Israeli Defense Force admits to targeting media center in Gaza City airstrike

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has admitted that in an airstrike, they targeted an office building housing offices for international media in Gaza City on Sunday night. The IDF called their specific targets "Hamas operational communication sites". The IDF also claims Hamas staged a scene outside the building to make it appear an injured man was being taken away in an ambulance, who was "seen minutes later walking around."

Badge of the Israel Defense Forces

"Overnight, the IDF targeted two Hamas operational communication sites that were identified by precise intelligence. The first site was targeted at approximately 01:40 a.m. and was an infrastructure of Hamas' operational communications, located inside a civilian building," said the IDF in a statement on its website.

Reuters reports eight journalists were injured in the attack with one journalist needing a leg amputated.

The IDF also admits they knew international journalists had offices in the building and targeted it because "Hamas' operational communications [were] deliberately located on the roof of the building, in which several international media bureaus reside."

"We obviously knew there were journalists in the building, so we did not attack other floors in the building", said Avital Leibovich, a spokesperson for the IDF. Sky News, RT News, Ma’an news agency, and al-Quds TV, among other agencies, all have offices located in the building.

Though the IDF admits they knew international journalists were inside the building, a spokesperson denies they were the target saying, "Hamas took a civilian building and used it for its own needs. So the journalists ... were serving as human shields for Hamas". The IDF statement goes on to say that journalists were warned to "stay clear of Hamas' bases and facilities."

The building was reportedly bombed three times. After the IDF bombed the building once, there was a pause during which occupants evacuated before the IDF bombed it two more times.

According to Protocol 1, Article 79 of the Geneva Convention, targeting journalists or civilians is considered a war crime. "Journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians.... They shall be protected as such under the Conventions and this Protocol, provided that they take no action adversely affecting their status as civilians, and without prejudice to the right of war correspondents accredited to the armed forces".