph the attacks. They then returned to Khan Yunis and went on Amra’s Instagram Live account and excitedly shared a video of a mob pulling an Israeli soldier out of a tank and urged Arabs to join the attack.

“You can go to Khuza’a [an area of southern Gaza near the border]. You park your motorbike there, okay? Or your jeep. And you enter inside. You will return back with a jeep, motorbike or bicycle, or anything,” Mostafa says in the video. Later, he adds, “Advice, whoever can go – go. It is a one-time event that will not happen again.”

Amra replies, “Really, it will not repeat itself.”

Mostafa is a freelance photographer associated with Reuters, which published his photos of the soldier’s lynching. Amra is also a freelancer whose photo of a bulldozer breaking down a section of the Gaza border fence was published with a credit of “Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.”

Incitement to Genocide
“Having been witness to the crimes themselves, and what was going on, and being witness to the genocide, to then be a party to this open public call to go and participate, to invade Israel, that is something which I think is without question part of at least incitement to commit the crime of genocide,” Hirsch told TPS.

He stressed that both photographers could be prosecuted in Israel under the Laws of the Prevention of Genocide and its Punishment.

“If they are arrested alive, they could be indicted for a crime which carries a death sentence,” Hirsch explained.

Hirsch drew a distinction between legitimate journalism and the photographs Mostafa and Amra took that day.

“I don’t think it’s legitimate journalism to join in and commit a genocidal act. It’s all a question of intent,” he said. “If your purpose is to then report on those committing the genocide and expose committing the genocide, that’s one thing. But if the intent is to glorify the actions of those committing genocide, you’re not fulfilling your journalistic function. You are acting as a propaganda branch of the genocidal terrorists. That’s not journalism at all.”

Gil Hoffman, HonestReporting’s executive director, told TPS his researchers didn’t find any indication that Mostafa and Amra had personally attacked Israelis.

“I think they would’ve bragged about it if they did. Not that I know of,” Hoffman said.

He added that he is more outraged by the fact that Reuters and Anadolu continue to maintain their relationship with the photographers.

“The people who mock 1,200 murdered are being treated as professionals by mainstream news organizations,” he said.

‘Fruits From a Poisonous Tree’
According to Prof. Eytan Gilboa, who teaches international communications at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Hamas benefited by having images of the violence broadcast far and wide.

“This is why they took pictures and videos. They transmitted videos to people inside Hamas headquarters from the atrocities to be broadcast on Al Jazeera and especially Muslim and Arab television networks,” Gilboa told TPS.

“To call these people ‘journalists’ and ‘photographers’ is a joke. Not to reveal the conditions journalists and photographers work under deceives readers and viewers. It’s a larger problem,” he said.

Gilboa described Amra and Mostafa as “propagandists working in the service of Hamas,” and stressed that many other PA Arab photographers and writers share that label, even if they didn’t cross the border on October 7. “There’s no freedom of expression in Gaza, no freedom of media. Western news services do not acknowledge to their audiences the conditions in which these Palestinians work.”

Hoffman called on Western news services to do a better job of vetting the PA Arabs they employ. In past Gaza conflicts, Israel gave foreign reporters access to Gaza, but not this time, “mostly in order to protect them.” Hoffman explained, adding, “We don’t need to have more Shireen Abu Aklehs.”

But that means news services are relying on PA Arab journalists who, at best, self-censor in fear of Hamas, and at worst, openly sympathize with terror groups like Hamas, which is why vetting them is crucial, Hoffman said.

Another issue raised is what do with the photographs Mostafa and Amra took that day.

Hirsch was unequivocal.

“Borrowing from a legal term, [their photos and footage] would all be fruits from a poison tree,” Hirsch insisted. “It’s the equivalent of buying pictures from [Nazi official] Joseph Goebbels.”


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