The other war in Gaza


It’s the one being fought in — and sometimes on — the media. The Israel Defense Forces have not only tweeted up a storm since beginning their air strikes days ago, but they’ve even maintained a much-debated liveblog of their operations, complete with “chest-thumping” and over-the-top imagery (see graphic at right).

Meanwhile, amidst reports that nine women and small children were killed in an airstrike today, journalists in the region are increasingly concerned that they’re becoming targets as well:

Seven journalists were injured in the first attack, around 1:40 a.m., in the Shawa and Hossari Building in downtown Gaza City. It houses two local radio stations — one run by the militant Islamic Jihad — and the offices of the Ma’an Palestinian news agency as well as the German broadcaster ARD.

One of the journalists injured on Sunday, Khader Zahar of the Beirut-based Al Quds satellite channel, was said to have lost a leg in the explosion, which hit its 11th-floor studio.

The Israeli military referred to the two sites as “Hamas operational communication sites that were identified by precise intelligence…”

It urged “international journalists and correspondents who operate in the Gaza Strip carrying out their duties, to stay clear of Hamas’s bases and facilities — which serve them in their activity against the citizens of Israel.”

Ayman Amar, a spokesman for the Al Quds television, said seven camera operators and editors were resting on couches in their offices around 1:30 a.m. when a missile fired from an Israeli helicopter ripped through the roof. They fled, and three more bombs dropped around 10 minutes later, Mr. Amar said.

Al Quds, an independent channel with 50 employees in the Gaza Strip, has had offices in the building since 2007, and on its top floor since 2011. Since the conflict escalated, journalists have been working around the clock and catching naps in the office. Some of its employees were back out on the streets on Sunday, Mr. Amar said, and others were trying to clear the wreckage from the five-room editing studio.

“We never expected that it would hit us,” he added. “So far we don’t know why; there are no reasons. We will not stop. It is our duty toward our cause to support the Palestinian people.”

Later, a missile that was dropped from an Apache helicopter hit the top of the 15-story Al Shoruq Building, which is also downtown, witnesses said.

The target was the Hamas channel that broadcasts locally, Al Aqsa, but the building also contains offices of the Al Arabiya television network and the Middle East Broadcast Center, which runs it, as well as the live studio of an Iranian television station and two production companies — the Gaza Media Center and Mayadeen — that provide services for Fox News, Sky News, CBS and Al Jazeera.

No one was injured in that attack. Witnesses said that everyone in the building fled after a warning missile was fired in the stairwell, two minutes before the attack on the roof.

The Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem said it was “concerned” by the attacks, recalling a United Nations ruling that “journalists, media professionals and associated personnel engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered civilians, to be respected and protected as such.”

More on the alleged media intimidation and targeting here.


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