CNN and AP Do the Right Thing, Cut Ties With Photographer Who Embedded With Hamas

AP Photo/Abed Abu Reash

On Wednesday a bombshell report was published claiming that several Gaza-based freelance photojournalists who work with AP, CNN, Reuters, and the New York Times were embedded with Hamas at the time they carried out surprise attacks in Israel on October 7, meaning that they would have had advance knowledge of the plans. Now CNN has cut ties with one of the photojournalists, Hassan Eslaiah, surprisingly doing the right thing.


As our Brad Slager wrote:

Many of the images from the Associated Press on that day represent a unique position by these Gaza-based photographers, as they captured activities by Hamas. In one shot from Hassan Eslaiah, he recorded a moment when Palestinians were breaching the fence into the Kibbutz Kfar Azzar region. This indicates some prior knowledge and might even indicate his own illegal entry into the country. Eslaiah later took images of an Israeli tank, which was attacked inside the Israel border. Honest Reporting's report notes that, curiously, "[Eslaiah] did not wear a press vest or a helmet, and the Arabic caption of his tweet read: 'Live from inside the Gaza Strip settlements.'”

Eslaiah was also pictured with a grenade in his hand, and embracing a Hamas leader.

Daily Mail contacted all of the outlets Eslaiah had worked with for a response to the report. 

In response to the criticism, a CNN spokesperson told 'We had no prior knowledge of the October 7th attacks. Hassan Eslaiah, who was a freelance journalist working for us and many other outlets, was not working for the network on October 7th. As of today, we have severed all ties with him.' 


The Associated Press also denied having prior knowledge of the attacks, and has also severed ties with Eslaiah. A statement sent to Daily Mail reads:

The first pictures AP received from any freelancer show they were taken more than an hour after the attacks began. No AP staff were at the border at the time of the attacks, nor did any AP staffer cross the border at any time. 

We are no longer working with Hassan Eslaiah, who had been an occasional freelancer for AP and other international news organizations in Gaza. AP uses images taken by freelancers around the world. When we accept freelance photos, we take great steps to verify the authenticity of the images and that they show what is purported. The role of the AP is to gather information on breaking news events around the world, wherever they happen, even when those events are horrific and cause mass casualties.

Eslaiah snapped this photo near the Gaza border shortly after Hamas militants entered Israel, and sold it to Reuters.

Reuters also denied having prior knowledge, telling Daily Mail:

In response to the reporters, a Reuters spokesperson said that the agency acquired pictures on October 7 from photographers that it did not previously have a relationship with. 

'The photographs published by Reuters were taken two hours after Hamas fired rockets across southern Israel and more than 45 minutes after Israel said gunmen had crossed the border. Reuters staff journalists were not on the ground at the locations referred to in the HonestReporting article,' the statement also reads.


It seems that another avenue of Hamas funding has been uncovered - allow your comms team to sell exclusive photos to media outlets. 



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