Defense groups urged the International Criminal Court to determine whether Israeli airstrikes that destroyed a Gaza building containing media constituted a war crime.
Israeli missiles flattened the 13-storey Al-Jalaa tower in Gaza City, which on Saturday hosted Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network and the American news agency The Associated Press.
Israel claimed that the building housed not only news offices, but a Hamas office, which controls the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military gave the building owner an hour to evacuate before attacking and tearing it down on live television.
“Deliberately directing the media is a war crime,” Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.
“By intentionally destroying the media, the Israeli Defense Forces not only cause unacceptable material damage to intelligence operations, but also obstruct media coverage of a conflict that directly affects the civilian population.”
Deloire added: “We call on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to determine whether these airstrikes constitute war crimes.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that he has yet to see any evidence to support Israel’s claim that Hamas operated on the building. Blinken said he pressured Israel to justify the blatant attack.
“Pattern of collective punishment”
Saleh Hijazi, deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, told Al Jazeera that Israel was trying to hide what it was doing in Gaza and the people of Gaza, and added that Amnesty has been prevented from to enter the enclave since 2012.
“We now have an open investigation by the International Criminal Court into the situation in the Palestinian territories since 2014. We call on the ICC to examine this incident,” he said, referring to the bombing of international media offices by Israeli forces. .
“Even if there is a legitimate military target, it is disproportionate to attack a building in such a way,” Hijazi added.
“Such a disproportionate attack amounts to war crimes. In addition, this follows a pattern of collective punishment against the Palestinian people in Gaza. “
Meanwhile, the top editor of The Associated Press called for an independent investigation into the Israeli airstrike, saying the public deserves to know the facts.
AP executive editor Sally Buzbee said Sunday that the Israeli government has not yet provided clear evidence to support its attack, which completely leveled the al-Jalaa tower.
“We’re in a conflict situation,” Buzbee said. “We are not taking sides in this conflict. We heard the Israelis say they had evidence, we don’t know what that evidence is. We believe it is appropriate at this time to have an independent look at what happened yesterday: an independent investigation. “
The pro-Palestinian movement Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions also said that the Israeli attack on Al Jazeera and The Associated Press in Gaza was a war crime under international law, adding that the bias of the mainstream media directly contributes to Israeli impunity.
“Regardless of Israel’s turnaround and the fact that Israel’s attacks on journalists are routine and systematic, this latest Israeli attack on Gaza, like many others, amounts to a collective punishment, a war crime under international law. “he said in a statement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday defended the strike, alleging that the building also housed a Palestinian “terrorist” intelligence office.