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NBC News, which faced criticism within its own newsroom and from the public for removing reporter Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza, has reversed its decision. The network announced on Friday evening that Mohyeldin will be returning to Gaza to report on the current ground invasion by the Israeli military. Mohyeldin is an Egyptian-American who has been reporting on the Middle East for more than ten years. He is best known for his reporting from Gaza for Al Jazeera English during the 2008 bombardment.
Mohyeldin’s social media streams went quiet on Wednesday afternoon, just a few hours after he witnessed the killing of four young Palestinian boys. The children, cousins ranging in age from 9 to 11, were killed by two Israeli airstrikes that hit a beach in Gaza. Mohyeldin posted live updates from the scene, including heartbreaking footage of the mother of one of the children reacting to the news.
4 Palestinian kids killed in a single Israeli airstrike. Minutes before they were killed by our hotel, I was kicking a ball with them #gaza
— Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) July 16, 2014
On Friday NBC News put out a statement regarding Mohyeldin's reinstatement.
Ayman Mohyeldin has done extraordinary reporting throughout the escalation of the conflict in Gaza, filing 25+ reports over the past 17 days, including his invaluable and well-documented contribution to the story on the deaths of the four Palestinian children on Wednesday. As with any news team in conflict zones, deployments are constantly reassessed. We've carefully considered our deployment decisions and we will be sending Ayman back to Gaza over the weekend. We look forward to his contributions in the coming days.
Mohyeldin's conspicuous silence after weeks of live updates and nightly reports from the region drew questions, especially after Richard Engel reported on the killing of the four children instead of Mohyeldin, who had witnessed the incident.
Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept reported on Thursday that Mohyeldin was ordered to leave Gaza by NBC executives, and that the decision by NBC executives had angered some NBC staffers.
Greenwald reports that, in private, NBC executives cited security concerns as their reason for removing Mohyeldin. NBC News has since sent preeminent foreign correspondent Richard Engel into Gaza, along with a producer who, according to Greenwald, does not speak Arabic and has never been to Gaza before.
After news of his removal from Gaza, NBC News viewers and fellow reporters took to Twitter to ask NBC to #LetAymanReport.
Some observers speculated that the NBC executives' decision was partially based on a tweet and Facebook post later removed by Mohyeldin, which could be perceived as critical of a U.S. State Department statement regarding the killing of the four boys.
Mohyeldin will be returning to Gaza over the weekend to continue reporting on the conflict.
— Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) July 18, 2014
As of Saturday 336 people have been killed in Gaza, more than 2,300 have been injured, and five Israelis have been killed.