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AP, Reuters, CNN disavow foreknowledge of Israel attack

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By Nicole Wells  From Newsmax

The Associated Press, Reuters, and CNN on Thursday disavowed any foreknowledge of the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel that killed more than 1,400 Israelis and left hundreds more injured or taken hostage by the Palestinian militant group.

The international news agencies were responding to a report by Jerusalem-based media watchdog HonestReporting, which suggested that six freelance photojournalists in Gaza may have been able to document the attack so quickly because they were informed in advance of Hamas’ deadly incursion.

“The Associated Press had no knowledge of the Oct. 7 attacks before they happened,” the outlet said in a statement. “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.”

On Thursday, Reuters issued a statement saying it “categorically denies” any prior knowledge of Hamas’ murderous plan.

“We are aware of a report by HonestReporting and accusations made against two freelance photographers who contributed to Reuters coverage of the Oct. 7 attack,” the news agency said. “Reuters categorically denies that it had prior knowledge of the attack or that we embedded journalists with Hamas on Oct 7.”

“Reuters acquired photographs from two Gaza-based freelance photographers who were at the border on the morning of Oct. 7, with whom it did not have a prior relationship. 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.”

According to HonestReporting, Hassan Eslaiah, who has worked for both the AP and CNN, crossed into Israel and took photos of a burning Israeli tank, as well as Hamas fighters entering Kibbutz Kfar Azza.

HonestReporting obtained a screenshot of a now-deleted tweet on Eslaiah’s X (formerly Twitter) account that, when translated from the original Arabic, reportedly read, “Live from inside the Gaza Strip settlements.” He was not identified as a member of the press in the screenshots of the photos or video he reportedly posted.

The watchdog account also posted a photo of Eslaiah on X being side-hugged and kissed on the cheek by reported Hamas leader and mastermind of the Oct. 7 massacre, Yahya Sinwar.

The AP said Thursday it is “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.”

Following the report, CNN told Ynet News the outlet had decided to cut ties with Eslaiah.

“We are aware of the article and photo concerning Hassan Eslaiah, a freelance photojournalist who has worked with a number of international and Israeli outlets,” CNN said. “While we have not at this time found reason to doubt the journalistic accuracy of the work he has done for us, we have decided to suspend all ties with him.”

Nicole Wells | [email protected]

Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.

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