Israeli forces operating in Hamas uniforms?

On 11 January 2009, the English-language website of Israel's Haaretz newspaper published an article by Amira Hass, entitled "Gaza residents: IDF troops posing as Hamas men." The article was removed from the website hours after publication.

Haaretz told Arab Media Watch via email that the reason for its removal was that "the IDF censor had not cleared it for publication." There was no indication that the article's accuracy was in doubt. AMW asked the newspaper how many, and what other articles had been censored during the Gaza conflict, but did not receive a reply.

"The accusation that Israeli forces wore the uniforms and symbols of Hamas's Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades during the ground invasion of Gaza has serious implications, not only where international law is concerned, but also with regard to the veracity of claims made by Israel about Hamas tactics and alleged abuses," said AMW chairman Sharif Hikmat Nashashibi.

"Just as serious, if not more so, is the attempt by the Israeli Defence Force to cover up this important story by one of Israel's most distinguished journalists," added Nashashibi. "The IDF seems clearly aware of the implications of such an article going public - this from a country that claims to uphold press freedoms."

AMW urges the media to pursue and investigate this story, with the IDF, Haaretz, and relevant sources in Gaza.

Below are three relevant documents:

- A photo image of the article before it was taken down.

- A summary of the IDF censor's role vis-à-vis, and influence over, Israel's media by Dr Makram Khoury-Machool, AMW adviser and former Haaretz reporter. His bio is available at:

- A synopsis of the legal implications of these accusations by Iain Scobbie, Sir Joseph Hotung Research Professor in Law, Human Rights and Peace Building in the Middle East at the Department of Law of the School of Oriental and African Studies. His bio is available at: