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Hamas Harassed Foreign Reporters, GPO Announces

Government Press Office has 'testimony' of Hamas abusing foreign press, one week after Italian journalist breaks media silence.
By Tova Dvorin and Ari Soffer
First Publish: 8/6/2014, 5:51 PM

Hamas terrorists
Hamas terrorists
Flash 90

Several foreign journalists have claimed to have been harassed by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge, the Government Press Office (GPO) announced Wednesday. 

"Upon the conclusion of the operation, the GPO accumulated testimony by foreign journalists regarding harassment by Hamas activists regarding the carrying out of their assignments," the GPO stated.

"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 because they had documented criminal activity by Hamas such as the launching of rockets from the heart of civilian areas."

According to the GPO statement, 705 foreign journalists from over 42 countries have been covering the conflict since it began on July 8. It did not specify how many of those journalists filed the complaints.

Rumors of Hamas suppressing foreign journalists from reporting on their use of human shields in Gaza - or on their inclusion of Hamas terrorists in the number of "civilian casualties" there - have persisted since the conflict broke. 

However, at least one journalist confirmed this harassment policy last week, after safely returning home from reporting on the clashes.

Italian journalist Gabriele Barbati noted he was safe from "Hamas retaliation" after he returned home to Italy, tweeting that a misfired rocket - not Israel - was behind ten reported deaths in the Shati refugee camp. 

Other incidents of suppressed reporting have surfaced as well. Earlier in the fighting, Wall Street Journal reported Nick Casey tweeted evidence - and veiled criticism - over Hamas's leadership's use of Shifa Hospital in Gaza as a command center, shedding more light on the group's use of human shields.

Hamas reacted furiously, and a Hamas-affiliated twitter account blacklisted him as a journalist "who lies for Israel" - a potentially deadly accusation for anyone in Gaza, let alone a foreigner. Shortly afterwards, Casey promptly removed the tweet.