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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Al Jazeera journalist is ‘Hamas commander,’ IDF claims

The Israeli military has accused a Palestinian reporter working with the Qatari network of also operating as a senior militant

A Palestinian journalist working for Al Jazeera is simultaneously working as a senior militant with the Hamas group, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has claimed, publishing imagery that purports to incriminate the reporter.

The allegation was presented on Sunday by Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, an Arabic-language spokesman for the IDF, who published assorted images allegedly showing network reporter Mohamed Washah handling military hardware during apparent Hamas training exercises. The weaponry Washah is said to have handled included a mounted RPG and associated homemade warheads, as well as a crude strike-drone.

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“In the morning, he’s a journalist on the Al Jazeera channel, and in the evening, a terrorist in Hamas!” Adraee claimed.

The incriminating imagery was recovered from a laptop seized a few weeks ago from a Hamas compound in the north of Gaza, the spokesman claimed. Documents recovered from the laptop indicated that the journalist was actually a “prominent commander” of an anti-tank unit with Hamas, as well as a member of its air unit’s research and development group since late 2022, Adraee went on to suggest.

The spokesman also hinted at more revelations about alleged Hamas militants disguised as journalists in the near future. “Who knows how many details we will reveal about the presence of other terrorists in journalistic garb soon,” he wrote.

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Washah has been featured in multiple Al Jazeera broadcasts from the region in recent months. So far neither the broadcaster nor the reporter himself have provided any public comment on the IDF’s allegations.

Hours after Adraee leveled the accusation against the journalist, the Knesset advanced a bill that would empower government to shut down foreign media operating in Israel and confiscate their equipment, should the country’s defense minister deem an organization to be “an actual harm to the state’s security.”

Last month, two Al Jazeera journalists, Hamza Wael Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuria, who also worked for AFP, were killed in an Israeli air strike on their car in Rafah, in southern Gaza. A third reporter, Hazem Rajab, was seriously wounded in the attack.

The IDF, however, accused the two slain journalists of being members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The Israeli military claimed the ‘terrorists’ were traveling in a car along with a “terror operative,” who was using a drone at the moment of the air strike.

In May 2022 the IDF shot dead the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, while the 25-year Al Jazeera veteran reporter was covering an Israeli incursion into the Jenin refugee camp.

The latest incident involving Al Jazeera reporters occurred on Tuesday, when a correspondent and a cameraman working with him near Rafah were targeted in an apparent Israeli airstrike. Both reporters received serious injuries, according to the broadcaster, with the correspondent, Ismail Abu Omar, losing a leg as a result.