Israeli airstrikes damage more offices housing international journalists in Gaza City

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Yesterday night, in separate Israeli airstrikes, the offices of Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Al Jazeera English were struck or damaged in Gaza City. The airstrike struck the Al-Showa media building, the third such strike in three days.

Badge of the Israel Defense Forces

"A short while ago, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] targeted a Hamas intelligence operations center on the seventh floor of a media building in Gaza. A direct hit was confirmed," said the IDF in a statement. "The Hamas terrorists weren't in the media building to be interviewed. They were there to communicate with field operatives and plan attacks".

Journalists in Gaza City in particular, have been victims of violence in the past three days. Earlier yesterday, three Palestinian journalists were killed in two separate airstrikes. Al-Aqsa cameramen Mahmoud al-Koumi and Husam Salameh were killed when an Israeli airstrike struck their car which was reported to be marked as 'Press.' Al-Quds Educational Radio personality Muhammad Abu Aisha was killed in the second airstrike which also struck his car. On Sunday, at least six journalists were injured when an Israeli airstrike first struck the Al-Showa media building housing international journalists. Sky News, RT News, Ma’an news agency, and al-Quds TV, among other agencies, all have offices located in the building.

The IDF has admitted to targeting buildings belonging to media outlets, but states that such buildings are used for "Hamas' operational communications" and denies that any journalists were targets.

"We obviously knew there were journalists in the building, so we did not attack other floors in the building", said Avital Leibovich, a spokesperson for the IDF on Monday.

In an interview on the English channel of Al Jazeera, also on Monday, an Israeli government spokesperson said "As far as I know, no foreign journalists were hurt whatsoever" in the airstrike on Sunday. "I am not aware...oh you are talking about...first of all, maybe we have a discussion about who is a journalist," added the spokesperson who claims that Al-Aqsa is a Hamas control facility. The spokesperson went on to add that, "From our point of view, that's not a legitimate journalist like an Al Jazeera journalist" and that none of those injured was a "bona fide journalist."

According to the AFP's own report, they were warned directly by the IDF via their Twitter account not to setup offices in the Showa building in a message saying, "This building housed a Hamas intelligence HQ, do not be used as human shields."