There has been controversy in Tunisia after an Israeli TV reporter visited the country in a bid to trace the origins of Muhamad Alzawari, Hamas’ chief drone engineer who was assassinated over the weekend.
The Tunisian Association of Journalists called on the authorities to launch an investigation into how Moav Vardi, Channel 10’s diplomatic correspondent, was allowed into the country, and who assisted him in compiling his report.
The association said in a statement that Israel is an enemy state with which Tunisia should not normalize relations, and it baselessly claimed that Channel 10 helps the Israeli government cover up its “crimes” against the Palestinians.
Without citing evidence, some on social media claimed that Vardi masqueraded as a correspondent for the Al Jazeera network.
Speaking to Breitbart Jerusalem, Vardi denied using Al Jazeera and he said he felt bad about the way some were trying to turn his professional visit into an issue.
He said the Al Jazeera claims were wrongly made by some “because we showed in our report a quote that the brother of Alzawari gave to Al Jazeera so people think that we used Al Jazeera instruments.”
The visit was a hot topic on Arab social media.
“What’s the difference, really, between an Israeli channel and Al Jazeera?” Twitter user Nabil wondered. “They’re both the same – only one is in Hebrew and the other is in Arabic. Al Jazeera is Zionist, even though it broadcasts in Arabic.”
وايه الفرق بين الجزيره وقناه اسراييليه
الاثنين واحد دى بالعربى والاخري عبري
ااجزيره صهيونيه وان نطقت العربيه
— Nabil Talaat (@NabilTalaat4) December 18, 2016
“The situation is intolerable,” Marimar wrote. “Israeli secret agents and journalists walk around freely in Tunisia. Say hi to the first clause in the Tunisian constitution.”
الوضع أصبح لا يطاق .. الرقعة المسماة "اسرائيل" ترتع بإعلامها و مخابراتها و أموالها بحريّة في #تونس و سلملي على الفصل1 من الدستور (ذات سيادة)
— Marimar (͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) (@Unknowngirl1990) December 18, 2016
Others were drawn to conspiracy theories. “An Israeli journalist in Tunisia? Who allowed him in? And more importantly, did the Tunisian government have prior information about the assassination?”
مراسل اسرائيلي فى تونس ؟!!! من سمح لمراسل اسرائيلى ان يدخل تونس والسؤال الاهم هل كانت تعلم حكومة تونس مسبقا بعملية الاغتيال؟؟؟!! https://t.co/gjgy8454rX
— دروب المعرفة للترجمة (@kp_translation) December 18, 2016
Ishak Marwani tweeted: “Watch: An Israeli reporter broadcasting from outside Muhammad Alzawari’s house. In Tunisia. Watch the outrageous thing. And they talk about the freedom of the press.”
— أم البنين (@ishakmarouani) December 18, 2016
Ali Alrobai wrote: “The Israeli Mossad rubbed out a Tunisian pilot who assisted the Palestinian resistance. The question remains whether the espionage agencies of Arab countries from the ocean to the Gulf could rub out an Israeli cat.”