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Israel removes video 'denigrating' foreign press

June 21, 2015 8:47 P.M. (Updated: June 22, 2015 1:45 P.M.)
A Palestinian boy rides his bicycle past buildings destroyed during last summer's war between Israel and Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip, June 15, 2015. (AFP/Said Khatib, File)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's foreign ministry has taken down a video that angered foreign journalists by ridiculing their coverage of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, saying it had been "misinterpreted."

"The goal of the video was to illustrate the crimes of Hamas," ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said on Sunday. "When that was misinterpreted, we decided to remove it."

The 49-second cartoon clip, entitled "Open your eyes about Gaza," was posted on YouTube a week ago. It was also posted on the ministry's website.

Primarily addressing the coverage of last year's war in Gaza, it drew condemnation from the Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel, which called it "inappropriate" and "unhelpful," as well as from Israeli journalists.

The video featured a blonde-haired television correspondent in Gaza with an American accent declaring before a camera that "there are no terrorists here, just ordinary people," while a masked militant fires off a rocket.

Another scene has the reporter describing tunnels that Hamas fighters used to stage attacks into Israeli territory as "the first Palestinian subway."

A female character then gives the reporter a pair of glasses, allowing him to see the reality of "life under Hamas rule," after which the reporter faints.

The FPA called the ministry's decision to remove the "much-criticized cartoon that denigrated foreign press coverage" of the Gaza war a "victory."

Israeli media outlet Haaretz reported that the video had been uploaded simultaneously with an Israeli report on the Gaza war, ostensibly intended to be part of Israel's diplomatic effort and campaign in the days leading up to the release of the UN Human Rights Council's report on the conflict.

The video removal comes as the FPA has condemned alleged Israeli targeting of journalists during last summer's war, where at least 17 journalists were reported to be killed by Israeli forces.

The association also protested the "blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza" during the war.

Despite coverage by international journalists of the alleged use of civilian sites by Palestinian militants to store weapons and fire rockets,Israel's Nahshon said the ministry's video was "poking gentle fun at the phenomenon" of Hamas allegedly using "human shields" during fighting and the "partial reporting" of this by international media.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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