Update: Glenn Greenwald reports that Ayman Mohyeldin has been pulled by NBC from Gaza:
Ayman Mohyeldin… who has received widespread praise for his brave and innovative coverage of the conflict, has been told by NBC executives to leave Gaza immediately. According to an NBC source upset at his treatment, the executives claimed the decision was motivated by “security concerns” as Israel prepares a ground invasion, a claim repeated to me by an NBC executive. But late yesterday, NBC sent another correspondent, Richard Engel, along with an American producer who has never been to Gaza and speaks no Arabic, into Gaza to cover the ongoing Israeli assault.
I’m speculating that the reason for Mohyeldin’s departure might be that he yesterday tweeted implicit criticism of the US State Department, and subsequently removed the tweet from his feed.
Here’s his Facebook post, more explicitly critical, also removed:
Original post: The killing of the four Palestinian boys on the Gaza beach yesterday is resonating throughout the US mainstream media as few events from the conflict have before. A monstrosity seems to be understood as… a monstrosity.
The New York Times has a riveting account of the slaughter by Tyler Hicks, maker of the photo above– which appears at the top of the front page of the Times — stressing the complete vulnerability of children. NBC News last night was made extremely uncomfortable by the murders. Brian Williams introduced them as part of “a cycle of violence,” and on Hamas’s balance sheet; and there is a controversy over the network’s failure to include an eyewitness report from Ayman Mohyeldin.
Ayman Mohyeldin of NBC witnessed the killings. But he was not featured on the broadcast last night. Jordan Charlton at Mediabistro/TV Newser states the controversy:
We’re hearing the decision to have [Richard] Engel report the story for “Nightly” [from inside Israel] instead of Mohyeldin angered some NBC News staffers. NBC News declined to comment to TVNewser on its editorial decision.
We have praised Mohyeldin often for his bold coverage. His twitter feed continues to be blunt about atrocities:
4 Palestinian kids killed in a single Israeli airstrike. Minutes before they were killed by our hotel, I was kicking a ball with them #gaza
— Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) July 16, 2014
The killings have disturbed the D.C. establishment. Khaled Elgindy of the Brookings Institution, again from Ayman Mohyeldin’s twitter feed.
The implications of the State Dept’s absolving Israel of any/all responsibility in killing of 4 children in Gaza are simply bone chilling. — Khaled Elgindy (@elgindy_) July 16, 2014
Here is celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s tweet, also retweeted by Mohyeldin, and referring to a heartbreaking photo in the NYT by Tyler Hicks:
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) July 16, 2014
Hicks has an astonishing report up at the New York Times on making the photograph that so disturbed Anthony Bourdain. Forgive the lengthy excerpt, but this is an exceptional account in the newspaper of record.
By the time I reached the beach, I was winded from running with my heavy armor. I paused; it was too risky to go onto the exposed sand. Imagine what my silhouette, captured by an Israeli drone, might look like as a grainy image on a laptop somewhere in Israel: wearing body armor and a helmet, carrying cameras that could be mistaken for weapons. If children are being killed, what is there to protect me, or anyone else?
I watched as a group of people ran to the children’s aid. I joined them, running with the feeling that I would find safety in numbers, though I understood that feeling could be deceptive: Crowds can make things worse. We arrived at the scene to find lifeless, mangled bodies. The boys were beyond help. They had been killed instantly, and the people who had rushed to them were shocked and distraught.
Earlier in the day, I had photographed the funeral for a man and a 12-year-old boy. They had been killed when a bomb hit the car in which they were riding south of Gaza City, severely injuring an older woman with them.
There is no safe place in Gaza right now. Bombs can land at any time, anywhere.
A small metal shack with no electricity or running water on a jetty in the blazing seaside sun does not seem like the kind of place frequented by Hamas militants, the Israel Defense Forces’ intended targets. Children, maybe four feet tall, dressed in summer clothes, running from an explosion, don’t fit the description of Hamas fighters, either.
Back to NBC. We’ve praised Brian Williams for saying that Palestinians have nowhere to hide in a lopsided conflict in which Palestinian civilians are the victims. Last night he became far more equivocal. He is surely under a lot of pressure. The murders led the broadcast, but here’s how Williams teed it up:
This cycle of violence continues. When Hamas launches rockets from Gaza, Israel hits back, and today, sadly, our cameras were there when disaster struck, when civilians were hit and killed, including four children.
Engel can’t help but describe the matter as a monstrosity.
It was broad daylight, there was no warning, it wasn’t the precision war Israel says it’s fighting.
The footage of the families that Mohyeldin’s crew shot is simply crushing. “A mother asked, where is my son, where is my love?” Here is other video of the killings. Warning, it is highly disturbing.
Engel’s “precision” comment would seem to echo Human Rights Watch, which is quoted deep inside a New York Times story yesterday:
A Human Rights Watch report released Wednesday cited U.N. data showing that, as of Monday, more than three-quarters of the Palestinians killed were civilians, including 36 children, and that approximately 7,500 people had been displaced by the destruction of 1,255 homes. The Human Rights Watch report investigated four Israeli strikes — on the Fun Time Beach cafe in the southern city of Khan Younis; on a car carrying municipal workers in the Bureij refugee camp; and two on homes where victims included a pregnant woman and small children.
“Israel’s rhetoric is all about precision attacks, but attacks with no military target and many civilian deaths can hardly be considered precise,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, said in the report. “Recent documented cases in Gaza sadly fit Israel’s long record of unlawful airstrikes with high civilian casualties.”
And in the category of Nothing ever changes, here is CNN’s Crossfire, with left and right agreeing that Israel should show “no restraint.” Newt Gingrich says that the U.S. would “annihilate” whoever was firing rockets at us. And the liberal Paul Begala echoes, “You’re exactly right.” Before blaming the Palestinians for electing a terrorist group to govern them.
On the positive side, the other day Jake Tapper said the following to an Israeli official:
TAPPER: [T]he blockade … as you know has resulted in among other things contributing to it a humanitarian crisis in Gaza where it’s tough to get food, it’s impossible to get employment. Isn’t it in the best interest of Israel to lift the blockade over Gaza and to allow some sort of revitalization of that area so that there aren’t millions of Palestinians surrounding your country who see no other option but violence?
No other option but violence. That shows some understanding. The tragic event on the beach yesterday is furthering that understanding in the U.S. mainstream, at tremendous cost to the people of Gaza.
Thanks to Annie Robbins.