Friday, January 16, 2009

Israel targeted buildings housing foreign journalists

The CPJ reported 14 Jan:
The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the death of four Palestinian journalists who have been killed since Israeli military operations began in Gaza on December 27. One journalist was fatally injured while working; three others were killed under unconfirmed circumstances.
IFEX reported on 15 Jan:

Israeli aircraft also bombed Al-Johara Tower in Gaza City, on 9 January, even though the building was clearly marked as housing media staff, report IFEX members. More than 20 news organisations work in Al-Johara, including Iran's English-language Press TV and the Arabic language network Al-Alam. Satellite transmission equipment on the roof of the building was destroyed and at least one journalist was reported injured.

"The Israeli military knows the location of TV facilities, houses and news bureaus in Gaza. It is simply unacceptable that working journalists and their offices should come under fire in this way," said CPJ. "Journalists enjoy protections under international law in military campaigns such as the one in Gaza. Israel must cease its attacks on the media immediately."

Media facilities have come under Israeli fire in two other instances since the military campaign started. The IDF shelled the offices of the Hamas-affiliated "Al-Risala" newsweekly on 5 January and the headquarters of Al-Aqsa TV on 29 December. Al-Aqsa continues to broadcast from a remote location.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (Mada) and IFJ also report that two of Al-Alam's journalists, Khadir Shahin and his producer, have been unlawfully detained by the IDF since 5 January. "Israel has no legitimate reason to detain journalists who are neither on its soil nor involved in fighting in Gaza," said IFJ.

Meanwhile, IFEX members welcomed the UN Human Rights Council resolution of 12 January which calls for "free access of media to areas of conflict through media corridors." IFJ is urging the UN to investigate the targeting of media by Israeli forces and to take action against Israel where it has violated international law and the resolution.

Despite an Israeli Supreme Court ruling ordering the government to allow a limited pool of journalists to enter Gaza, the army continues to block entry of foreign reporters.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) points out that under international law, journalists must be accorded the same protection as civilians. In addition, RSF notes that Reuters -- which had an office in a facility targeted -- had told the Israeli military the location of its office.

IFEX says that Al-Johara Tower was bombed; RSF mentions the bombing of Shurouq Tower. Both buildings are reported to have housed a number of news organizations. I wonder if they referring to the same building, or two facilities?

From the Frontline blogged about the attacks on Al-Johara Tower. RSF gathers its Gaza war press releases here. RSF also invites its readers to look at an Israeli Gaza human rights groups' blog. It is informative. With the restrictions on journalists still in effect, bloggers' "there live" reports -- which I have gathered here -- provide critical insight into the conflict.

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