Al-Quds TV cameraman Khader al-Zahhar after Israeli air strike on media building, Gaza, 18 November 2012. (Photo: Ali Hassan/Reuters)
Early this morning, just after dawn, the Israeli military targeted two media buildings in the Gaza Strip, injuring six journalists with one losing his leg in an amputation after the bombing. “We obviously know there are journalists in the building,” said IDF spokesperson Avital Leibovich hours later, confirming the Israeli military knowingly targeted news organizations in a military strike to destroy an antenna that was located on the roof of the building. Leibovich continued, “so we did not attack any other floor in the building, but my advice to journalist visiting Gaza is to stay away from any Hamas positions, or Hamas sites, or Hamas posts for their own safety.”
The BBC’s Middle East Bureau Chief, Paul Danahar, posted an excerpt of Leibovich’s address to the press here.
British independent filmmaker and activist based in Gaza, Harry Fear, also confirmed over Twitter today that media outlets were phoned this morning to flee from their offices. “Israel agents phone Gaza media threatening to flatten their buildings to the ground unless they evacuate,” said Fear on Twitter.
Located in Gaza City the offices included Sky News, al-Arabiya news network, Dubai TV al-Aqsa TV, Russia Today, and Lebanese, German and Italien news teams. Khader al-Zahhar, a cameraman for al-Quds TV was rushed to a hospital after the air strike.
A number of media organisations are based in the al-Shawa building, including al-Quds television, which is associated with Islamic Jihad. Khader al-Zahhar, a cameraman with al-Quds TV, had his leg amputated as a result of injuries sustained in the attack.
A second air strike struck another media complex in the city, the al-Shuruq building. It houses Sky News, the al-Arabiya news network, Dubai TV and an office of al-Aqsa TV, which is affiliated with Hamas.
Sky News reporter Sam Kiley was sleeping in the offices when the missile struck shortly before 7am. ‘The missile hit the floor above us. There was a big flash of light and the sound of breaking glass.’
The IDF spoke publicly for the first time today about the strike on the media offices over social media, tweeting “Roofs of the two buildings targeted tonight, were used by Hamas to place their electronic and communication infrastructure.” Throughout the five-day assault on the Gaza Strip Israeli military officials have repeatedly utilized social media to explain what targets they have hit in what appears to be an attempt to build a discourse on the “precision” of their weaponry. But the @IDFSpokesperson’s Tweets this morning signify a change in messaging, in which the military divulged they knowingly attacked civilians. “Hamas comms center, which was in civilian building. IDF only targeted devices on roof & left Hamas offices on 8th floor untouched.”