Who Is a Terrorist and Who Is a Journalist? Hamas Operative Abdallah Mortaja, Killed in Operation Protective Edge, as a Case Study.

Abdallah Fadel Mortaja, Hamas terrorist operative in the Shejaiya battalion of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Is he a journalist? Abdallah Fadel Mortaja, Hamas terrorist operative in the Shejaiya battalion of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, who also carried out propaganda missions. Hamas claims he was a "journalist" and included him on the list of journalists killed in Operation Protective Edge.


1.   About a week after the end of Operation Protective Edge the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate issued a list of 17 names, allegedly of journalists who had been killed in the operation. The list was published by the PA's Wafa News Agency, which received it from the Hamas-controlled Gaza office of the ministry of information.[1] The ITIC examined the list and found that about half (eight) were affiliated with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).[2]

2.   One of the names on the list of "journalists" was Abdallah Fadel Mortaja, represented by the Palestinians as a journalist, with no mention made of his role as a military-terrorist operative (See Appendix B). However, the ITIC discovered that he was an operative in the Shejaiya battalion of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military-terrorist wing, where he also carried out propaganda missions.

3.   On February 17, 2015, a year and a half after his death, Hamas' satellite channel, Al-Aqsa TV, broadcast a program in his memory. The program did not ignore "the information activities of the al-Qassam shaheed," but stressed his military role. The program showed him wearing an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades uniform and operating various types of weapons. Sections of the will he recorded before his death were also broadcast (See Appendix A).

4.   The case of Abdallah Mortaja raises the question, in principle, of the status of military-terrorist operatives who also deal with propaganda in the battle for hearts and minds (regarded as particularly important by the terrorist organizations). Hamas and the PIJ, like ISIS and Hezbollah, employ terrorist operatives to carry out propaganda missions, and in several instances they are integral parts of military-terrorist units. However, Hamas and other Palestinian organizations went one step further and are now trying to represent terrorist operatives who fulfill propaganda roles as legitimate journalists who enjoy professional immunity. That is evident from Abdallah Mortaja and other terrorist operatives who were killed in Operation Protective Edge whose names appear on the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate list. In addition, not only are the Palestinians trying to claim immunity for their military-terrorist operatives, they are also trying to defame Israel by claiming it deliberately killed those "journalists" and prevented them from doing their jobs.


[1]The official name, as it appears on its website, is the "Palestinian national authority ministry of information government information office" [in the Gaza Strip].
[2]For further information see the February 12, 2015 bulletin "Examination of the Names of 17 Journalists and Media Personnel Whom the Palestinians Claim Were Killed in Operation Protective Edge."