Israel Condemns US Award For Handing Prize to Photographer with ‘Hamas Ties’

Gaza city destruction
Smoke, flames, and rocket salvoes after Israeli forces hit a high-rise tower in Gaza City in November.

Israel has condemned a U.S. journalism award for handing a top prize to a photographer who was allegedly embedded with Hamas during the October 7 attack.

Last week, Photographer Yousef Masoud won the prestigious George Polk award for photojournalism for his images of the Israel-Hamas conflict for The New York Times.

Masoud was awarded the prize alongside another freelance photojournalist named Samar Abu Elouf.

“The award for Photojournalism goes to Samar Abu Elouf and Yousef Masoud of The New York Times for chronicling Israel’s bombardment and invasion of their homeland, Gaza,” writes the committee for the George Polk award.

“The two photographed the conflict from its opening hours on Oct. 7 until they escaped the territory exactly two months later.”

However, according to The Times of Israel, Israel’s Foreign Ministry has slammed the committee of the U.S. photojournalism award for giving the prize to Masoud — claiming that he has public connections to Hamas and allegedly knew the terrorist organization’s plans to attack the country on October 7 in advance.

According to Honest Reporting, an Israeli website founded by a veteran journalist by the name of Gil Hoffman, Masoud allegedly claimed he was woken up at 05:30 am by rocket fire — even though the firing only started an hour later.

“I am writing to express grave concern over your 2024 George Polk Award selections,” Itay Milner, a spokesperson for the Consulate General of Israel in New York, writes in a letter to the award committee.

“Equally troubling is the specific awarding of Yousef Masoud, whose public connections to Hamas and well-documented foreknowledge of the terror group’s plans for invasion mortally compromise the integrity of his reporting.”

“By honoring Masoud, the George Polk Awards endorse a journalist whose work is deeply tainted, sending a dangerous message that journalistic recognition can be altogether divorced from any semblance of ethics.”

‘It is Reckless to Make Such Allegations’

However, in an open letter published on Saturday, The New York Times denied the accusations made by Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

“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 reads.

“It is reckless to make such allegations, putting our journalists on the ground in Israel and Gaza at risk.”

The publication accused Honest Reporting of making “vague allegations” and argued that the publication’s claim that Massoud began shooting photos before the October 7 attack began is 05:30 as false.

“The basis for Honest Reporting’s claim is a fabrication: that Mr. Masoud began shooting pictures at 5:30 when the attack began an hour later. Wrong,” writes The New York Times.

“Mr. Masoud, we know from the photographic evidence, began shooting photographs after 06:30 — from his home’s rooftop with the fighting visible in the distance – when the noise of combat awoke him.”

Last week, several survivors of the October 7 attacks on Israel sued the Associated Press (AP) for hiring freelance photojournalists who are allegedly “embedded with Hamas.”

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.