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Journalists Attacked During the Israeli Operation Pillar of Defense PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 00:00

(Al Shorouq media tower building in Gaza City that was attacked on 18th November 2012. Photo courtesy: Palestine Media Production)



During the recent Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, Operation Pillar of Defence (14 – 21 November 2012), Israeli Air Force targeted various media offices in a number of attacks, causing the deaths of at least 2 journalists and the injury of 10 others. At approximately 01:35 on Sunday, 18 November 2012, Israeli warplanes fired 4 missiles at the office of al-Quds Satellite Channel, which is located on the top floor of the 11-storey Shawa and Hussari media tower building in Gaza City.  The missiles penetrated the roof of the building and exploded inside the office. Due to this attack a journalist’s leg was amputated.


Another incident happened at approximately 06:55 on Sunday, 18 November 2012, in which an Israeli warplane targeted the 15-storey al Shorouq tower, in western Gaza City. Various media offices including Fox News, Abu Dhabi Satellite Channel, Dubai Channel, al Arabiya News Channel, MBC, and Palestine Media Production are located in this tower. Israeli air forces fired one missile at the office of the al Aqsa Television located on the top floor of the tower. Mazen Naeem, Mohammed al Sharafi, and Mohammed Al Mubayidh, three journalists who work with the Palestine Media Production, were injured in the attack.


Mazen Naem, 26, recalls the incident: “At around 6:55 am, my colleague, Mohammad al Sharafi, and I were preparing to do a live interview from the street right outside the al Shorouq tower. While we were doing sound tests, we heard a very loud explosion. Initially, I did not realize where the sound came from and, just as we both were thinking about taking shelter, somewhere nearby different objects, like pieces of glass from the windows and some boxes, fell on our heads from above. That is when I understood that the media tower had been attacked. When I tried to look up to see which floor was hit, something hit my right eye and, as a reaction, I covered it with my hands. Mohammad's right knee was injured as a heavy object fell on it. Luckily, we were wearing helmets and vests, because of which we were not injured very badly. We were taken by surprise as we had not received any warning about that attack.”


Mazen further describes the incident , saying, “Immediately after this happened, we ran across the street and took shelter nearby. During this time, some passers and onlookers surrounded the place to see what had happened. Within just three minutes of the attack I heard another very loud explosion, but I could not see where this attack had taken place. We both were very worried about our colleagues and other people in the building, as we did not know if they were alive. I later learned that another one of my colleagues, Mohammed Al Mubayidh, who was on the 15th floor at the time of the attack was injured by an 8 mm piece of glass that hit his leg.”


 “A few minutes later, ambulances and fire fighters arrived at the spot. They started evacuating people who were trapped inside the building, although the fire fighters could not extinguish the fire on the 15th floor in time because they too had to help people get out of the building. The ambulances took my colleagues and other injured to the nearby al Shifa hospital, whereas I went to the eye hospital in Nassar in a taxi. I was treated as soon as I reached the eye hospital. They cleaned my eye, and extracted the smaller particles that had entered it during the explosion. Luckily, it wasn’t anything serious. They applied some medicinal liquid on my eye, and I continued with this treatment for the next 7 days or so.”



(An injured journalist being taken to the hospital. Photo courtesy: Palestine Media Production)


Mohammed al Sharafi described his experience: “We were outside the media tower when the attack happened and some pieces of the debris fell on me, injuring my knee. The doctors at al Shifa hospital took an X-ray of my leg and treated me. They described my injury as a minor one, but I was limping for several days due to the injury.”


Mohammed al Mubayidh said: “After the attack on the media tower, we relocated to the Beach Hotel. We rented their hall and continued working from there. But, during the offensive, another airstrike hit the land adjacent to the hotel and another colleague of ours, Akram al Sattari, was injured in that explosion.”




(Journalists trying to work from the Beach Hotel. Photo courtesy: Palestine Media Production)


Abdelghani Jaber, the chairman of Palestine Media Production, said that, “It was a difficult time as I could not ensure the safety of my own staff. Very honestly, no one could have ensured anyone’s safety at any point during those eight days.”


Mazen spoke about the issue of protection for journalists, saying: “I was told that journalists are protected by the Geneva Conventions, and that such things do not happen to us because we just do our reporting work, but looking at how the incidents occurred I feel as if in a situation like this there is nothing in the law that can protect anyone.”



(Media equipment in a van outside the Beach Hotel. Photo courtesy: Palestine Media Production)



Under Article 79 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict are to be considered as civilians and they enjoy the general protection against dangers arising from military operation. The ICRC has identified this principle as a rule of customary international humanitarian law, which is applicable to every party to every armed conflict. International Humanitarian Law prohibits an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 December 2012 10:49

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