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Photographer Granted Prestigious Prize for Photo of Sexual Assault on Jewish Women

“Disgraceful,” “Disgusting,” “Obscene” — that’s how users on social media platform X reacted last week after HonestReporting criticized the awarding of a Pictures of the Year to Associated Press photojournalists who captured Hamas atrocities on October 7 during the deadly terrorist rampage that sparked the Israel-Hamas war.

Moreover, the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI), which bestows the award, chose to highlight a photo by Gaza photojournalist Ali Mahmud showing the mutilated body of Israeli-German citizen Shani Louk in a Hamas pickup as terrorists drove it back to Gaza on October 7. This and some 20 other AP photos were part of a package that won the “Team Picture Story of the Year” category.

The RJI selected its winner and ran with the Shani Louk photo despite questions raised in November by HonestReporting regarding Mahmud and other Gaza photojournalists who had infiltrated Israel with Hamas on October 7. These questions still resonate despite false accusations that we have backtracked on them.

Our November expose mentioned another AP photojournalist, Hatem Ali, who also happens to be included in the AP’s prize collection.

When it comes to the events of October 7, Mahmud and Ali did not do “a splendid job despite tremendous war-time difficulties,” as the description of the prestigious prize declares.

On that day, they were in a position to take pictures of Hamas abducting innocent Israelis into Gaza. They could not have done so without the passive or active agreement of terrorists on the ground.

Is this brave reporting? Is this what the journalism award judges want to glorify?

And why did they choose to highlight Mahmud’s controversial photo of Louk’s body at the very top of the gallery? Many other photos taken by Mahmud’s professional colleagues could and should have been selected for this honor.

Sadly, this is not the first praise of Gaza photojournalists whose unethical behavior on October 7 has been exposed by HonestReporting.

Some of them were honored last December, as The New York Times, Reuters, and the Associated Press chose to include their October 7 photos in their “Images of The Year” galleries.

Bestowing such honors carries far-reaching ramifications. The photographers and their organizations gain reputational, professional and financial benefits from such recognition.

But should it be on the back of the half-naked, dead body of Shani Louk?