NBC Reporter Acts As Hamas Spokesman, Denies Terror Group Uses Civilians As Human Shields

Reporting from the Gaza Strip during MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports on July 14, NBC foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin, formerly of Al Jazerra and CNN, parroted Hamas denials that it deliberately placed missile batteries in civilian buildings in Gaza [Listen to the audio]:

They definitely reject the labeling of using civilians as human shields....Hamas military wing people that we've been speaking to and others – not just on these past few days, but in the past several years, because this is an issue that always comes up against Hamas – they will say that this is the nature of the battlefield that they have to fight in. That this is not an issue by design, but as a reality of what Gaza is like because it's so densely populated.

Immediately following Mohyeldin touting the Palestinian terrorist organization's talking points, host Andrea Mitchell invited Mark Regev, the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to response. Regev blasted the Hamas claims:

I think their denials, Andrea, are frankly ludicrous. The facts are clear. In fact, if you go to the Hamas interior ministry in Gaza you'll see they've actually called upon the citizens of Gaza to act as human shields. As my prime minister said yesterday, in Israel we've got missiles to defend our people and in Gaza they've got people to defend their missiles. That's what Hamas does.

There's no reason why they should put their command and control in the basement of a hospital or put missile stockpiles in schools. They are war crimes. They shouldn't be doing that. And they have to be condemned for that.

Moments later, Mitchell glossed over those facts and wondered when Israel would give in:

Well, given the fact that you have got so much pressure now, calls from the United Nations, calls from the European Union for a cease-fire. The pressure, the political pressure internationally is growing, no matter what the equities are on the ground. The situation is that on one side you've got missile defense and on the other side you've got civilian populations and people dying in large numbers. How long can you politically withstand the pressure for a cease-fire?

Leading off the exchange with Mohyeldin, Mitchell fretted over the imbalance of casualties in the conflict: "The Palestinians don't have the advantage of the underground shelters. They don't have, obviously, Iron Dome. And in that dense area, the death toll is mounting." Mohyeldin replied: "Absolutely. And in addition to that, you've got to keep in mind, Andrea, that Gaza has been under siege for several years now."

He continued: "...we got a report from the United Nations office of humanitarian affair[s] and they're putting the number of those killed so far out of the 174, at least 80% of them are civilians. 21% of them are children."

At the top of the 12 p.m. ET hour program, a clip was played of Mohyeldin proclaiming: "Relatives of Gaza's police chief who Israel targeted in the single deadliest air strike since the war began. The police chief survived, but at least eighteen others were killed. Including Ahmed's parents and four siblings, a Palestinian child now orphaned by yet another war."

On July 2, amid rising tensions in the region, Mohyeldin accused Israeli authorities of intentionally opening fire on jouralists: "Israeli police firing at crowds of Palestinian protestors and journalists who were clearly marked as such. Despite us yelling that we were journalists they still fired at us and threatened to shoot us if we didn't leave."

Here is a transcript of Mohyeldin's July 14 appearance with Mitchell:

12:00 PM ET TEASE:

ANDREA MITCHELL: Right now on Andrea Mitchell Reports. Fleeing for their lives. Palestinians are heeding Israeli warnings and evacuating the northern Gaza Strip for U.N. shelters as the exchange of rocket fire continues with no cease fire in sight.

AYMAN MOHYELDIN: Relatives of Gaza's police chief who Israel targeted in the single deadliest air strike since the war began. The police chief survived, but at least eighteen others were killed. Including Ahmed's parents and four siblings, a Palestinian child now orphaned by yet another war.

(...)

12:03 PM ET SEGMENT:

MITCHELL: And Ayman, the death toll. The Palestinians don't have the advantage of the underground shelters. They don't have, obviously, Iron Dome. And in that dense area, the death toll is mounting.

MOHYELDIN: Absolutely. And in addition to that, you've got to keep in mind, Andrea, that Gaza has been under siege for several years now. The health infrastructure, the medical infrastructure of Gaza has been decimated and that's putting a lot of pressure on the hospitals here who are struggling to cope with the influx of casualties. You know, backup generators are breaking down. They don't have the consistent fuel supply to keep electricity running at some of these smaller clinics and elsewhere.

And right now as we, you know, just gone on to the air, we got a report from the United Nations office of humanitarian affair[s] and they're putting the number of those killed so far out of the 174, at least 80% of them are civilians. 21% of them are children. So it gives you a sense of how much the civilian population is bearing the brunt of this ongoing violence.

MITCHELL: But what do Hamas leaders say about the accusation that they are themselves violating the Geneva Conventions by putting their rocket emplacements in schools, in mosques, by using people as human shields?

MOHYELDIN: Well, they definitely reject the labeling of using civilians as human shields. They definitely do place a lot of their paramilitary forces and activities in Gaza, because of its dense population, in areas that would be qualified as residential.

But a lot of the times the Hamas groups, Hamas military wing people that we've been speaking to and others – not just on these past few days, but in the past several years, because this is an issue that always comes up against Hamas – they will say that this is the nature of the battlefield that they have to fight in. That this is not an issue by design, but as a reality of what Gaza is like because it's so densely populated. The placement and location of wherever they can fight has to be in the areas that sometimes have these casualties.

But they definitely reject the label that they place civilians in harm's way as a result of using them as human shields.

MITCHELL: Ayman Mohyeldin in Gaza, thank you so much.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.