PCHR Strongly Condemns Targeting of Journalists in Gaza by Israeli Warplanes

Ref: 128/2012
Time: 11:00 GMT

PCHR Strongly Condemns Targeting of Journalists in Gaza by Israeli Warplanes

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the wounding of 10 journalists and media professionals while they were carrying out their jobs, when Israeli Occupation Forces attacked the offices of al-Quds Television and al-Aqsa Television this morning.  PCHR stresses that journalists and media professionals, like civilian persons, enjoy special protection in time of war under international humanitarian law; targeting them constitutes a systematic crime to silence the press and prevent journalists from reporting on the crimes that are being committed by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 01:35 on Sunday, 18 November 2012, Israeli warplanes fired 4 missiles at the office of al-Quds Satellite Channel, which is located on the top floor of the 11-storey Shawa and Hussari tower building in Gaza City.  The missiles penetrated the roof of the building and exploded inside the office.  As a result, 7 journalists and trainees who were in the office were wounded.  The wounds of two were described as serious; Khader al-Zahhar, 20, lost his leg in the attack and sustained shrapnel wounds throughout his body, and Mohammed al-Akhras, 20, also sustained extensive shrapnel wounds.  The other persons who were wounded are:

1)     Ibrahim Lubbas, 22, who sustained bruising throughout his body;

2)     Omar al-Efranji, 18, who sustained bruising throughout his body;

3)     Hussein al-Madhoun, 22, who sustained bruising throughout his body;

4)     Hazem al-Da’our, 25, who suffered from temporary suffocation; and

5)     Darwish Bulbol, 29, who suffered from temporary suffocation. 

The office and the nearby offices of al-Quds Radio and Ramattan News Agency were extensively damaged.

At approximately 06:55. also on Sunday, a missile was fired at the office of al-Aqsa Television on the 15th floor of al-Shorouq tower building in the west of Gaza City.  The missile penetrated to the 14th floor and exploded inside the offices of Palestine Media Production (PMP).  As a result, 3 journalists were moderately wounded:

1)     Mazen Naeem, 27, Correspondent of Press TV;

2)     Mohammed al-Sharafi, 30; a cameraman of PMP; and

3)     Mohammed al-Mubayidh, 25, a cameraman of PMP

The offices of al-Aqsa Television and PMP were damaged.

At the time of writing this press release, media reports indicate that, early this afternoon, Israeli forces requested international journalists to leave al-Shorouq tower building in Gaza City; this indicates that more crimes may be committed against journalists and media institutions in the Gaza Strip.  It is worth noting that many local and international press and media outlets use these offices, including Fox News, Abu Dhabi Satellite Channel, Dubai Channel, al-Arabiya News Channel, MBC and PMP, which provides media services to many international televisions. 

Additionally, in the early morning, Israeli forces jammed the broadcasts of a number of local radio stations, and broadcast messages on the waves of these stations. Further to this, 4 local news websites were hacked by Israeli forces on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. 

It should be noted that Israeli forces have committed dozens of crimes against local and international journalists since 2000.  As a result of these crimes, 11 journalists, including two international ones, have been killed while carrying out their jobs reporting on crimes committed by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians, and dozens of other journalists have been wounded.

PCHR strongly condemns crimes committed by Israeli forces against journalists and media professionals, who enjoy special protection in time of war under the international humanitarian law.  PCHR calls upon the international community, in particular the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, to fulfill their obligations to ensure respect for the Convention, and to effectively intervene to prevent grave breaches of the Convention by Israel. 

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