The tensions between Palestinians and Israelis have dominated the news over the past few weeks as thousands have been killed after being caught up in the long fought conflict. There are stories to be told on both sides of the conflict and although dangerous, it’s important to have journalists on the ground telling those stories.
Earlier this month, NBC made the controversial decision to pull one of their veteran reporters, Ayman Mohyeldin, from the region citing “security reasons.” The network declined to give any further reasoning for their decision, only releasing a short statement about the issue.
“NBC said only that its ‘deployments were constantly reassessed’ in the region,” wrote The New York Times just days after Mohyeldin was dismissed from Gaza. NBC also praised Ayman Mohyeldin for his “extraordinary reporting throughout the escalation of the conflict in Gaza” in the statement.
Mohyeldin, who has years of experience covering major Middle Eastern events has worked for networks including CNN, NBC and Al Jazeera. The Egyptian-American was aggressively pursued by NBC to leave Al Jazeera and was offered “more than the standard salary for its on-air correspondents,” according to The New York Times.
Mohyeldin had personally witnessed the death of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach earlier this month, and has been applauded for his intense coverage of the issue. Through constantly updated social media posts Mohyeldin personalized the struggle of Palestinian families caught up in the attacks.
Some had speculated that Mohyeldin was pulled from Gaza because he showed too much empathy in his social media posts, according to The New York Times. The decision to remove Mohyeldin was considered suspicious to some after a set of tweets from Mohyeldin’s account that blamed Hamas for the Gaza attack were deleted. It was the second instance within the week that a reporter was thought to be taking sides regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict. CNN correspondent Diana Magnay was reassigned to Moscow after she referred to Israelis who cheered the bombing of Gaza as “scum,” according to Talking Points Memo.
After only a few days Mohyeldin returned to Gaza to report and thanked the network on Twitter for their support stating, “thanks for all the support. I’m returning to #Gaza to report. Proud of NBC’s continued commitment to cover the #Palestinian side of the story.”
Those who believed that Mohyeldin would reign in his social media presence were proven wrong the day he landed back in Gaza as his first stop was to meet with families at the morgue.
“Ultimately, the public backlash played a role in the network’s decision to reinstate him, according to interviews with NBC News employees,” reported CNN’s Brian Stelter.