Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Menard has gone to Beirut, where he has met with executives and editors of news media that have been the victim of Israeli air strikes including the LBC, New TV and Al Manar television stations. He also met with representatives of the National Council of media.
Since the start of the fighting, the Israeli military has destroyed the transmitters of several TV stations, killing an LBC technician, reduced the premises of Al Manar, the Hezbollah TV station, to ruins, inflicted injuries on a three-member New TV crew and killed a young woman photographer, Layal Nagib, near Tyre.
In the case of the air strikes on LBC’s installations, neither the official or unofficial explanations have been in any way satisfactory. The usual Israeli excuses do not suffice, and Reporters Without Borders calls for a transparent investigation to determine who has been responsible.
Despite the air strikes, the broadcasts of all of the Lebanese TV stations can again be received in Lebanon.
The goal of this visit, for Reporters Without Borders, is to demonstrate its solidarity with Lebanon’s journalists - regardless of the positions of the media concerned - and to stress that there can be no grounds for targeting journalists, who like all civilians are protected by the Geneva Conventions, or for targeting any news media, which - according to international conventions - cannot be viewed as military targets.
Reporters Without Borders is therefore preparing to ask the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) to investigate these Israeli attacks on the grounds that they are violations of the Geneva Conventions. (This Berne-based commission was created to investigate any alleged serious violation of the conventions.)
The Reporters Without Borders secretary-general took advantage of the trip to meet with Nayla Tueni, whose father, Gebrane Tueni, the chief executive of the Arabic-language daily Al-Nahar, was murdered in a car-bombing on 12 December 2005. They spoke about the investigation in her father’s case, in which the Lebanese judicial authorities have just appointed an investigating judge to handle the case.
Menard also talked to Gisele Khoury, the wife of Samir Kassir, a journalist with French and Lebanese dual citizenship who was killed in a bombing on 2 June 2005. In the investigation of this case, French anti-terrorism judge Jean Louis Bruguiere travelled to Beirut for the first time on July 4.
Finally, Menard was also able to see May Chidiac, the LBC presenter who was badly injured by a bomb on 25 September 2005. Despite losing a leg and an arm in the attack, she has just gone back to work as a programme host on July 25. Menard hailed her courage. He also reiterated that the investigations into all of these bombings must be pursued to the end in order to establish who ordered them.