Covering the news in the Middle East can be a very dangerous job, especially when opposing forces become intensified during clashes between warring factions. It's even harder when the Associated Press doesn't support you.
That was the situation this week, when Eyad Hamad, a veteran cameraman for the Associated Press, stated that he was fired after the Palestinian Authority filed a complaint against him for criticizing security forces who had arrested and beaten a local journalist.
According to an article posted by Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Hamad reported that the cameraman and several other Palestinians plan to express their outrage in protests against the AP decision.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate issued a statement in which the organization condemned the "arbitrary dismissal" of the cameraman. The syndicate also called on the AP to revoke its "unfair and unjust decision."
I have been working for AP for 20 years. I covered many events in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and a number of Arab countries.
[Nevertheless,] the decision came as a surprise to me and my colleagues.
Hamad said he believed the decision to fire him came after he and several Palestinian journalists launched a campaign to demand the release of Anas Hawwari, a Palestinian journalist recently arrested by the PA security forces.Because of the campaign, Hamad said, he received threats from PA security officials who told him that they would see to it that he gets fired from AP.
According to the Jerusalem Post, "Hamad and several Palestinian journalists expressed outrage over the AP decision. They said they were planning a series of protests against the international news agency in the coming days."
Asked to comment on the firing, AP's burea chief insisted, “We don’t comment on personnel matters."
Also reporting on the situation was Akram Al-Waara of the Middle East Eye website, who stated that there was “a personal conflict between him and Palestinian police spokesperson Luay Zreiqat.”
Al-Waara noted that Zreiqat “allegedly threatened Hamad numerous times in recent weeks after the journalist expelled him” from an online group that is dedicated to local reporters.
“The conflict appears to have been exacerbated when Hamad openly criticized the PA for the arrest last week of Anas Hawari, a reporter for the Hamas-affiliated Quds News Network,” the correspondent added.
George Canawati, a longtime friend of Hamad, asked: “If we have to be worried about getting fired just for standing up for our rights and freedoms, how can we be expected to show the reality of what is happening on the ground here?”