Al Jazeera under pressure after Israel says reporter held three hostages in home on behalf of Hamas

This is not the first time the network, which is funded largely by the government of Qatar, has come under scrutiny for close ties to terrorist groups. The reporter who held the hostages was also a spokesman for Gaza's Hamas-run labor ministry.

Published: June 11, 2024 11:00pm

The Qatari-funded media agency Al Jazeera is facing pressure after Israel accused a reporter who wrote for the agency of holding three Israelis hostage in his family home before he was killed during a weekend rescue operation.

Abdallah Aljamal, who wrote for Al Jazeera and worked as a spokesman for Gaza's Hamas-run labor ministry, was killed when Israel Defense Forces troops entered his central Gaza home over the weekend and rescued hostages Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andri Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41, according to Israeli officials.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor leader Rami Abdu first reported Aljamal's death in a post on X, stating that the Israeli army used a ladder to enter the home of Aljamal's father, Dr. Ahmed Aljamal, who was also killed in the raid. The operation also resulted in the rescue of hostage Noa Argamani, although she was kept in a different location than the three men.

All of the hostages who were rescued were beaten while in Hamas captivity and are malnourished, according to Dr. Itai Pessach, who is the doctor in charge of their medical treatment.

"It was a harsh, harsh, experience, with a lot of abuse, almost every day," Pessach told CNN on Monday. "Every hour, both physical, mental, and other types, and that is something that is beyond comprehension." 

The four hostages told Pessach they were moved several times and held by various guards, so it is unclear how long the three men were held by the Aljamal family.

The Palestine Chronicle, to which the younger Aljamal also contributed, mourned his death and pointed to arguments by anti-Israel commentators claiming that reports that the Aljamal family held hostages in their home were false. 

Al Jazeera said Sunday that Aljamal "has never worked with the Network, but had contributed to an Op-ed in 2019," although his profile on Al Jazeera's website describes him a "Gaza-based reporter and photojournalist."

The network also said allegations against Aljamal are "completely unfounded" and are "a continuation of the process of slander and misinformation aimed at harming Al Jazeera's reputation, professionalism, and independence."

This is not the first time the network has come under pressure from Israel. The Israeli government unanimously voted last month to close Al Jazeera's offices in Israel due to security concerns. 

The issue goes beyond a few bad actors associated with the network.

Although Al Jazeera's English-language network has been accused of leaning in favor of the left and promoting an anti-Israel narrative, its Arabic-language network is far more hostile toward Israel. 

For example, on Tuesday, the network's English-language article featuring "Live Updates" from the Israel-Gaza war had the headline, "UN chief calls for ceasefire agreement," with the first sentence stating: "Calling the conditions in Gaza 'deplorable', UN chief Antonio Guterres tells Israel and Hamas to come to an agreement on a ceasefire proposal outlined late last month by the US."

At the same time, the Arabic-language live-updates article used the headline, "New losses for the occupation and the Palestinian factions respond to the ceasefire proposal," with the first sentence of the article stating, as translated: "On the 249th day of the Israeli aggression on Gaza, the occupation army continued to bomb multiple areas of the Gaza Strip, while the Ministry of Health confirmed that the occupation committed 3 massacres that claimed the lives of 40 martyrs and 120 wounded in the past 24 hours."

The term "occupation," is used to refer to the Israel Defense Forces, while the "Israeli aggression" refers to Israel's war against Hamas in response to the Oct. 7, 2023, terrorist attack that killed about 1,200 people and resulted in the kidnapping of about 250 others, many of whom still remain captive. Additionally, the term "martyrs" refers to any Palestinian – civilian or combatant – killed during fighting against Israel or Jews in general.

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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