As Israel announces the withdrawal of its troops from the Gaza Strip, Reporters Without Borders reports that 12 Palestinian journalists and one media worker have been killed since the start of Operation Protective Edge on 8 July, seven of them in connection with their work. This is the highest toll since Israel withdrew in 2005.
More than 1,800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 67 Israelis (including three civilians) have so far been killed in this operation, to which a political solution seems more distant by the day. “Whether these journalists and media workers were killed in indiscriminate air raids or were deliberately targeted, their deaths should be independently investigated and those responsible should be identified,” said Reporters Without Borders assistant research director Virginie Dangles. “Journalists should not be targeted by belligerents, who must respect the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols, as well as UN Security Council Resolution 1738, adopted in 2006.” The latest media victim is Hamada Khaled Makat, the head of the Saja News Agency, who was killed by an Israeli air strike in northern Gaza City. The Palestinian Journalists’ Union told Reporters Without Borders that Makat was killed outside his home at dawn after going out to cover the air strikes. Two Palestinian journalists died on 2 August as a result of Israeli air strikes. One was Mohamed Noureddin Al-Dairi, 26, a photographer with the Palestinian Network for Journalism and Media, who died from the injuries he received while covering an air raid on Shuja’iya market on 30 July. He was not pulled from the rubble until two days after the raid. The overall death toll from the raid on the Shuja’iya neighbourhood was 17 civilians, including three journalists. The other media fatality on 2 August was freelance journalist Shadi Hamdi Ayad, 24, who was killed in his home by an Israeli air strike on Al-Zaytoun, a neighbourhood in southeastern Gaza City. His father was also killed. Abdullah Nasr Fahjan, 21, a sports journalist with Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV, was killed on 1 August during an Israeli bombardment of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. His brother, Ahmed Fahjan, told the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), an NGO, that a drone targeted him while he was doing a report on Palestinians fleeing their homes in western Rafah after Israel announced that it was going to bomb them. He was initially taken with severe head injuries to Abu Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital, and from there to the European hospital in Khan Yunis, where he died a few hours later. Employees of Turkey’s Anatolia news agency came under stun grenade fire from tanks in the Al-Zana region east of Khan Yunis on 1 August while covering Palestinians returning home two hours after the start of ceasefire. Cars belonging to China’s Xinhua News Agency were damaged by Israeli bombardments. West Bank Reuters photographer Musa Al-Qawasm, 31, was injured while covering clashes in the Bab Al-Zawiya district of the West Bank city of Hebron on 2 August in which 50 people were reportedly injured. Qawasm told the Wattan news agency that Israeli soldiers deliberately targeted him although he was wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet marked “Press.” He was taken to the state hospital in Hebron for treatment. The Israeli authorities meanwhile continue to detain several Palestinian journalists in the West Bank, including reporter and activist Bushra Al-Tawil and Al-Aqsa TV cameraman Ahmed Al-Khatib, who have been held since early July. The Israeli authorities have just decided to hold Mohamed Muna, the Quds Press news agency’s Nablus correspondent, for another six months without trial. Arrested on 7 August 2013, he was placed in “administrative” detention by an Israeli military court. And meanwhile abroad... Hamutal Rogel Fuchs, the spokesman of the Israeli embassy in Spain, posted a Facebook entry on 1 August referring to Yolanda Álvarez, Spanish public TV broadcaster TVE’s Jerusalem correspondent, who is currently reporting from Gaza, as a pro-Hamas “activist.” Calling her a “transmission belt for Hamas messages, figures, images and information,” Fuchs said: “Yolanda Álvarez’s dramatic reports, including abuse of adjectives, casting and staging, and a selection of scenes serving Hamas’ interests, are nothing less than the product of an activist.” In a statement on 2 August, Macu de la Cruz, the vice-president of Reporters Without Borders Spain, said: “As well as being false, the embassy’s accusations against TVE’s correspondent are particularly grave because they put her in danger.” TVE’s editorial committee described her reporting as “extraordinary.”