Gaza journalists under fire: Holding Israel accountable for targeting media

This statement was originally published on on 16 May 2021.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) condemns the Israeli occupation forces’ targeting of journalists and media institutions in the Gaza Strip since the start of the Israeli aggression on the Strip on 11 May, to conceal the crimes committed against civilians.

MADA Center monitored about 50 violations against media freedoms during these days, which varied from injuries to journalists while they were covering the events, to the bombing and destruction of media institutions.

On Saturday 15 May, the Israeli occupation forces bombed a group of towers that housed a large number of media institutions, including the Al-Jawhara Tower, which housed at least 11 media institutions. The Al-Jalaa Tower is another building that was completely destroyed, even though it contained the offices of several media institutions, including Al-Jazeera, the Associated Press, the office of Al-Mayadeen Channel, and others.

Al-Jazeera reporter Hisham Samir Zaqout (37 years) stated that several warning missiles were fired at Al-Jalaa Tower, located on Ahmed Abdel Aziz Street in the center of Gaza City, half an hour after the owner of the tower received a phone call from the occupation army. However, these missiles did not give them more than ten minutes to vacate, as the tower was targeted by three missiles around 3:30 p.m., fired from warplanes to completely destroy the tower.

Al-Jazeera has 23 employees working in its office. During this bombing, the channel’s office lost most of its equipment, such as broadcasters, computers, televisions, cables, and archives, with the exception of the cameras that were being used by staff covering incidents outside the office.

Journalist Muhammad Bakr al-Louh (33 years), a reporter for Al-Shabab Radio in Gaza, also reported that on the evening of 12 May at 8:30p.m. he went with two of his colleagues – Muhammad Kassab, who works as a sound engineer in the radio, and Muhammad Musa, who works as a cameraman for the same radio station – to cover the threat of bombing of the Al-Jawhara tower, located in the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood in the center of Gaza City. After reaching the scene, they were surprised by the missiles hitting the tower directly, without any warning missiles. Al-Louh was hit in the right leg by shrapnel from the shelling, and suffered bruises and suffocation as a result of gas inhalation. After the coverage ended, he was transferred to Al-Shifa Hospital, where he received the necessary treatment. His colleagues received treatment in the field, as a result of inhaling the gas and dust.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) confirms that these attacks were nothing but a link in a series of widespread, serious and repeated Israeli attacks against media freedoms in Palestine; at the same time, it renews its demand for international institutions concerned with the protection of journalists and media institutions to pursue the perpetrators of these attacks and bring them to justice. It has been proven that impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes, and other crimes, has over the years provided an incentive for them to continue committing crimes.

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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