Media organisations demand Israel explain destruction of news offices

Media organisations demand Israel explain destruction of news offices

16/5/2021 8:00:00 AM

Media organisations demand Israel explain destruction of news offices

NEW YORK: News organisations demanded an explanation on Saturday (May 15) for an Israeli airstrike that targeted and destroyed a Gaza City ...

BookmarkNEW YORK: News organisations demanded an explanation on Saturday (May 15) for an Israeli airstrike that targeted and destroyed a Gaza City building housing the offices of the Associated Press, broadcaster Al-Jazeera and other media outlets.AP journalists and other tenants were safely evacuated from the 12-storey al-Jalaa tower after the Israeli military warned of an imminent strike. Three heavy missiles hit the building within the hour, disrupting coverage of the ongoing conflict between' Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel. At least 145 people in Gaza and eight in Israel have been killed since the fighting erupted on Monday night.

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AdvertisementAdvertisement“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt said. He said the American news agency was seeking information from the Israeli government and engaging with the US State Department to learn more.

Mostefa Souag, acting director-general of Al-Jazeera Media Network, called the strike a “war crime” and a “clear act” to stop journalists from reporting on the conflict. Kuwait state television also had office space in the now-collapsed Gaza City building.

“The targeting of news organisations is completely unacceptable, even during an armed conflict. It represents a gross violation of human rights and internationally agreed norms,” Barbara Trionfi, the executive director of the International Press Institute, said.

AdvertisementAdvertisementIn a standard Israeli response, the military said that Hamas was operating inside the building, and it accused the militant group of using journalists as human shields. But it provided no evidence to back up the claims.Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus claimed that Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office and weapons development. He alleged “a highly advanced technological tool” that the militant group used in the fighting was “within or on the building".

But Conricus said he could not provide evidence to back up the claims without “compromising” intelligence efforts. He added, however: “I think it’s a legitimate request to see more information, and I will try to provide it.”A ball of fire erupts from a building housing various international media, including The Associated Press, after an Israeli airstrike on Saturday, May 15, 2021 in Gaza City. (Mahmud Hams /Pool Photo via AP)

AdvertisementPruitt, the AP's CEO, said the news agency had been in the building for 15 years and “we have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building”."We have called on the Israeli government to put forward the evidence," he said. “This is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”

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Some press freedom advocates said the strike raised suspicions that Israel was trying to hinder coverage of the conflict. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists demanded Israel “provide a detailed and documented justification” for the strike.

“This latest attack on a building long known by Israel to house international media raises the spectre that the Israel Defense Forces is deliberately targeting media facilities in order to disrupt coverage of the human suffering in Gaza,” the group’s executive director, Joel Simon, said in a statement.

The Washington-based National Press Club called the strike “part of a pattern this week of Israeli forces destroying buildings in Gaza that house media organisations" and also questioned whether the assaults seek to “impair independent and accurate coverage of the conflict”.

“We call upon Israeli authorities to halt strikes on facilities known to house press,” the National Press Club said."Reliable media organizations are the best sources of accurate information about events in Gaza, and they must not be prevented from doing their vital job.”

READ: Thousands rally across Europe to back PalestiniansThe bombing followed media consternation over an Israeli military statement that prompted some news organisations, including The Wall Street Journal, to erroneously report early Friday that Israel had launched a ground invasion of Gaza.

Israeli military commentators said the media had been used in a ruse to lure Hamas militants into a deadly trap. Conricus denied that the military engaged in a deliberate deception when it tweeted falsely Friday that ground forces were engaging in Gaza, calling it “an honest mistake”.

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The AP, based on its analysis of the army’s statement, phone calls to military officials and on the ground reporting in Gaza, concluded there was no ground incursion and did not report there was one.An Israeli airstrike hits the high-rise building that houses The Associated Press' offices in Gaza City, Saturday, May 15, 2021. The airstrike Saturday came roughly an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The strike on a building known to have the offices of international media outlets came as a shock to reporters who had felt relatively protected there.“Now, one can understand the feeling of the people whose homes have been destroyed by such kind of air attacks,” Al-Jazeera producer Safwat al-Kahlout, who was at the bureau in Gaza when the evacuation warning came, told the broadcaster Saturday. “It’s really difficult to wake up one day and then you realize that your office is not there with all the career experiences, memories that you’ve had.”

AP’s top floor offices and roof terrace on the now-destroyed building had provided a prime location for covering fighting in Gaza. The news agency’s camera offered 24-hour live shots this week as Hamas rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city.

Just a day before the bombing, AP correspondent Fares Akram wrote in a personal story that the AP office was the only place in Gaza where he felt “somewhat safe”.“The Israeli military has the coordinates of the high-rise, so it’s less likely a bomb will bring it crashing down,” Akram wrote.

The next day, Akram tweeted about running from the building and watching its destruction from afar.The New York Times joined other news organisations in expressing alarm about the targeting of al-Jalaa tower.“The ability of the press to report on the ground is a profoundly important issue that has an impact on everyone." the newspaper's vice president of communications, Danielle Rhoades Ha, said. “A free and independent press is essential to helping to inform people, bridge differences and end the conflict.”

Read more: CNA »

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Unfair to the Israelis coz Hamas can do whatever they want shooting missiles at Israel and destroying buildings and killing civilians. Trying to shutdown the press for reporting Isreal action 😳 Media organisation excludes CNN, Fox news, BBC, etc. The Anglo-Saxon media are quiet. RaiseVoiceAgainst_IsrealiTerrorism ShameOnIsreal SolidarityWithPalestine FreePalestine

I think Hamas will soon be setting their headquarters in or beside hospitals. People do not look at the root cause of the issues, and just point their fingers. Maybe its easier that way? Trying to regain control of the narrative. Happened before. US supports Israel Full video here Animals ! some say they were warned & given 1 hour while al jezeera puts it as 10 minutes. who is lying about the 1 hour or 10 minutes i dont know but this i know, the israeli citizens were given only 2 minutes to evacuated by their own warning system as thousands of rockets rain down.

this is a p good website about what's happening in palestine, as well as the history of the region! it's written by palestinians who know what they're talking about since their people have lived there for hundreds of years Demand the basturds explain. Absolutely NO demand to stop the atrocities. Yup. Wtf.

media organisations: pls explain it Israel: Hamas was hiding there media organisations: ah ok.. sorry sorry “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. ” Deuteronomy 20:3-4

Now it’s out of control. And China leads the way in UN. Time to get rid of the autocratic vetoes within the security council that are Undemocratic. It should be a majority vote wins. And security council should be expanded to reflect the 21st century. Err.. to prevent the truth/evidences from getting out