Friday, August 1, 2014

Silencing the truth: Israel killing, intimidating journalists amid Gaza communication blackout

© Yasser Qudih / APA images
Israeli air forces hit a car marked as press in
Gaza City on 9 July; a Palestinian media
worker was killed in the strike | Jul 30, 2014 | Charlotte Silver
"Israeli military impunity benefits from the short memory of the media and so-called international community. The most recent attacks on journalists can be seen as a continuation of this long pattern of committing the crime of targeting journalists with no consequence."
Israel is targeting journalists in the Gaza Strip like it did during its last two major attacks on the 1.8 million Palestinians there.

Since the current assault began on 7 July, Israel has killed at least seven Palestinian journalists and media workers and directly struck at least four media offices. The latest journalist to be killed, Rami Rayyan, was reporting on families going to the market during what they thought was a four-hour ceasefire on Wednesday afternoon when Israel shelled the Shujaiya market.

The Electronic Intifada spoke with journalist Yousef Al-Helou just after the attack.

"Journalists say it is an Israeli attempt to silence the truth," Al-Helou said. "But Palestinian journalists are determined to continue their work because they say that it is their duty to expose Israeli actions in Gaza that amount to war crimes." (Listen to the full interview with Yousef Al-Helou via the audio player at the top of this page, or read the rush transcript below.)

Attacks on media centers 

© Mohammed Asad/APA images
On Tuesday, 29 July, Israel bombed an Al-Aqsa TV office in the northeast part of Gaza City. Forty-five minutes later, in another part of the city, Israel struck an Al-Aqsa radio office. No one was killed in those attacks, but the offices suffered damage to their media equipment. Both the TV and radio stations resumed broadcasting after brief interruptions.

Last week on 27 July, an Israeli rocket hit another Al-Aqsa TV office, and on 22 July the offices of Al Jazeera were struck.

While the Israeli military apologized for firing at Qatar-based Al Jazeera, calling it an "error" and claiming that the military would "investigate" the incident, Israel has not conceded responsibility for hitting the Palestinian broadcasting networks. In an emailed statement, the Israeli military justified the strikes, saying they were aimed at "the propaganda dissemination capabilities used to broadcast the messages of [Hamas'] military wing."

The journalist Yousef Al-Helou said that Palestinian journalists have received text messages warning them of their danger: "Now the Israeli army has sent six messages to journalist in Gaza ordering them to stay away, or saying that the Israeli army will not be responsible for your safety."  

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