update deskOctober 7

‘AP’ photographer accused of working with Hamas wins prestigious award

The Pictures of the Year award honored photographer Ali Mahmud for a photo showing the half-naked body of Shani Louk being abducted to Gaza.

Shani Louk. Source: X.
Shani Louk. Source: X.

A photo taken by an Associated Press freelancer accused of being embedded with Hamas during the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 massacre in southern Israel was awarded a prestigious prize.

The Pictures of the Year award, a decades-old initiative of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, honored the AP and photographer Ali Mahmud for a picture showing the half-naked body of Shani Louk, 22, being abducted to the Gaza Strip after Hamas terrorists murdered her at the Supernova music festival.

According to the official website of Pictures of the Year, the Team Picture Story of the Year category, in which the AP won first place, “recognizes the collaborative effort of a photography staff covering a single topic or news story. It is a narrative picture story that consists of images taken as part of a team effort to cover a single issue or news story.”

The media watchdog group HonestReporting raised questions at the end of last year about how much six freelance photographers working for the AP and The New York Times, including Mahmud, knew about the attacks ahead of time.

“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?” asked the NGO.

Sarcastically congratulating the AP, HonestReporting tweeted on March 22: “How does it feel to do so on the back of Palestinian photojournalists who infiltrated Israel on Oct. 7 and took photos like the one below of Shani Louk’s dead body in a Hamas pickup?”

Meanwhile, Louk’s father emphasized the importance of documenting Hamas’s crimes for future generations. “This is history. In 100 years, they will look and know what happened here,” Ynet quoted Nissim Louk as saying.

The National Public Diplomacy Directorate in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement in November saying it “views with utmost gravity that photojournalists working with international media joined in covering the brutal acts of murder perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on Saturday, October 7th, in the communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip.”

The statement continued, “These journalists were accomplices in crimes against humanity; their actions were contrary to professional ethics,” and demanded that action be taken against the photographers.

Late last month, the National Jewish Advocacy Center filed a lawsuit against the Associated Press due to its payments to the freelance photographers who joined Hamas on the cross-border terrorist rampage.

Those named in the lawsuit who sold their work to the AP include Mahmoud, Yousef Masoud, Hatem Ali and Hassan Eslayeh. Plaintiffs in the suit include those who survived the terrorist onslaught at the music festival as well as family members of some of the 364 people murdered there.

The suit states: “There is no doubt that AP‘s photographers participated in the October 7th massacre, and that AP knew, or at the very least should have known, through simple due diligence, that the people they were paying were longstanding Hamas affiliates and full participants in the terrorist attack that they were also documenting.”

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