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(Ismael Mohamad / United Press International)

Israeli spokesperson admits to targeting journalists in Gaza

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A Palestinian journalist inspects his car after an Israeli air strike targeted a media building in Gaza City, 18 November.

(Majdi Fathi / APA images)

As is now widely known, in the early morning hours of 18 November during Israel’s continued escalation of its military assault on Gaza, the army targeted two buildings in Gaza City that housed international and Palestinian media outlets. The attacks left at least eight journalists injured. Twenty-year old cameraman Khader al-Zahhar had his right leg blown off when a rocket shot through the roof. At the time of writing, Israel has killed 72 Palestinians — 26 just today — since Wednesday, 14 November.

According to a press release today by the human rights organization Adalah:

“The Israeli army bombed Al-Shoroq Tower (or the “Journalists’ Tower”) in Gaza City. The 15-story building housed both local Arab and international media agencies such as Al Arabiya, Al Quds TV, Sky News, France 24, and Russia TV. Local media sources reported that eight journalists were injured in the initial attack. According to [Palestinian human rights group] Al-Mezan field reports, building occupants later received warnings about the Israeli army’s intent to demolish the entire building, and were told to evacuate.”

By the Israeli army’s own admission, they knew journalists were in the building at which they fired: “We obviously knew there were journalists in the building, so we did not attack other floors in the building. But my advice to journalists visiting Gaza is to stay away from any Hamas position, site or post for their own safety,” army spokesperson Avital Leibovich told the press today (BBC Middle East Bureau Chief Paul Danahar recorded her admission).

According to Protocol 1, Article 79 of the Geneva Convention, it is a war crime to target journalists. Furthermore, to suggest that anyone can “stay away from” anything at all during this relentless assault on tiny, sealed-off Gaza is patently absurd. But to instruct journalists to stay away from the conflict on which it is their job to report points to Israel’s reckless disregard for the public’s right to information and the journalist’s duty to provide it. Israel seems clearly bent on preventing information from getting out of Gaza.

Same Israeli army lies

Utilizing the same lie it employed for bombing a UNRWA school, a mosque and a hospital during the “Cast Lead” attack on Gaza in 08-09, the Israeli army has justified this most recent attack on journalists by saying Hamas was using them as “human shields.”

“By placing communication infrastructure on roofs of media buildings, Hamas uses the foreign journalists as human shields,” one army spokesperson said.

The Israeli army’s tumblr site states: “The IDF surgically targeted Hamas’ operational communications capabilities on the roof of a civilian building in the Gaza Strip. The IDF did not target any other parts of the building.”

Reporters without Borders condemned Israel’s attacks today. “Even though the outlets targeted are linked to Hamas, it does not legitimize the attacks,” said secretary-general Christophe Deloire. “Attacks against civilian targets constitute war crimes.”

The recent attacks are, in fact, a continuation of Israel’s policy to target the media and reporters. In Israel’s 2008-09 assault it refused foreign journalists entry to Gaza. In January 2009, Daniel Seaman, director of the Press Office of the Government of Israel, defended Israel’s refusal to allow journalists into Gaza by saying: “Any journalist who enters Gaza becomes a fig leaf and front for the Hamas terror organization, and I see no reason why we should help that.”

By this logic, any journalist in Gaza right now is an unacceptable “fig leaf” for Hamas. Therefore Israel’s assault on journalists may be indiscriminate and part of the war against information that Seaman declared in 2009.

Israel unchallenged in mainstream media

Israel’s line of defense has not been challenged by mainstream media sources such as The New York Times and the Washington Post, even though Israel’s incessantly-repeated and mendacious justification for bombing civilian infrastructure for serving as “human shields” for Hamas operations was not corroborated by the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (also known as the Goldstone Report).

Instead, the September 2009 UN report found that it was Israel who used Palestinians as human shields once it began its ground invasion into Gaza – just one of the many violations of international humanitarian law committed by Israel during the massacre that left 1,417 Palestinians dead, 926 of which were civilians and 313 children, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. (For discussion of Israel’s use of human shields see Page 19 of the Goldstone report.)

Targeting media is not a new tactic for Israel, and it is a policy it shares with the United States. The US military has targeted media outlets in Iraq in 2003, Afghanistan in 2001 and Kosovo in 1999 under the justification that these outlets operate as “propaganda.”

