The website of Hamas' military wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, posted a prominent tribute to the late journalist Helen Thomas who died on Saturday. An image on the front page of the Al-Qassam website displayed a photo of "pioneer journalist Helen Thomas" next to the words, "Rest in peace, Helen Thomas. We respect you for taking a stand."
Below the Thomas photo and eulogy, the website prominently displays obituaries praising its "martyrs" who were engaged in the "long bright path of jihad" against Israel.
The Palestinian Islamist group that runs Gaza posted an article from Al Jazeera which detailed the accomplishments of the "trailblazing journalist who reported on every US president from John Kennedy to Barack Obama."
Front page of Hamas' Al-Qassam website featuring a prominently-displayed tribute to Helen Thomas (Screenshot)
The article about Thomas that Hamas posted included this sentence praising her independent spirit: "Her disdain for White House secrecy and dodging spanned five decades, back to President John F Kennedy."
While Thomas' past anti-Israel statements would explain Hamas touting her as a role model, the radical Palestinian group is no shining example of the press freedom it lauds in the Thomas context.
In fact, the Hamas leadership in Gaza has excelled in harassing journalists who dare to criticize its rule. The Middle East news website Al-Monitor reported in May:
Since Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, freedom of opinion and expression have suffered numerous transgressions, which have been documented by human rights organizations. Furthermore, a number of journalists have been summoned for questioning and subsequently arrested or barred from travel. Earlier this month, a demonstration was forcibly dispersed during which journalists were targeted, despite Hamas' denial of these violations, which it considers "individual incidents" and not part of any government policy.
The pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon who first reported on the Hamas tribute to Thomas writes, "They also proudly show the video where she recommends ethnically cleansing Jews from the Middle East. This is the 'stand' they are referring to."
In a highly publicized incident in 2010 - which TheBlaze recounted in the Helen Thomas obituary posted on Saturday - rabbi and independent filmmaker David Nesenoff asked Thomas to comment on camera about Israel. "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," the daughter of Lebanese immigrants replied.
"Remember, these people [the Palestinians] are occupied and it's their land. It's not Germany, it's not Poland," she said. The rabbi asked Thomas where Israelis should go to which she answered, "They should go home." Asked where home is, Thomas replied: "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else."