With Israeli airstrikes on Gaza killing at least twenty Palestinian journalists—and the Biden administration working to muzzle others—Big Tech is quietly coordinating with Tel Aviv to muzzle Palestinian media outfits.
Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip killed three Palestinian journalists on October 25 in one of the deadliest days for local reporters since the military’s bombing campaign began nearly three weeks before. As the hours passed, footage appeared showing the moment Ramallah-based journalist Mohammed Farra learned that his wife and children were all killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza’s Khan Younes neighborhood.
Similarly heart-rending scenes would play out more than once over the course of the day. Elsewhere in the besieged coastal enclave, an Israeli airstrike killed the wife, son, daughter and infant grandson of Al Jazeera Arabic’s Gaza bureau chief, Wael Dahdouh.
Aljazeera’ s brave veteran journalist Wael Dahdouh’s wife, son and daughter were killed in an Israelis airstrike which targeted a shelter house they had fled to. Wael received the news while on air covering the nonstop Israeli strikes on Gaza! pic.twitter.com/yT7jYdG8jn
— Mohamed Moawad (@moawady) October 25, 2023
Israel’s attacks on Palestinian journalists came hours after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured “American Jewish community leaders” that he urged Qatar’s government “to tone down Al Jazeera’s rhetoric about the war in Gaza” during a recent trip to Doha.
Suspicions that Israeli forces deliberately targeted Dahdouh’s family were quickly bolstered by comments from News 13 journalist Zvi Yehezkeli.
“Generally we know the target,” Yehezkeli told audiences within hours of the strike, adding, “for example, today there was a target: the family of an Al Jazeera reporter.”
“In general, we know,” he concluded.
Channel 13 journalist Zvi Yehezkeli admits Israel purposefully and premeditatedly murdered the family of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh: “Generally we know the target. For example, today there was a target: the family of an Al Jazeera reporter. In general, we know.” https://t.co/sOJk8uNMMc
— David Sheen (@davidsheen) October 26, 2023
If true, it wouldn’t be the first time the Dahdouh’s outlet found itself in Israeli crosshairs. In 2021, the Israeli military leveled the Gaza tower that housed the officers of both the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. The following year, Israeli forces assassinated renowned Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh, a veteran Jerusalem-based correspondent for Al Jazeera, in a shooting that drew international condemnation but was largely ignored by the US government, which echoes the Israeli government’s position that her killing was “unintentional.” Under Blinken, the State Department has distanced itself from its initial expressions of outrage and no longer calls for either an independent investigation or criminal charges for the perpetrators.
Big Tech censorship targets Palestinian journalists after Israel targets their homes
As the US and Israel rush to censor the voice of Palestinian journalists, Big Tech censorship has proven indispensable to Israel’s propaganda war. In the aftermath of October 7, multiple social media platforms have suspended or deactivated profiles belonging to numerous prominent journalists, human rights advocates, and Palestinian activists. The crackdown follows years of complaints alleging double standards when it comes to anti-Zionist content on social media.
Accounts operated by Eye On Palestine disappeared from Instagram, Facebook, and X on October 25, leaving more than 6 million followers unable to access one of the most popular resources providing firsthand footage of destruction in Gaza. A spokesman for Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, insisted the suspensions were not politically motivated, asserting “We did not disable these accounts because of any content they were sharing.”
Despite Meta’s denial, it is worth recalling the company’s record of complying with Israeli government censorship requests. Following the approval of a so-called “Facebook Bill” aimed at clamping down on digital “incitement” in 2016, fanatical former Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked bragged that Facebook, Twitter and Google were complying with 70 percent of their takedown orders.
Tamer Al Mishal, a Palestinian journalist who has served as a crucial Gaza-based news source for many years, put a face to that statistic. In September, Al Mishal made waves when he published an exposé on Al Jazeera illustrating how Meta coordinated with Israeli intelligence to stifle pro-Palestinian content. When he attempted to access his social media profile days later, the reporter made an alarming discovery: his Facebook page had completely ceased to exist.
He wasn’t the only one. The week before, Meta suspended the Instagram account of Palestinian influencer and photojournalist Motaz Azaiza after he shared footage of the remnants of his apartment building, where 15 of his family members were killed in an Israeli airstrikes.
“Palestinian journalists in Gaza are not just facing the Israeli occupation,” Shadi Abdelrahman, a local reporter with years of experience covering events in Gaza from the ground, explained to The Grayzone. “They also have to overcome a lot of censorship by Facebook, YouTube,” he told The Grayzone, adding: “anything on social media, they need to be very careful because they will get their accounts banned.”…