update deskIsrael at War

NBC cuts ties with freelancer who glorified Oct. 7 Hamas massacre

Marvat Azzeh wrote on Facebook about a hostage: "It's killing me. It's a black comedy. The old woman looks happy, a bit of action before she dies."

Journalists tour Kibbutz Kfar Aza near the Israel-Gaza border, Nov. 2, 2023. Photo by Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90.
Journalists tour Kibbutz Kfar Aza near the Israel-Gaza border, Nov. 2, 2023. Photo by Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90.

Israeli police arrested Marvat Azzeh, an NBC News freelance journalist in Jerusalem, last week for glorifying Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 people in Israel. The network subsequently cut ties with her, it confirmed on Monday.

Azzeh, of the eastern part of Jerusalem, is accused of “inciting and glorying” Hamas’s cross-border slaughter on social media, per the Israel Police.

NBC stated that the police is investigating Azzeh for personal Facebook posts that predated her time freelancing for the network.

“We were not aware of those posts before we engaged Ms. Azzeh four weeks ago,” NBC stated. “She will not be contributing to our coverage going forward.” (NBC did not appear to append any updates or clarifications to her prior work.)

“It’s killing me. It’s a black comedy. The old woman looks happy, a bit of action before she dies,” Azzeh reportedly wrote on Facebook, of an elderly Israeli woman kidnapped to Gaza.

In another post, she wrote: “I feel like I’m watching a movie where the director is Palestinian and the protagonists are from Gaza.” In a third post, she stated: “Sirens all the time, the Jews are hiding and the Arabs are out drinking coffee on their balconies.”

“These are extremely grave offenses during a war, committed by someone who lives and works in a country that is under attack, yet chooses to incite and glorify the terrible acts committed against civilians,” an Israel Police representative noted at Azzeh’s remand hearing.

NBC hired Azzeh as a freelance producer around Oct. 21, a source close to the situation told the New York Post on Monday.

Her most recent byline, dated Nov. 12, cited Hamas officials claiming that premature babies at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital are dying “as power fails and resources run out” amid Israel’s counterterror operation against Hamas terrorists.

Earlier this month, HonestReporting raised “ethical questions” regarding six freelance photographers who were present during Hamas’s Oct. 7 murder spree, and whose work the Associated Press and Reuters sold to other publications.

The placement of Hassan Eslaiah, Yousef Masoud, Ali Mahmud, Hatem Ali, Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa and Yasser Qudih raised questions about how much and when they knew about Hamas’s plans, the media watchdog said in an analysis.

HonestReporting published screenshots of since-deleted social media posts, in which Eslaiah stood before the Israeli tank without a press vest or helmet. He captioned the image in Arabic: “Live from inside the Gaza Strip settlements.”

After the report was published, a video resurfaced that was published on Eslaiah’s Facebook account in which he rides a motorcycle holding a grenade. A separate photo surfaced of Eslaiah with Yahya Sinwar, a Hamas leader in Gaza and mastermind of the Oct. 7 massacre.

“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?” HonestReporting wrote. “Some sort of communication was undoubtedly necessary—before, after or during the attack—in order to get the photos published.”

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