Comments

Knowing there were journalist In the building, is by no means targeting them. There's a big difference.
Targeting them means they were the target of the attack - which they were not. The Israeli attacks are very accurate even for "tiny" Gaza, which, by the way, has a common border with Egypt as well. I can't seem to find anyone complaining about it being closed...

"Knowing there were journalist In the building, is by no means targeting them. There's a big difference."

Really now? Explain.

Truly, if the mere presence of journalists in a battle zone caused all combatants to cease fighting, then we could end all war today by shipping journalists into all war zones. When journalists are warned about impending bombings and choose to stay, that's not the same thing as "targeting" them! Journalists, for all they serve nobly in battle zones, make choices and take their own risks. They cannot expect that their presence alone means no bombs will fall.

If you are unable to differentiate between intent and side-effect, I fear that there is not much that can be done to help you.

Many philosophers, such as Thomas Aquinas, have posited that to achieve a good effect, a negative side effect may be permissible. I think they may be more qualified than you to comment on it.

"The Israeli attacks are very accurate....".How many kids and civilians were dead?? Remind me please.A cameraman was killed. Targeting journalists is a war crime under Geneva Convention. Western media repeats Israeli propaganda on pretexts of bombing civilian infrastructure. And you 're buying it..

You can't have it both ways.
If the targeting was surgical, you have to explane how you (IDF) mannaged to kill more than 50% civilians. The fact that Gaza is tiny does not justify IDF cause IDF is responsible for the evershrinking palestinian territory. My conclusion is that you have to find another tactics to continue whiping palestinian living space out of earth and out of history.
He expelled you 2000 years ago, today you are claiming this land by force, you don't need Him to promisse anything, how does this makes you a Jew?
Real Jew has faith, but those who claims land by force has only paranoid I"D"F.
Any Palestinian who starts to talk peace gets him self killed by IDF. Why???
It is crystal clear that official Israel does not want peace but territory, i lay great hopes in common Jewish souls witch are starting to rebel, i salute to them.
Israel is our next South Africa or end of the world, justice in either way.

P.S.: I am not Palestinian nor Muslim but i know i'll be your next target, consider this as a preventive strike while you are weak.
EXPECT US

This article does not say that Israel targets journalists. It even says that occupants of the building were warned to stay away. Many journalists have been killed in recent warfares, but Truthout selects a case of an Israeli response to Hamas's constant rocketing of Israeli civilians to accuse it of targeting journalists. Why?

What's twisted in a government pretending to be a democracy while it practices apartheid. Where is your moral compass here? Don't you think that if israel gave a damn about democracy, the Palestinian would not continue to suffer the way they have for fifty years. Peace means giving them a "piece" of the freedom and benefits allowed Israelis. Don't let your hatred for a people compromise an authentic sense of justice. I can't believe that you can deny what you see before your eyes. Hamas evolved as a reaction to occupation.
End occupation and there will be no reason for Hamas. There will be nothing to resist. There must, however, be a legitimate reason to believe that the Israeli government wants a "just peace" and not just another Palestinian body part and the land it lays on.

Will share with my students.

IFEX has also reported on the targeting of media:
http://ifex.org/palestine/2012...

In a revealing interview conducted by Al-Jazeera with Mark Regev (link below), the super-annuated Israeli spokesperson let slip a comment that betrayed the racism inherent in most Israeli thinking about the Palestinians. He tried to reassure the al-jazeera interviewer that ‘no foreign journalists were hit…’. (So that’s alright then) The interviewer then confronted Regev with his racism.

If the truth has the real potential to set men free, then truth must be suppressed in order to maintain the structure of power. Journalist in Gaza will continue to be unacceptable as long as Israel seeks to suppress the truth and continue with its inhumane treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank. If the world can remain blind to such abuse, the government can continue to portray itself as victims of Hamas and all other resistance to occupation. Seeing is believing and what stands to be seen is cruel and despicable apartheid and how Netanyahu has facilitated injustice and persistent degradation of the Palestinian people. The road towards democracy and equality between Israelis and Palestinians is a road that will never be taken, as long as the demon in the driver seat attempts to manipulate the hearts and minds of the international community. Media cannot be controlled, manipulated and easily suppressed as it once was. Those seeking to suppress it must suppress those who offer it to the world and limit their ability to access the real facts. We know that targeting media is not a new tactic for Israel, but isn't it time to demand to know from them, what is it they are trying to desperately hide.
Khalilah Sabra
Muslim American Society Justice Center