Voicing concern about attacks on journalists in Lebanon in the past 48 hours and the lack of resources being deployed to protect them, Reporters Without Borders has called on the Israeli authorities to investigate the circumstances in which three journalists with the Lebanese television station New TV were injured on 12 July 2006.
Reporter Bassel Al-Aridi, cameraman Abd Khayyat and assistant cameraman Ziad Sarwan were injured when their vehicle was hit by shots fired from an Israeli helicopter as they crossed a bridge in the south of the country, where they had gone to cover the fighting. This took place during an Israeli air raid aimed at cutting lines of communication and destroying bridges.
“We are very alarmed by the sudden attack on the New TV crew and we call on the authorities to protect journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is unacceptable that journalists should be treated as combatants when they are covering clashes. We point out that this would not be the first time the Israeli army has deliberately targeted journalists.”
New TV said: “The three journalists did not hear the helicopter arrive and do not remember what happened after the shots were fired, recovering consciousness in hospital. Their lives are not in danger. They were taken to Natatiye hospital 70 km southeast of Beirut.” The station added that their vehicle was clearly marked with the New TV logo.
One of the injured journalists said the New TV vehicle sustained more damage than any other, “which suggests to us that it was a targeted attack against our vehicle.”
On 13 July, three employees with Al-Manar, the TV station operated by the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah, sustained minor injuries when its premises in the Shiite suburb of Haret Hreik in south Beirut were struck by a missile during an Israeli air raid. The station said its antenna was not destroyed and broadcasting was not interrupted. “This flagrant and barbaric aggression is targeted at all the Lebanese media,” the station said.
Meanwhile, an Al-Manar correspondent was hit during the bombardment of Qasmiye bridge in the south of the country on 12 July.