Israeli violence systematic against Journalistic freedom; Sparks outrage worldwide

Al-Jazeera journalists stand next to the rubble of Jala Tower, which was housing international press offices, following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on May 15, 2021. An Israeli air strike demolished the 13-floor building housing Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television and American news agency The Associated Press in the Gaza Strip. Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP

Gaza City building that housed Al Jazeera Media network and the Associated Press along with several other residential buildings were destroyed in an Israeli strike on Saturday. For the Israeli military, the building had “contained military assets belonging to the intelligence offices of the Hamas terror organization”. The claim currently lay baseless. At least one palastenian reporter was injured by the destruction according to local coverage.

The attack on Media outlets and journalists has been systematic since the Israeli air raids on the coastal Palestinian territory started on Monday.

“The attack on the building that we have seen is a shocking and, it seems to me, catastrophic attempt to shut down media, to silence criticism, and worst of all, to create a cloak of secrecy around this conflict,” said Aidan White, founder of the Ethical Journalism Network, a network of global journalists and press rights groups while addressing the bombings of media houses in Gaza city.

“This latest attack on a building long known by Israel to house international media raises the specter that the Israel Defense Forces is deliberately targeting media facilities in order to disrupt coverage of the human suffering in Gaza, we demand that the Israeli government provide a detailed and documented justification for this military attack on a civilian facility given the possible violation of international humanitarian law. Journalists have an obligation and duty to cover unfolding events in Gaza and it would be illegal for the IDF to use military means to prevent it.” said Committee to Protect Journalists’ Executive Director Joel Simon.

Earlier this week, Israeli air strikes attacked two Gaza city office buildings housing more than a dozen media outlets in the span of two days. These include the 12-story Al-Jawhara building, which housed the offices of London-based Qatari broadcaster Al-Araby TV, News website and newspaper Felestin (Palestine), Kata’eb Hezbollah-affiliated Iraqi broadcaster Al-Etejah TV, Pro-Fatah broadcaster Al-Kofiya TV, Jordanian broadcaster Al-Mamlaka, Sabq24 News Agency, News website Al-Bawaba 24, Production company Watania News Agency and Media rights group Forum of Palestinian Journalists.

The Al-Shorouk building, which had the offices of Al-Aqsa TV and Al-Aqsa Radio, The media production company PMP, Al-Quds Today and The Palestinian National Authority-affiliated newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida was also bombed and destroyed.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned Israel’s disproportionate use of force against journalists, “who should under no circumstances be treated as parties to the armed conflict”.

On 10th May, Turkish photographer Esat Firas was fired upon by a stun grenade while teargas grenades were fired at freelancers Usaid Amarneh, Mohammad Samreen, Liwa Abu Armila, Ethar Abu Gharbia and Ahmed Jaradat. Another video circulating the same days showed Palestinian freelance photographer Rami Al-Khatib being beaten by two Israeli policemen.

On 7th May, at least seven journalists were injured by rubber bullets fired by Israeli soldiers that were covering the Israeli violence against the demonstrators on Temple Mount. These include four Palestinian freelancers–Saleh Zighari, Atta Awisat, Baraah Abo Ramouz and Abdul Afu Zughayer and three journalists for the Turkish news agency Anadolu – Turkish photographer Turgut Alp Boyraz and Palestinian photographers Mustafa Al-Kharouf and Faiz Abu Rmeleh.

According to the RSF report, Palestianian freelancer Ibraheem Sinjlawi was ambushed four times by Israeli police to stop him from filming violence in Sheikh Jarrah. Mahmoud Maatan and Ahmed Al-Safdi were briefly arrested for their coverage of the previous day’s Israel aggression.