Hamas honors Al Jazeera for coverage of conflict with Israel

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The Palestinian terror group Hamas honored Al Jazeera on Tuesday for the Qatar-based news organization’s coverage of its recent conflict with Israel.

American Jewish Committee managing director of global communications Avi Mayer noticed the announcement on Hamas’ Arab-language website and took to Twitter. 

“Holy crap: Al Jazeera has accepted an award from Hamas for its coverage of the recent hostilities between the terrorist group and Israel. Here the Qatari network’s Gaza bureau chief, Wael al-Dahdouh, is shown receiving the award from Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of Hamas in Gaza,” Mayer wrote to caption an image from the Hamas website. 

“That a major media outlet has accepted an award for its news coverage from a designated terrorist group should raise alarm bells among all who are concerned about freedom of the press,” Mayer told Fox News. “This revelation raises serious questions about the relationship between Al Jazeera and Hamas and how it might affect media coverage of one of the most contentious conflicts in the world. Viewers deserve to know.”

The website, which is registered to the Hamas movement within the Palestinian internet naming authority, features an entry with the same image shared by Mayer. 

“Al Jazeera Al-Qatari worked with high professionalism during its coverage of the ‘Sword of Jerusalem’ battle and demonstrated its affiliation with the cause of the oppressed Palestinian people,” Hamas deputy Khalil al-Hayya said, according to an English translation. 

The news comes as hundreds of journalists, including some from Al Jazeera, signed an open letter this week calling for even more vitriolic anti-Israel coverage.

The Hamas site reported that al-Hayya told Al Jazeera staffers during the visit that the group is “proud of the active Al Jazeera crews” who have “proven that they are the knights of speech and sacrifice during the coverage of the events.”

“What distinguishes the Palestinian journalist [from others] is that he has a national message … we saw a high level of nationalism and a national tone in Al Jazeera’s coverage,” al-Hayya continued, according to The Times of Israel. 

The Jerusalem-based online newspaper added that Al Jazeera “has long been accused of having an anti-Israeli, anti-American slant in its coverage.” 

Israel leveled the Gaza media tower, which housed Al Jazeera’s bureau, in an air strike last month at the height of the conflict. As a result, the meeting took place in the “temporary bureau” of Al Jazeera in Gaza, according to the Times of Israel. 

The strike drew howls of outrage from the press, but some Middle East voices said the Israeli airstrike on the building would be justified by the explanation.

“Hamas deliberately embeds itself among the press to shield its terrorism against Israel,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee tweeted. “Defeating terrorism is necessary for peace.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UN and US Gilad Erdan told the Associated Press on Monday that Hamas was using its now destroyed Gaza building to obstruct the Iron Dome missile defense system, according to the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel.

The Hamas website indicated that Al Jazeera will not be the only media outlet honored by the group. 

“It is noteworthy that the visit comes within a series of continuous visits carried out by the media relations of Hamas to honor the media for their role in covering the battle of ‘Sword of Jerusalem,’” the Hamas site announced. 

Al Jazeera did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Fox News’ Cortney O’Brien contributed to this report. 

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