Category: Press Releases, Palestinian Territories, Israel, MENA

Al Jazeera reports Gaza bureau fired upon

IPI concerned for safety of journalists covering ongoing conflict


A Palestinian boy walks past the remains of a house which witnesses said was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on July 23, 2014. Israel launched its offensive on July 8 to halt missile salvos by Hamas Islamists, who were struggling under the weight of an Israeli-Egyptian economic blockade and angered by a crackdown on their supporters in the West Bank. Some 643 Palestinians, many of them children and civilians, have died in the conflagration and some 29 Israeli soldiers have been killed. Two civilians have been slain by rocket fire. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

VIENNA, July 23, 2014 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today expressed concern for the safety of journalists in Gaza after Al Jazeera accused Israeli forces of firing on its local bureau.

The Guardian reported that Israel’s military denied having targeted the building after Al Jazeera correspondents said yesterday that two shots were fired into its 11th-floor office.

The network noted that the incident came one day after Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused it of acting as a mouthpiece for Hamas and said that Israel would seek to ban Al Jazeera’s operations.

Al Jazeera, in a statement yesterday, said: “A threat to one [journalist] is a threat to all, and this is a dark sign for all journalists operating in the territory.”

Three Palestinian media outlets said last week that the buildings in which their offices are housed were hit by Israeli air strikes that left some journalists injured. At least two media professionals have died since Israel initiated military operations in Gaza on July 8.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) reported that journalist Khaled Hamad*, 26, a cameraman with The Continue Agency for Television Production, was killed Sunday when Israeli forces shelled the Al-Shujaieh neighbourhood in Gaza City. He was reportedly wearing a vest marked “Press” at the time.

On July 9, Hamid Shihab, a 30-year-old driver for Gaza-based press agency Media 24, died in an Israeli airstrike targeting his vehicle. Photographs from the scene showed the word “TV” written in red on the car’s hood.

“We are alarmed by the mounting number of casualties in this conflict and by the accusations that media professionals have been targeted,” IPI Senior Press Freedom Adviser Steven M. Ellis said. “We urge all sides to exercise restraint and to ensure that journalists are not deliberately put into harm’s way and are allowed to do their job.”

Foreign journalists reported on Thursday that Israel ordered them to evacuate beachfront hotels in Gaza ahead of a ground offensive that began that night. On Saturday, the Israeli Government Press Office sent an email to journalists in which it accused Hamas of using journalists as human shields and warned that “Israel is not in any way responsible for injury or damage that may occur as a result of field reporting”.

Other foreign journalists reported that the Israeli military was requiring journalists entering Gaza to sign a waiver absolving Israel of responsibility if those journalists were hurt or killed.

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This statement was corrected on July 24, 2014. The original incorrectly identified the journalist as "Khalid" Hamad.