Israel’s waged war on journalists

Momen Qraiqia a Palestinian photographer who has lost his legs by the Israeli shelling of the Gaza Strip

By Iqbal Tamimi

 

Few days ago Israeli strikes killed three more journalists travelling in their cars in two separate incidents in Gaza city.Surely, the fourth strongest military power in the world and the only army in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons and brags about being equipped with the latest technologies of destruction and which claims its strikes are surgically precise, must have known there were journalists in these cars.

{jcomments on}Mahmoud Al-Komi, cameraman for Al-Aqsa TV and his
colleague Hossam Salameh were killed when their car was hit by an Israeli
missile near Alshifa hospital while they were on their way to the hospital to
report on victims of Israeli attacks. The third journalist, Muhammad Abu Aisha,
Director of Al-Quds Educational radio, was killed in his car in a separate
incident, besides many other attacks on media offices and hotels where
journalists are staying, including the AFP offices in Gaza which have been hit,
along with Deira and Beach hotels, bringing back painful memories of slaying
and maiming many of my colleagues.

Targeting
journalists is not a new Israeli strategy as some people might believe. There
is irrefutable evidence that the Israeli military is targeting journalists
covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Still, many Western media outlets prefer
the cut and paste method of news coverage by recycling the lame excuses provided
to them by the PR department of the IDF which has flattened Gaza several times
while it keeps claiming it was targeting enemy communications.

Friday, 16th
November 2012, the IDF targeted the house of European Agency photographer, Ali
Ibrahim, injuring his 71 years old father, his sister and her daughter, as well
as causing extensive damage to their home. On the same day, the IDF targeted
the headquarters of “Free Media” in the Sheikh Radwan area of the
Gaza Strip, almost completely destroying it. In another strike it has killed
Omar Mashharawi, the 11-month-old baby son of BBC Arabic employee, Jihad
Mashharawi, when his home was targeted on Wednesday.

Israel did not even
care to send warnings ahead of its strike to offer the civilians, including
journalists, the chance to run for their lives. Funny enough in the few times
it has, it has chosen to ‘Tweet’ its warnings, fully aware that Gaza is
suffering electricity cuts and the majority of Gaza population are living below
the poverty line and can’t afford to buy a loaf of bread, let alone have the
luxury of buying a PC, have Internet access and set down browsing.

The IDF has been
targeting journalists and media outlet headquarters directly to bury all
evidence about its crimes. A couple of days ago, on the the 18th of November
2012, the IDF targeted the offices of Al-Quds TV and Al-Aqsa TV in the Gaza
Strip, causing injury to six journalists and a driver working for Al-Quds TV in
addition to causing severe damage to their offices.

Imad Ifranji,
director of Al-Quds TV in Gaza, told MADA that the Israeli occupation forces
fired three missiles at the TV editing and filming department and at the
eleventh floor of al-Shawa – Husari Tower at 1:30 am. IFranji said:
“shelling caused injury to all those who were in the office;
photographers, production assistants and a driver, in addition to significant
damage in the department, the ambulance that rushed to the location to transfer
the injured, and the TV vehicle.” The injured journalists were: Khader
al-Zahar who lost his right leg from below the knee, Hazem Da’our, Mohammed
al-Akhras, Ibrahim Lapad, Hussein al-Madhoun, Omar Ifranji and Darwish Bulbul
who suffered other shrapnel injuries and bruises.

Saed Radwan,
programme director at Al-Aqsa TV, as well reported that Israeli Occupation
warplanes targeted the broadcasting section on the fifteenth floor of Alshorouq
tower, in Alrimal area of Gaza at 6:30am, causing severe damage to the
building, the equipment and studios were destroyed. Radwan added: “and one
rocket penetrated the office of ‘Palestine Media Production’ on the fourteenth
floor”.

The fact that Israel
has not been punished for killing four journalists during the aggression on
Gaza in 2009, enabled its occupation forces to commit further crimes against
journalists and the media institutions, which reflects the urgent need to
prosecute the perpetrators of attacks on freedom of the press.

Next month Bristol
is hosting the Bristol Palestine Film Festival for the second season, where one
of its 90 minute films will be shown on Friday 7th December, 2012 at the
Watershed, has a very important and interesting message, at least from my point
of view as the only Palestinian journalist residing in the city. I am talking
here about the ‘5 Broken Cameras’, film by the Palestinian Emad Burnat.

Cameras became an
extremely important tool for survival; that almost every Palestinian was forced
to carry one, exactly as soldiers carry guns. Palestinians, carrying their
cameras around to defend themselves by collecting visual concrete evidence of
the IDF and its brutal aggression against unarmed civilians, and though it
might be a wearied idea, some use their cameras while filming confrontations or
demonstrations as a shield from the buzzing bullets, as Burnat puts it ‘The
bigger the camera was, the better it is as a shield’.

Their cameras filmed
massacres, uprooting trees, killing animals, destroying Palestinian heritage
and demolishing homes and historical buildings. Cameras became the refuting
device of the recycled lies on mainstream media which kept feeding the audience
with half told stories. Since the Israelis are fully armed and equipped with
tanks, automatic weapons, grenades and drones, the Palestinians should be armed
with cameras that tell their side of the story. Emad is only one of those
people struggling on daily bases to stay alive. When the visitors of the
Festival will watch Emad’s film telling the story of his 5 broken cameras, they
will realise how a journalist tool is perceived by the Israeli occupation as
very dangerous weapon and will understand why journalists are being targeted
and killed, including foreign journalists, such as Welsh cameraman, James
Miller, who was shot by the Israeli army even though they knew perfectly well
that he was a journalist.

While watching a
documentary produced by Aljazeera about targeting journalists carrying cameras,
entitled ‘Shooting the Messenger’ I realised how serious is Israel about targeting
journalists. Especially when I found out that Fadel Shanaa, the Reuters camera
man who appeared in the documentary to talk about Israel’s targeting of journalists
and how many times he escaped death, he himself was targeted and killed too by
the Israeli forces following his interview.

The media is not
doing a great job when covering the attacks on Gaza. It is shocking to watch
television channels invite criminals of war and political losers to advise
people and comment on possible remedies to stop this tragedy, and when offering
Israeli propagandists the biggest share of appearances on the screens to bleach
Israel’s crimes, and manipulate the audiences by using terms such as “Rockets
have continued to be fired from both sides…” to give a false impression of
equal involvement in the aggression or report on targeted journalists in a
stupid way, as if they have missed on following basic health and safety
procedures.   Such reporting is plain
betrayal of our colleagues and our profession.

Iqbal
Tamimi/ Director of Arab Women Media Watch Centre in UK and the Editor-in-Chief
of Journomania.net

 

 

 

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