NBC News has severed all ties with a Palestinian freelance journalist arrested in Israel on charges of allegedly inciting terrorism and showing support for a terrorist organization. The Jerusalem Post reported on Saturday that Marwat Al-Azza, a freelance producer living in East Jerusalem, was arrested for her social media posts about the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.
According to reports, Marwat Al-Azza shared at least four Facebook posts recently regarding Hamas attacks that killed over 1,200 people. The content of Al-Azzeh’s posts remains unclear. However, during a hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate Court, the police described them as “inciting and glorifying the horrific acts committed against civilians,” per the outlet.
On Monday, NBC, a media outlet owned by Comcast, announced that the journalist is no longer affiliated with their organization. “Before we recently retained Marwat Azza for services as a freelance producer, we were not aware of her personal social media activity that provided the basis for the Israeli investigation,” an NBC spokesperson told The Post, using an alternate spelling of her name.
“We understand the material under investigation is not related to any services she provided to NBC News.”
In her most recent byline on November 12, the journalist reported that newborns at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City were dying due to resource depletion at the facility.
A source close to the situation revealed that NBC News had hired Azzeh as a freelance producer around October 21.
“A review of her limited work for NBC News did not uncover any issues,” the insider told The Post.
Israeli authorities said that al-Azzeh “arrived ready for arrest,” entering without her cellphone but with phone numbers written on her leg, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.
Al-Azzeh reportedly fully cooperated with Israeli police, who had initially sought permission from the prosecutor’s office to interrogate the journalist the previous month.
The permission was granted last week, and during the interrogation, al-Azzeh reportedly admitted to the offenses.
“The woman in question is an ordinary woman, who works as a journalist and whose work is important to us all,” al-Azzeh’s attorney said, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“She was asked during her investigation about her employment. I believe she admitted to all the deeds described to her, and cooperated fully with the investigation. She did not attempt to conceal the offenses or claim that her accounts had been hacked. Even when she didn’t have a mobile phone, which is the main tool involved, she still said, ‘Yes, those are my posts.'”
Admitting Her Actions
Following her arrest on Thursday, al-Azzeh was detained until a Friday hearing, during which her detention was extended for an additional four days, according to the outlet. The potential duration of jail time that al-Azzeh might face was not immediately clear.
In April, al-Azzeh posted a 24-minute video on YouTube titled “See the full story: An x-ray technician harasses journalist Mervat Al-Azza and grabs her breasts!!”
In the video, al-Azzeh recounts, in Arabic, being assaulted at a West Bank hospital. She alleges feeling pressured by authorities to withdraw her complaint against her attacker and was reportedly instructed to undergo a mental health evaluation, as detailed in a report of the incident by Middle East Eye.
“I cannot find a reason for this, I just see them making things harder for me,” al-Azzeh told the outlet at the time.
According to al-Azzeh’s LinkedIn page, she has been working as a freelance journalist since September 2018.
Her arrest comes as other mainstream U.S. outlets have faced criticism for employing journalists with a history of expressing antisemitic sentiments.
The New York Times, for example, recently faced backlash for rehiring a filmmaker who had praised Hitler in the past to cover the Israeli-Hamas war.
Soliman Hijjy, who hailed the Nazi leader as recently as 2018 on Facebook, had a byline in the Times during the specified period, reporting from Gaza.
Hijjy’s 2018 post and a 2012 Facebook post, where he wrote “How great you are, Hitler” in Arabic alongside a Photoshopped image of Hitler taking a selfie, came to light last year.
Pro-Israel outlets criticized the Times for hiring journalists with antisemitic sentiments as freelancers. However, at that time, it appeared that Hijjy was no longer associated with the Times, and he had reportedly removed the controversial pro-Hitler posts from his social media.
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized mainstream Western media, including Reuters, the Associated Press, CNN, and the New York Times, for collaborating with photojournalists embedded with Hamas during the October 7 massacre.
CNN severed ties with a freelancer who was photographed receiving a kiss from the leader of the terror group.