A Palestinian journalist working for NBC News has been arrested in Israel on suspicion of inciting terror and identifying with a terrorist organization, according to local reports. Mirvat al-Azzeh, 45, was taken into custody on Thursday after authorities discovered several Facebook posts regarding Hamas’ sneak attack on Israel on Oct. 7, which resulted in the death of more than 1,200 people.
According to the Jerusalem Post, al-Azzeh, who lives in East Jerusalem, is accused of sharing four recent Facebook posts that “incited and glorified the horrible acts committed against civilians” by Hamas. It is unclear what exactly al-Azzeh wrote in these posts, but authorities described the content as “disturbing” and “dangerous.”
In response to the news of al-Azzeh’s arrest, NBC has cut ties with the journalist. A spokesperson for the news organization stated, “We understand the material under investigation is not related to any services she provided to NBC News.” The spokesperson also added that the company was unaware of al-Azzeh’s personal social media activity before hiring her as a freelance producer around Oct. 21.
Al-Azzeh, who has been a journalist since September 2018, had most recently published an article on Nov. 12, reporting on the shortage of resources at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where newborn babies were dying. She was arrested after she surrendered herself to authorities, with her cellphone left behind but phone numbers written on her leg.
Al-Azzeh has reportedly admitted to the offenses and is fully cooperating with the investigation. Her lawyer, representing her at the Jerusalem Magistrate Court, said, “She was asked during her investigation about her employment. She did not attempt to conceal the offenses or claim that her accounts had been hacked.”
Al-Azzeh’s detention was extended an additional four days at the Friday hearing, although it is not yet clear how much jail time she may be facing. This arrest comes in the wake of other mainstream media outlets engaging with journalists who have expressed anti-semitic sentiments in the past. In April, al-Azzeh had shared a video detailing her own experience of being assaulted at a West Bank hospital and facing pressure from authorities to drop her complaint against her attacker.
This incident follows reports of The New York Times rehiring a filmmaker in order to cover the Israeli-Hamas war. This filmmaker, Soliman Hijjy, had praised Hitler on social media as recently as 2018. Western media outlets, including Reuters, the Associated Press, CNN, and the New York Times, were also recently criticized by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for cooperating with photojournalists embedded with Hamas during the Oct. 7 massacre.
In response, CNN parted ways with a freelancer who was photographed receiving a kiss from a Hamas leader. As this case unfolds, it raises questions about the ethical responsibilities of journalists and the importance of unbiased reporting in a highly polarized and volatile political climate.