The International Federation of Journalists today condemned Israeli “criminal disregard for the safety of journalists” after the Israeli armed forces carried out an attack on a media house in Gaza.
On the evening of June 29, Apache helicopter gunships fired five rockets at a 12-storey building housing the local offices of international news organisations including the BBC, CNN, NBC and Al-Jazeera in central Gaza City. Two technicians were among three Palestinians injured in the attack.
“This attack shows criminal disregard for the lives of journalists and media staff,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “International law protects civilians such as journalists from such attacks, but this targeting of media threatened the lives of many of our colleagues. It is a callous, arrogant and flagrant abdication of responsibility.”
Israeli officials say the target of the operation was the third-floor office of the Al-Saada weekly, which has close links to the Palestinian radical Islamic movement Hamas. But the IFJ says that the Israeli forces were reckless in the attack and put the lives of other media staff at risk.
The IFJ is backing the Foreign Press Association in Israel, which said the attack “demonstrated a ‘callous disregard’ for the lives of journalists”.
“When a country that champions democratic principles like Israel targets journalists and puts innocent civilians at risk it moves the crisis of news safety into a new and dangerous dimension,” said White. The IFJ said that it was astonished by an attack on the Foreign Correspondents Group by the Government Press Office, which called the protest hypocritical.
“The Government press office suggests that journalists have only themselves to blame by being in Gaza. This is precisely the sort of contempt for journalists and their work that encourages fresh attacks on journalists who are only doing their job by trying to report from a conflict that millions of people believe should be subject to scrutiny,” said White.
“A government press office that pours scorn on the concerns of journalists’ groups striving to protect their colleagues is no friend of journalism or free expression,” said White.
The IFJ is calling upon the Israeli authorities and the IDF to carry out an immediate and thorough investigation into the incident.
“This attack should never have happened. Those responsible should be disciplined and Israel should give clear undertakings that it will not recklessly threaten the security of journalists and media staff again,” said White.
The IFJ has endorsed safety-training campaigns for media professionals in Palestine and promotes practical action worldwide to increase protection of journalists through the International News Safety Institute.
Further information: + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries