Proponents of press freedom have strongly condemned it The Israeli bombing of a building in Gaza which housed the offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press news agency, calling it a blatant attempt to “silence” journalists covering the ongoing Israeli army offensive that has killed dozens of people .
The 11-story Al-Jalaa building, which also houses several residences and other offices, was destroyed in an Israeli strike on Saturday afternoon. Dust and debris shot into the air as the building overturned and fell to the ground.
“The attack on the building we saw is a shocking and, I find, catastrophic attempt to shut down the media, silence criticism and, worst of all, create a layer of secrecy around this conflict, ”said Aidan White, founder of the Ethical Journalism Network, a network of global journalists and press rights groups.
At least 140 Palestinians, including 39 children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Israeli airstrikes began on Palestinian coastal territory on Monday. About 950 people have been injured.
Violence comes after Israel’s plan forcibly displacing Palestinian families of occupied East Jerusalem and its attacks on the Palestinian faithful on the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, it spurred widespread protests in Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank, and the interior of Israel.
Hamas, the Palestinian faction that governs Gaza, said it began firing rockets at Israel in response to the Israeli crackdown.
Israel justified the strike on the Al-Jalaa building on Saturday by saying the building contained military goods from Hamas, a claim that was vehemently rejected.
“We call on the international community to condemn these barbaric actions and address journalists and demand immediate international action to hold Israel accountable for its deliberate aim against journalists and media institutions,” Drs. Net, he said in a statement after the attack.
Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt said the news agency was “shocked and horrified” by the strike, and said the Israeli military “has always known the location of our office and I knew there were journalists. “
“This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life. A dozen journalists and freelancers from the AP were inside the building and, fortunately, we were able to evacuate them in time, ”Pruitt dit.
‘Silence the story’
It is not the first time Israel has targeted media organizations and journalists in its military offensives in the Gaza Strip.
In 2014, Palestinian rights group Al Haq said that “indiscriminate attacks on media buildings have been an important feature” of Israel’s military offensive on Palestinian territory that year, which the United Nations dit killed more than 1,500 Palestinian civilians, including more than 500 children.
“Since the coordinates of the media buildings were provided to Israel in order to ensure their protection, any direct attack on these buildings constitutes an unjustifiable violation of humanitarian law,” Al Haq dit In that moment.
Al Jazeera chief political analyst Marwan Bishara said Saturday’s bombing was not just in Al Jazeera, nor in the journalists themselves, who were warned an hour before the impending strike to leave the building. .
“The attack is on journalism, the attack on information: freedom and the flow of information,” Bishara said.
“Closing the international media in Gaza, the way it has happened, with such tragic images … drops all the mantras of Israel on freedom of expression, democracy, human rights, freedom of information “.
Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), dit the attack raises the specter that the Israeli army “is deliberately targeting media facilities in order to break the coverage of human suffering in Gaza.”
The Israeli military bombed two Gaza City office buildings that housed more than a dozen media outlets on May 11 and 12, CPJ reported earlier this week, citing local Palestinian news and journalists.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Dear, deputy secretary general of the International Federation of Journalists, said Israeli justifications for his bombing on Saturday are very short. “We believe this is a deliberate attempt to silence the story being told from Gaza,” Dear told Al Jazeera.
“This is the third attack on a tower that houses various media, in addition to this we have recorded 30 incidents of beaten or arrested journalists. It is clear that this is not an accident, but a systematic orientation of the media in Gaza to prevent it from being reported. “
This was echoed by Barbara Trionfi, executive director of the Vienna International Press Institute, who said the attack was “absolutely horrific”. “Whatever the reason for this attack, they are totally unacceptable,” Triumph told Al Jazeera.