New York Times denies 'outrageous' allegations journalist was working with Hamas

Freelance reporters for the New York Times, CNN and Associated Press are claimed to have had advance warning of the October 7 attack


The New York Times has denied that a photographer who has worked for the paper collaborated with Hamas during the October 7 massacre in southern Israel.

According to Israeli media watchdog HonestReporting, several freelance Palestinian reporters and photographers for Western news outlets including the New York Times, the Associated Press and CNN may have had advance knowledge of Hamas’s invasion of Israel.

In an article published on Wednesday, the group questioned how journalists Hassan Eslaiah, Yousef Masoud, Ali Mahmud, and Hatem Ali had crossed into Israel so soon after the attack began.

They wrote: “Judging from the pictures of lynching, kidnapping, and storming of an Israeli kibbutz, it seems like the border has been breached not only physically, but also journalistically.”

The article also asked: “Is it conceivable to assume that ‘journalists’ just happened to appear early in the morning at the border without prior coordination with the terrorists? 

“Or were they part of the plan? Even if they didn’t know the exact details of what was going to happen, once it unfolded did they not realize they were breaching a border? And if so, did they notify the news agencies?”

Both CNN and the Associated Press say they have cut ties with Hassan Eslaiah after a photo emerged of him being embraced by Hamas’s Gaza strip leader Yahya Sinwar, who planned the October 7 attack.

In a video published to his own Facebook page, the photographer can be seen riding on the back of a motorbike carrying what appears to be a grenade during the early hours of October 7.


Writing on X/Twitter on Thursday, former diplomat Danny Danon said that the reporters who entered Israel would be treated as enemy combatants by the IDF.

He wrote: “Israel's internal security agency announced that they will eliminate all participants of the October 7 massacre. 

“The ‘photojournalists’ who took part in recording the assault will be added to that list.”

Benny Gantz, a member of the war cabinet, said in an X/Twitter: “Journalists found to have known about the massacre – and still chose to stand as idle bystanders while children were slaughtered – are no different than terrorists and should be treated as such.”

The outlets employing the Gazan freelancers have pushed back aggressively against claims that they had any advance warning of the attack, however.

An AP spokesperson said: "The Associated Press had no knowledge of the October 7 attacks before they happened. 

“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."

Reuters meanwhile denied any advance warning of the Hamas attack.

"Reuters acquired photographs from two Gaza-based freelance photographers who were at the border on the morning of October 7, with whom it did not have a prior relationship," the wire service said.

CNN said: “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.

"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.”

Israel’s Public Diplomacy Directorate said it viewed with “severity” any suggestion that reporters had been complicit in Hamas’s attack.

"These journalists were accomplices in crimes against humanity; their actions were contrary to professional ethics,” they said.

The department has sent an official complaint demanding an explanation and “immediate action” from the relevant media outlets.

In a statement, the New York Times said: "The accusation that anyone at The New York Times had advance knowledge of the Hamas attacks or accompanied Hamas terrorists during the attacks is untrue and outrageous. It is reckless to make such allegations, putting our journalists on the ground in Israel and Gaza at risk. The Times has extensively covered the Oct. 7 attacks and the war with fairness, impartiality, and an abiding understanding of the complexities of the conflict.

"The advocacy group Honest Reporting has made vague allegations about several freelance photojournalists working in Gaza, including Yousef Masoud. Though Yousef was not working for The Times on the day of the attack, he has since done important work for us. There is no evidence for Honest Reporting’s insinuations. Our review of his work shows that he was doing what photojournalists always do during major news events, documenting the tragedy as it unfolded.

"We also want to speak in defense of freelance photojournalists working in conflict areas, whose jobs often require them to rush into danger to provide first-hand witness accounts and to document important news. This is the essential role of a free press in wartime. We are gravely concerned that unsupported accusations and threats to freelancers endangers them and undermines work that serves the public interest."

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