Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
التضامن الإيرلندي الفلسطيني

Call for fair reporting as Israel attacks journalists in Gaza

Reports from Gaza confirm that 92 people have died in Israeli strikes on Gaza since Israel breached ceasefire brokered by Egypt on Wednesday 14th November. Over 750 others have been injured in the bombardment from air, land and sea. 3 Israelis have died as a result of shelling from Gaza since 14th November.

In light of these figures the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign calls for fair and unbiased reporting of the situation.

On the night of Saturday 17th November the Israeli military assault targeted two buildings in Gaza City that housed international and Palestinian media outlets including both local Arab and international media agencies such as Al Arabiya, Al Quds TV, Sky News, France 24, and Russia TV. The attacks left at least eight journalists injured, one of whom had to have his leg amputated. Israeli army spokesperson Avital Leibovich admitted that they knew there were journalists in the building saying, “We obviously knew there were journalists in the building, so we did not attack other floors in the building. But my advice to journalists visiting Gaza is to stay away from any Hamas position, site or post for their own safety,” Article 79 of the Geneva Convention states that it is a war crime to target journalists. The assertion by Leibovich that journalists stay away from the conflict on which they are reporting shows contempt for both the public’s right to information and journalists’ duty to provide information.

Irish graduate of International Law at NUI Galway who is working with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, Gisela Schmidt Martin reported, “I attended a press conference outside the building, where journalists held up pieces of the shells and signs protesting the attack. As we climbed the stairs to view the destroyed office [above], we saw bloody footprints and broken glass on the steps. The scene was a surreal meeting of the mundane and the grotesque. Office chairs grey with dust, computers smashed to pieces, gaping holes in the roof and walls.”

As the timeline of events over the past week makes clear, the killing of a Palestinian minor on November 8 during an IDF incursion into Gaza initiated a round of escalation which was already drawing to a close on November 11 and 12, leading to formal reports from a number of Israeli, Palestinian and international sources that a new truce was in place on November 13. Israel then assassinated Hamas’ military chief Ahmed al-Jabari on November 14. On the morning of his death al-Jabari received a draft proposal for an extended ceasefire with Israel, including mechanisms that would verify intentions and ensure compliance. Other key Hamas leaders and members of the Shura Council, its senior decision-making body, supported a new ceasefire effort, and there was a chance for a mutually agreed ceasefire, but Israel very deliberately and knowingly sabotaged these efforts.

IPSC Spokesperson Freda Hughes said, “Israel is an occupying power in the region. As such it is under an obligation to take all necessary measures to protect the civilian population of the occupied territory. According to the rules of International Humanitarian Law, the Israeli military must at all times distinguish between civilian and military targets. In addition, Israel must adhere to the principle of proportionality, which states that any attack that may be expected to cause loss of civilian life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited.”

She continued: “In the four years since Operation Cast Lead, 270 Palestinians and 3 Israelis have lost their lives in exchanges of hostilities, according to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem. And there is the bigger picture: Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from Israel at its founding, and remain under military occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, while more than 30 laws systematically discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel. We call on our government, the international community and civil society to carry out a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. This is a peaceful and effective way to help bring about an end to this conflict”.

Ms Hughes concluded by saying that “the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign calls on people to take five simple steps to help end the Israeli attack on Gaza, from emailing politicians to boycotting Israeli products like diamonds and foodtsuffs. You can see the list at www.ipsc.ie/5simplesteps“.