Sunday, November 18, 2012

18-Nov-12: When war journalists are injured, there are at least two different explanations

The lobby of the luxurious Alderia Hotel in Gaza City from where
brand-name reporters representing the Guardian, the New York Times
and others, are based at this moment [Image Source: Aldeira hotel website]
Foreign journalists have been injured in Gaza during the current fighting there. One view, widely propagated, is this is what the Israeli side wants. Another view is this is the natural consequence of Hamas placing its weapons systems, and especially Israel-facing rockets, deep inside residential neighbourhoods, mosques, hospitals, apartment buildings, office buildings and so on.

On the other hand, all sides evidently share the view that the luxurious Aldeira hotel (not everyone seems to know such places exist in Gaza) where the foreign journalists are based is safe ground. So how clear is it that Israel is out to get them? And how deep is the trust that foreign journalists evidently have in the accuracy and reliability of IDF targeting? Evidently quite deep.

AFP knows about the injuries. It just doesn't know why the reporters got hurt.

Israel bombards Gaza Strip: media building hit in air strike   
[Source: AFP] November 18, 2012 - 4:53PM
Fresh Israeli air strikes on Sunday hit a Gaza City media centre and homes in northern Gaza as the death toll mounted, despite suggestions from Morsi about the ceasefire. "At least six journalists were wounded, with minor and moderate injuries, when Israeli warplanes hit the al-Quds TV office in the Showa and Housari building in the Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza City," Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.
AP talks to the reporters inside the damaged Gazan buildings. It accepts without question - perhaps out of professional courtesy - their view that this is a deliberate effort by Israel to distort the news.

Israel attacks Hamas media operations in Gaza   
[Source: AP]
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Israeli military widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory’s Hamas rulers, sending its aircraft to attack two buildings used by both Hamas and foreign media outlets... Bassem Madhoun, an employee of Dubai TV, said two missiles hit the 15th floor of the building where Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV studio is located. Rescue workers evacuated several people who had been wounded. Building windows were blown out and glass shards and debris were scattered on the street below. Some of the journalists who had been inside the building at the time were taking cover in the entrance hallway. Mohammed Shrafi, a Palestinian cameraman, said he was in the street filming when he was hit by shrapnel coming down from the building. Asked why Israel was targeting media centers, he replied, “they want to keep us from telling the truth.”
The Daily Mail  one of the farthest-reaching voices on the web, lets us hear how Hamas operate, but unfortunately draws no inference from this first-person testimony.

Hunted by drones, dodging rockets and tank shells: An ordinary family's nightmare trapped inside Gaza's dead zone     
[Source: Daily Mail UK] PUBLISHED:01:12 GMT, 18 November 2012| UPDATED: 01:12 GMT, 18 November 2012
Ahmed Abu Hamda is a 42-year-old radio producer in beleaguered Gaza City, where he lives with his wife Suha and sons Mostafa, three, and Mohammad, two. Here he tells how life there has become a nightmare for him and his family.
"Since Wednesday, they have moved eastwards into the heart of Gaza City. The first indication that the fighters have taken up position near your house is the whoosh of a rocket as it roars past your window, often followed just seconds later by the ground-shaking impact of an Israeli counter-strike. Even if you manage to stay away from the obvious targets – the Hamas security compounds, weapons stores, arms manufacturing workshops and rocket-launchers – the violence can follow you."
The New York Times' Jody Rudoren, evidently in Gaza against her will, knows about the roar of explosives close by, but not about the Hamas rocket emplacements in the neighbourhood.

Jody Rudoren's Facebook Page
[Source] Worst night yet in terms of being awoken by shelling. Three separate times, some seeming quite close -- not in the sense that I'm worried about the hotel being hit, just in terms of level of noise, etc. One assault apparently was on a building where local journalists work. There have also been reports that Hamas is not allowing foreign journalists to leave; several colleagues are planning to try to cross this morning, so I'll let you know. Not an issue for me: my editors aren't letting me leave!
She also filed this report for today's New York Times

Israel Bombs Government and Media Sites in Wider Attack
[Source: New York Times]
Among the buildings Israel hit overnight were two containing the offices of local media outlets. A statement from the Israeli Defense Forces initially described one of its targets as “a communications facility used by Hamas to carry out terror activity against the state of Israel.” Within minutes, the I.D.F. recalled that statement and replaced it with one referring to “a communications antenna.”
Salama Marouf of the Hamas media office issued a statement condemning what he called an “immoral massacre against the media” and calling the attack a “confession” by Israel “that it has lost the media battle.” Six journalists were injured in the first attack, around 2:30 a.m., in the Shawa and Hossari Building in downtown Gaza City, which houses two local radio stations -- one run by the militant Islamic Jihad -- and the offices of the Ma’an Palestinian news agency as well as the German broadcaster ARD. One of the journalists injured on Sunday, Khader Zahar of the Beirut-based Al Quds satellite channel, lost a leg in the explosion, which hit its 11th-floor studio.
At 7 a.m., a missile dropped from an Apache helicopter hit the top of the 15-story Al Shoruq Building, also downtown, witnesses said. The target was the Hamas channel that broadcasts locally, Al Aqsa, but the building also contains offices of the Al Arabiya television network and the Middle East Broadcast Center which runs it, as well as the live studio position of the Iranian television station, and two production companies -- Gaza Media Center  and Mayadeen -- that provide services for Fox News, Sky News, CBS and Al Jazeera.
Nobody was injured in that attack. Witnesses said that everyone in the building fled after a warning missile was fired in the stairwell, two minutes before the attack on the roof.
It's disappointing that the "Beirut-based Al Quds satellite channel" gets mentioned in Jody's piece, but without pointing out who its owners and operators are: the terrorists of Hamas. Al Quds TV is quite notorious for children's educational programming that idealizes and glorifies suicide and murder... for children. A notable example of Al Quds' odious culture is the 2009 masterpiece "All Palestinians Suckle the Use of the Gun with Their Mother's Milk".

In the interests of context and professional background, we wish all the reporters now risking their lives in Gaza were made to watch the now legendary 2009 video clip [here] of Al-Arabiya correspondent Hanan Al-Masri [background here]. She hears an explosion, and is startled because she fears the Israelis are attacking. Then, not realizing she is being recorded, she uses her cell phone to check in with the local authorities who tell her it's a GRAD rocket, freshly launched on its path to anything Israeli. And it was fired from the basement of the Gazan building that houses her company's studio - the building from which she was reporting. Haaretz immortalized the moment in "Gaza reporter caught on tape confirming Hamas fired rockets near TV offices".

But that was way back in 2009 and now forgotten.

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