Reuters denied on Thursday suggestions by media advocacy group HonestReporting that it and other international news organisations had prior knowledge of the Oct 7 attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians and soldiers.
The Israeli government demanded explanations from Reuters and three other news groups regarding the HonestReporting article which questioned their work with Gaza-based photojournalists during the Hamas assault.
HonestReporting, which describes itself on its website as "a charitable organisation" with a mission "to combat ideological prejudice in journalism and the media, as it impacts Israel", said it was not accusing Reuters of collusion but was raising ethical questions about news coverage.
"Reuters categorically denies that it had prior knowledge of the attack or that we embedded journalists with Hamas on Oct 7," Reuters said, responding to the HonestReporting article and subsequent allegations by Israeli government officials.
"Reuters acquired photographs from two Gaza-based freelance photographers who were at the border on the morning of Oct 7, with whom it did not have a prior relationship," it said.
"The photographs published by Reuters were taken two hours after Hamas fired rockets across southern Israel and more than 45 minutes after Israel said gunmen had crossed the border. Reuters staff journalists were not on the ground at the locations referred to in the HonestReporting article," Reuters added.
Israeli government spokesperson Nitzan Chen said in a statement that Israel was demanding explanations from Reuters and the other news organisations regarding the HonestReporting article, saying what the report had described "crosses every red line, professional and moral".
The Israeli prime minister's office said it viewed with "utmost gravity" the suggestion that journalists working with international media had joined in covering the Hamas attack. "These journalists were accomplices in crimes against humanity; their actions were contrary to professional ethics," it said.
HonestReporting wrote on social media platform X that it was raising questions about news coverage, including whether the photojournalists had prior knowledge and, if so, whether the news groups were notified before the attack.
"We did not accuse Reuters of collusion," it said. "We quite rightly raised some serious ethical issues regarding news outlets' association with these freelancers and asked important and relevant questions that everyone deserves answers to."
The Associated Press (AP), which was among the news groups named by HonestReporting, said: "The Associated Press had no knowledge of the Oct 7 attacks before they happened. The first pictures AP received from any freelancer show they were taken more than an hour after the attacks began. No AP staff were at the border at the time of the attacks, nor did any AP staffer cross the border at any time."
Reuters said in its statement that it remained committed to delivering independent, accurate and unbiased news around the world, in keeping with its Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.