UNESCO on Friday removed Palestinian Abdullah Murtaja from their list of “journalists killed in the exercise of their profession” after pro-Israel bloggers revealed that he was a Hamas terrorist.
Murtaja, who was killed during Israel’s war against Gaza-based terror group Hamas during the summer, was featured in photos and video released by the group’s Al Qassam Brigade bearing weapons and clad in the terrorists’ insignia.
The video was highlighted by popular blogger Elder of Ziyon on Nov. 12 and shows Murtaja giving his “martyr” statement, which is intended to be released posthumously.
“I deplore attempts to instrumentalize the profession of journalists by combatants,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement following the revelation. “The civilian status of journalists is critical, especially in situations of conflict, to ensure the free flow of information and ideas that are essential to the wider public and the restoration of stability and peace.”
In its original statement, issued on Aug. 29, UNESCO condemned the killing of all journalists, including Murtaja, under its mandate to defend press freedom. Bokova said that information had since been brought to UNESCO’s attention proving that Murtaja was “a member of an organized armed group – an active combatant, and, therefore, not a civilian journalist.”
“This has come to light in a video was posted recently on the Internet with Abdullah Murtaja speaking as a member of an organized armed group,” she added. “UNESCO therefore withdraws the statement of 29 August.”
Murtaja, who worked for Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV, is being called a “media martyr” by the group.