The heroic rescue of four Israeli hostages after eight months of captivity brought an uncomfortable reality to the fore: Hamas and other terrorist groups’ systematic domination of Gazan media. Soon after the extraction, it became increasingly clear that a Gazan “civilian”—who also doubled as a Hamas operative and a frequent contributor to a U.S.-based, tax-exempt media platform—was holding three of the hostages in his family home.

Roughly 24 hours after special forces from deep inside Gaza’s Nuseirat neighborhood saved Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, Andrey Kozlov, and Almog Meir Jan, I surmised that one of the likely hostage-takers was Abdallah Al-Jamal, a contributor to the Palestine Chronicle, a subsidiary of a 501(c)(3) called People Media Project. According to a Facebook page bearing his name, Al-Jamal had also served as a spokesman for Hamas’s Ministry of Labor.

The Israel Defense Forces later confirmed that Al-Jamal had held three of the four rescued Israelis hostage. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith has demanded that the IRS revoke the People Media Project’s tax-exempt status, but the Biden administration and Department of Justice have yet to address the matter publicly.

This is far from the first reported infiltration of Gaza’s media apparatus. As I reported previously, Al Jazeera’s Ismail Abu Omar “was simultaneously serving as a deputy company commander for Hamas’s eastern battalion in the southern city of Khan Younis.” Hamza Dahdouh, another Al Jazeera journalist and cameraman killed in the conflict, was a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. These cases are not anomalies but part of a broader trend of terrorist organizations strategically cultivating media narratives.

Earlier this week, the Washington Examiner discovered that Hamas has been training Gazan journalists for years. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), another U.S.-designated terrorist organization, likewise conducted a series of journalism courses between 2006 and 2012. Many more such courses likely have not yet been identified. Regardless of the total, the fact that terrorists are organizing such programs demonstrates their concerted effort to mold the emerging Gaza narrative.

Even reputable media institutions aren’t immune from terrorist influence. For example, as previously noted in City Journal, PFLP’s 2012 courses featured an instructor named Samar Abu Elouf, a freelance photojournalist for the New York Times. Moreover, back in 2009, according to the Al-Rai Palestinian Media Agency, the Hamas Ministry of Information visited the headquarters of the BBC in Gaza, where officials met with BBC journalist Rashdi Abu Al-Auf and “discussed ways of cooperation and communication.”

The American corporate media is nevertheless reluctant to admit that terrorists and journalists in Gaza work hand in glove. In the aftermath of the hostage rescue, for example, CNN’s headline read, “Israel alleges journalist held hostages in Gaza, without providing evidence,” which the outlet failed to amend even after the hostages confirmed that Abdallah Al-Jamal was one of their captors.

This is no accident. It is part of Hamas’s longstanding strategy of utilizing unwitting international media to forward its agenda. By suggesting that Israel is baselessly targeting media professionals, CNN fell right into Hamas’s well-laid trap.

According to Israel’s Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Hamas has even published a manual with strict instructions for journalists in Gaza about what, and how, they are supposed to report—including what not to report. Rule five, for example, states: “Do not publicize [information about] and do not share pictures or video clips showing rocket launching sites or the movement of resistance [operatives] in Gaza.” The center also discovered that the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Journalist Bloc had instructed Gaza correspondents working for international outlets “not to photograph or publicize information about rockets fired by military-terrorist operatives belonging to the various organizations so as not to play into the hands of Israeli public diplomacy.”

Given the overwhelming evidence of terrorist control of Gazan media, policymakers and media outlets should approach reports emanating from Gaza skeptically. At minimum, they need to acknowledge the obvious: Hamas and other malefactors are using the media to abet their war against Israel.

Photo by Hani Alshaer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


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