French Gaza Reporter Ducks for Cover as Hamas Rocket Interrupts Broadcast
Journalists reporting live on the scene from Gaza face the innumerable challenges of daily life for Palestinians there, including the constant threat of errant rocket fire from the terror group Hamas, which operates deep in the infrastructure of the area. On the news network France 24, reporter Maha Abu Al-Kas had her broadcast interrupted by a shock of white light and the unmistakeable sound of a rocket.
Al-Kas was reporting live on the French television network, updating viewers on the daily developments in Gaza on July 31. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translated the clip, in which Al-Kas reports, among other updates, the deaths of three journalists who had been injured reporting from the area. Amid detailing the dire state of Gaza's al-Shifa hospital, Al-Kas can be seen ducking as the light of a rocket illuminates the camera frame.
Al-Kas is far from the only journalist to get too close for comfort with the looming Hamas terrorist threat, though her encounter may be the most vividly chronicled. Journalists who have since returned from Gaza have told of numerous threats from the terrorist group to distort the truth to make Hamas look good and demonize Israel. Italian journalist Gabriele Barbati, for example, tweeted upon his arrival home to confirm that Hamas, not Israeli soldiers, had struck the Shati refugee camp, killing children. He had previously tweeted that Hamas was responsible for the attack while still in Gaza but deleted his report. His later tweet, which noted that he was now far "from Hamas retaliation," indicated that he would not have felt safe reporting the news should he be near Hamas at all.
Other journalists – both international and American, such as one reporter from the Wall Street Journal – have reported being harassed by the group to misreport the news in their favor. According to the Times of Israel, a reporter for the French newspaper Quest France reported that he had been "interrogated and intimidated by Hamas officials in what appeared to be their office in Shifa." An unnamed Israeli official corroborated his point: “We have no doubt that Hamas, through coercion and violence, limits the freedom of foreign journalists in Gaza."
Photojournalists are also in danger. According to a Spanish journalist speaking to Israeli filmmaker Michael Grynszpan, one major reason that most of the images surfacing from Gaza are of injured women and children is because Hamas threatens with death anyone who dares photograph their fighters, who are a multitude throughout the region. "We did see Hamas people there launching rockets," explained the unnamed journalist, "they were close to our hotel, but if we ever dare pointing [sic] our camera on them they would simply shoot at us and kill us."