Palestinian journalists furious after veteran cameraman fired by AP
Palestinian journalists and social media users have reacted with fury to the sacking of Eyad Hamad, a 63-year-old cameraman, by the Associated Press news agency following a complaint against him by the Palestinian Authority.
Hamad and several other Palestinian journalists had recently launched a campaign to free Anas Al-Hawwari, a journalist from the Quds News Network who had been detained by Palestinian Authority security forces and beaten.
As a result of the campaign, Hamad told the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post, he had received threats from Palestinian Authority officials who said that they would make sure he was fired from AP.
“I have been working for AP for 20 years,” he said. “I covered many events in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and a number of Arab countries. The decision came as a surprise to me and my colleagues.”
Accompanied by other Palestinian journalists, last week Hamad demonstrated against the threats by officials in Bethlehem.
“President Mahmoud Abbas, I demand protection from the [Palestinian] security agencies,” a sign held up by Hamad read.
After Hamad was fired, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate issued a strong statement denouncing the veteran cameraman’s “arbitrary dismissal” and calling on AP to take back its “unfair and unjust decision”.
Some Palestinian journalists took to social media to demand a boycott of Associated Press. Hamad is known affectionately by other journalists as “Khal” (Uncle) and the hashtag #كلنا_الخال (#We_are_all_Uncle_Eyad) was used to express solidarity with him.
On Facebook, Palestinian journalist Mustafa Al-Khoja said “Uncle Eyad is a veteran journalist who presented a picture of Palestine to the world. He was the voice of persecuted journalists and their protector and supporter. It’s a duty to stand by him.”
Joe Federman, Associated Press Bureau Chief for Israel and the Palestinian Territories did not make any comment when he was approached by The Jerusalem Post.
“We don’t comment on personal matters,” he said.
A Palestinian Authority source also denied that any complaint against Hamad had been filed with AP, Middle East Eye reported. However this denial does not appear to have convinced Palestinian journalists outraged by Hamad’s firing.