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Palestinian journalists protest attacks on media offices

Nov. 19, 2012 6:03 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 19, 2012 4:38 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian journalists staged a sit-in Sunday in Ramallah protesting Israel's attacks on two media offices in the Gaza Strip that injured at least six journalists.

Protestors raised posters condemning attacks on media and asserting that Palestinian journalists will continue to do their jobs no matter how fiercely Israel's attacks them.

The head of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Abdul-Nasser al-Najjar, called the attacks on two media building "part of the ongoing Israeli assaults on journalists."

The shelling, he added, is a proof that the occupation does not care at all about human rights, and is doing its best to prevent journalists from doing their jobs.

The Palestinian Authority's information ministry also condemned the attacks.

The Israeli military said the attacks were pinpoint strikes on Hamas communication devices located on the buildings' roofs, and accused Hamas of using reporters as "human shields" to try and protect their operations.

One of the targeted buildings, the al-Shawa tower, houses Ma'an's Gaza office. There is no military infrastructure of any kind inside the building.

The Foreign Press Association issued a statement in which it expressed concern over the bombings and quoted a UN Security Council resolution that condemned attacks against journalists.

Israeli military spokeswoman Avital Leibovich denied that journalists were the target of the strike.

"Hamas took a civilian building and used it for its own needs. So the journalists ... were serving as human shields for Hamas," she said.

The military added that in order to avoid worse casualties, it had refrained from firing at an Hamas operations room which it said was located inside one of the buildings.

Palestinian Authority government spokeswoman Nour Odeh said the attacks were "a clear message against the freedom of journalism and opinions".

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights condemned the raid and said that "Israeli forces jammed the broadcasts of a number of local radio stations."

In a 2008-2009 war Israel attacked one of the same buildings that was blasted on Sunday, again accusing Hamas of operating out of the tower block.
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