Monday, November 19, 2012

Will media groups condemn Islamic Jihad for using them as human shields?

From AFP:
A senior Islamic Jihad militant was killed on Monday in an Israeli strike on a Gaza City building housing Palestinian and international media, the Islamist faction told AFP.

Israel confirmed the attack, with its intelligence services saying the strike had targeted "senior Islamic Jihad officials" who were on the premises.

It was the second time in as many days that Israel had fired on the Shuruq Tower in the city's upscale Rimal neighbourhood which is used by media outlets including Britain's Sky News, the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network, Russia Today and Iran's Press TV.

Smoke was seen billowing from the lower floors of the tower, also used by Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV whose offices were destroyed in the first strike on Sunday morning, officials said.

"One Palestinian was killed and three others injured in a strike on the Shuruq Tower," an ambulance services statement said.

Islamic Jihad sources named him as Ramez Harb and said he was a senior commander in its armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades.

"One person was killed and lots of people were injured. Now there's a fire on the second, third and four floors," Saed Swerky, Russia Today's Gaza correspondent told AFP by phone just after the attack.

"The Israelis warned the foreigners to leave this building yesterday because they were going to attack it again," he said, speaking from inside the building.
The IDF had identified four Islamic Jihad leaders in the media building.

After yesterday's attack, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)issued a strong condemnation to Israel:
Reporters Without Borders condemns Israeli air strikes targeting news organizations in Gaza City today and calls for an immediate end to such attacks. At least nine journalists were reportedly injured and several local and international media were prevented from operating.

“These attacks constitute obstruction of freedom of information,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “We remind the Israeli authorities that, under humanitarian law, the news media enjoy the same protection as civilians and cannot be regarded as military targets.

“Even if the targeted media support Hamas, this does not in any way legitimize the attacks. We call for a transparent investigation into the circumstances of these air strikes. Attacks on civilian targets are war crimes and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions. Those responsible must be identified.”
Now that we know that the existence of senior Islamic Jihad officials in that same building, who were clearly using the international media presence as a shield for their own operations, will RSF modify its condemnation? After all, we now see that Israel behaved exactly as they are supposed to under international law: they identified a legitimate target, and warned the civilians to get out of the way so they could attack.

Moreover, will RSF issue an equally strong condemnation of Islamic Jihad for treating journalists as human shields?

Not that this is the first time in this conflict that reporters were used in that way. A very interesting video compilation shows reporters noting rocket firings very close to where they were reporting, meaning that the terrorists were banking on the reporters shielding them from reprisals:

As well as tweets indicating the same thing, see here for many.

So now that we know that terror groups use reporters for immunity from attack, will RSF and Israel's Foreign Press Association condemn them within the next couple of hours?

One other point: Al-Aqsa Television, one of the targets yesterday, is designated as a terror organization by the US.

(last point h/t CHA)