In Israel, a Palestinian freelancer affiliated with NBC News, Mirvat al-Azzeh, has been arrested on charges of inciting terror and expressing allegiance to a terrorist organization, as per local sources. The arrest follows al-Azzeh’s sharing of four recent Facebook posts concerning Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel on October 7.
The specifics of the content in al-Azzeh’s posts remain unclear, but during a hearing at the Yerushalayim Magistrate Court, the police described them as “inciting and glorying the horrible acts committed against civilians.” In response to these developments, NBC, a subsidiary of Comcast, announced the termination of its association with the journalist. An NBC spokesperson stated, “Before we recently retained Marwat Azza for services as a freelance producer, we were not aware of her personal social media activity that provided the basis for the Israeli investigation.”
The spokesperson emphasized that the investigated material is unrelated to the services Azzeh provided to NBC News. Despite her recent arrest, al-Azzeh’s most recent report, dated November 12, highlighted the distressing situation at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where newborns were reportedly dying due to resource shortages.
According to an NBC source familiar with the situation, al-Azzeh was hired as a freelance producer around October 21. The source indicated that a review of her limited work for NBC News did not reveal any issues. Israeli authorities noted that al-Azzeh willingly submitted to arrest, arriving without her cellphone but with phone numbers written on her leg. Last month, Israeli police sought permission to interrogate her, which was granted a week before her admission to the offenses.
Her lawyer defended al-Azzeh, describing her as an ordinary journalist who cooperated fully during the investigation. Despite lacking a mobile phone, a key tool involved, she acknowledged the posts as her own. Following her arrest on Thursday, al-Azzeh’s detention was extended for an additional four days at a Friday hearing.
As for potential jail time, the duration remains uncertain. Al-Azzeh, who has been a freelance journalist since September 2018 according to her LinkedIn page, has faced challenges in the past. In April, she posted a video on YouTube detailing an assault at a West Bank hospital and the subsequent pressure from authorities to withdraw her complaint.
The incident echoes concerns raised by other US media outlets, such as The New York Times, which faced backlash for rehiring a filmmaker with a history of praising Hitler to cover the Israeli-Hamas war. Soliman Hijjy, responsible for daily bylines at the Times between October 12 and 19, had expressed admiration for Hitler in Facebook posts dating back to 2012. CNN also severed ties with a freelancer photographed with the leader of the Hamas terror group.