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Israel urged to stop airstrikes against media

Nov. 20, 2012 5:23 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 21, 2012 10:58 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities must immediately halt airstrikes targeting news media offices in the Gaza Strip, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

"Israel should respect its obligations under international law and immediately halt its attacks against news media offices," said CPJ's Sherif Mansour, in a statement.

"Authorities know these buildings are home to numerous news organizations whose employees are civilians protected by international law," Mansour said.

The statement followed a series of strikes against media buildings in Gaza.

On Monday Israeli warplanes fired missiles at a media building in Gaza City, injuring two journalists – Al Arabiya cameraman Ahmed al-Ridi and Ahmed al-Achkar of Houna Al-Quds TV.

The attack came a day after Israel targeted two media buildings -- including one which houses Ma'an's Gaza office -- injuring six journalists.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the latest target was Ramez Harb, head of media for the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, who was killed in the airstrike.

Regev maintained that the army could not treat Al-Aqsa TV employees as “legitimate journalists” like BBC or Al Jazeera employees.

Reporters Without Borders meanwhile condemned Israel's attacks on the news media and dismissed Regev's explanations.

“Attacks on civilian targets are war crimes and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions,” secretary Christophe Deloire said. “Those responsible must be identified.”

Since Israel's assault began Wednesday, its forces have also interfered with radio and local television stations, according to Mada, a Palestinian press freedom group.

Rabah Marzouk, head of Quds Radio in Gaza, said Israel took control of its airwaves on the second day of the assault and the broadcasted information to the people in Gaza "warning them not to cooperate with the Palestinian resistance".

Mada says the frequencies of other stations have also been seized, including Al-Aqsa Radio.

The group said in a statement that it "renews its condemnation of the increasing number of attacks on journalists, which constitute a flagrant violation of international laws and conventions".

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