Sunday, 25 November 2012

Israeli targetting of journalists in Gaza

BFTF has been disturbed to read (via Twitter) reports that the Israeli military has been deliberately targetting journalists and media organisations reporting on the current "Operation Pillar of Defence" conflict in Gaza.

One report describes how, at around 2am on Sunday 18th November, Israeli warplanes fired several missiles at the Al-Shawa Wa Hassri Tower,, which houses local and international media organizations. Around 15 reporters and photographers wearing vests with the word “TV Press” were on the building’s roof at the time, covering the Israeli air strikes.

Five missiles destroyed the 11th-floor offices used by Al-Quds TV and a number of journalists were injured, including Khadar Al-Zahar, whose condition was described as being critical after one of his legs had to be amputated.

Then, at around 7am two missiles were fired at the Al-Shourouk building, also known as the “journalists’ building”. The attack damaged the offices of Sky News Arabia, the German TV station ARD, the Arab TV stations MBC and Abu Dhabi TV, Al-Arabiya, Reuters, Russia Today and the Ma’an news agency.

Another report describes the events of Wed 21st November, when the following occurred:

An Israeli air strike hit the tower block containing the offices of the French news agency Agence France-Presse.

Another airstrike targeted the vehicle of two Palestinian cameramen, which was clearly marked with the words “Media” in Arabic. The attack killed both journalists. They were from the TV station Al-Aqsa and were on their way to the northern part of the city to film Palestinian victims of Israeli air strikes.

Another airstrike targeted the car of Mohammed Moussa Abu Eisah, executive director of Al-Quds educational radio, killing him.

An Israeli military spokeswoman, Avital Leibovich, said later that preliminary results of an investigation indicated that the three journalists were Hamas operatives

Another three missiles hit the offices of AFP (The Israeli military said they believed the attack was on a Hamas military operations room)

RWB comments that :
“Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns these deliberate attacks on those working for media organizations affiliated to, or with links to, Hamas, and also the statement by the Israeli government spokesman. The press freedom organization points out that, under humanitarian law, journalists are entitled to the same protection as civilians and should not be regarded as military targets.

The fact that they are considered to be propaganda outlets is not sufficient reason to treat them as military targets. Indeed, the commission of experts appointed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to examine the NATO bombing campaign in 1999 ruled that journalists and media organizations were not legitimate targets for “merely disseminating propaganda”.

“Attacks on civilian targets are war crimes and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions. Those responsible must be identified,” [said] Christophe Deloire, Reporters Without Borders secretary general”

In a related report, Issam Younes, director of the Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, suggested that Israel’s questioning of Palestinian journalistic standards was just a pretext to justify its destructive attacks on the Gaza Strip.

“Imagine if Hamas said that those commentators on [Israeli news channels] Channel 2 and Channel 10 are [Israeli intelligence] Shabak people; then they are legitimate targets for Hamas to attack? It’s just a pretext,”

Other Links
Save the Children report on the effect of the blockade on childrens health in Gaza
List of Palestinian Rocket attacks in 2012

Related Posts
The 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement
Families Forum - An Israeli Perspective
Families Forum - A Palestinian Perspective

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