Reporters Without Borders is concerned about several incidents affecting the news media since Israel began its air strikes on the Gaza Strip on 27 December, including the bombing of the headquarters of the Hamas TV station Al-Aqsa TV, as well as Israel’s ban on all international news media entering the territory.
Al-Aqsa TV’s five-storey headquarters in Gaza City was completely destroyed when it was bombed by the Israeli air force on 28 December. Several people were injured but no deaths were reported in the bombing. The station has managed to continue broadcasting.
Reporters Without Borders condemned the bombing of Al-Aqsa TV as a “flagrant violation of humanitarian law” in a letter today to Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak. “The television station’s use as a propaganda outlet by Hamas does not make it a legitimate military target,” the letter said.
“If the State of Israel openly legitimises military attacks on news media, even propaganda media, this should be clearly and officially expressed and established by the civilian authorities so that everyone knows that they dispute that international humanitarian law applies to the conflicts in which they are involved,” the letter added.
Reporters Without Borders also deplores Israel’s decision to deny the international media access to the Gaza Strip by declaring it a “closed military zone.” Closed since November, the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip was reopened for a few hours before the start of the offensive only to be closed again.
Reporters Without Borders has also learned that three so far unidentified journalists were injured in the bombardment of the Hamas police headquarters on the first day of the offensive.