NBC News has dropped an East Jerusalem-based freelancer after she was arrested on suspicion of inciting and disseminating materials encouraging terrorism stemming from Facebook posts that glorify Hamas.
Marwat Al-Azza, a 45-year-old freelance producer, was taken into custody last week over four of her social-media posts Oct. 7, the day that Hamas terrorists launched a surprise attack on Israeli civilians, killing at least 1,200 and kidnapping an estimated 240.
In one of her posts, Ms. Al-Azza mocked an older woman who was being kidnapped from a Gaza border community.
“It’s killing me, it’s a black comedy, the old woman looks happy, a bit of action before she dies,” she wrote, as reported by Haaretz, which identified her as a Palestinian journalist.
In another post, she compared the attack to a movie in which the “director is Palestinian and the protagonists are from Gaza,” the Palestinian enclave governed since 2006 by Hamas.
An NBC News spokesperson said in a statement that it has severed ties with Ms. Al-Azza, adding that she began working for the network after the Oct. 7 massacre.
“The investigation of Ms. Azza is unrelated to NBC News,” NBC told The Washington Times. “It is based on her personal Facebook posts that predate her time with us as a freelancer. We were not aware of those posts before we engaged Ms. Azza four weeks ago. She will not be contributing to our coverage going forward.”
NBC’s decision comes after CNN and the Associated Press cut ties last month with freelance photographer Hassan Eslaiah following an Honest Reporting expose showing that he and other Gaza-based photojournalists were on the scene for the Oct. 7 attack.
Honest Reporting, which monitors media outlets for anti-Israel bias, included a photo of Mr. Eslaiah being kissed on the cheek by Hamas leader and Oct. 7 “mastermind” Yahya Sinwar.
The news outlets denied having themselves any advance knowledge of the attack.
Marwat Al-Azza, a Palestinian journalist from East Jerusalem and freelancer working for NBC, was arrested on Friday on charges of inciting and disseminating materials encouraging terrorismhttps://t.co/s0t83KMhox
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) November 19, 2023
Ms. Al-Azza arrived Thursday at the police station “ready for arrest” and “admitted what was attributed to her,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
At a Friday hearing at the Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem, a police representative called the allegations against her “very serious.”
“These are very serious offenses during a time of declared war when the respondent lives and makes a living in the same country that is under attack and yet chooses to incite and glorify the horrible acts committed against civilians,” the representative said.
Her defense attorney argued that she cooperated with authorities and asked that she be released under court-ordered conditions, but the court extended her detention for another four days.
“She was asked in her investigation about her work. I believe that in the things attributed to her, she cooperated fully. She did not try to hide, saying ‘I had a hacker,’” said her attorney, as reported by the Post.
Shortly after the Oct. 7 attack, Israel declared war on Hamas, which the U.S. State Department has branded as a terrorist organization since 1997.
The organization’s founding charter called for not only the destruction of Israel but said the killing of any Jew is a Muslim religious duty.