Lebanese journalist killed, TV transmitters hit

New York, July 24, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the killing of a freelance photographer and a media technician during separate Israeli missile attacks in Lebanon.

Layal Najib, 23, a freelance photographer for the Lebanese magazine Al-Jaras and Agence France-Presse, became the first journalist to be killed since Israel began attacks on Lebanon in response to a cross-border raid by the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah. Najib was in a taxi yesterday trying to meet up with a convoy of villagers fleeing the Israeli bombardment of south Lebanon when she was hit by shrapnel from a missile on the road between the villages of Sadiqeen and Qana, local media reported. She died at the scene.

On July 22, Suleiman al-Chidiac, a technician for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) was killed during Israeli air attacks on television transmitters and telephone towers in north Lebanon, well away from the fighting in the south, CPJ sources and The Associated Press reported. Al-Chidiac was the head of LBC’s transmission facility at Fatqa, 10 miles (16 kilometers) northeast of Beirut, which was destroyed.

On the same day, Israeli warplanes struck towers in Terbol, near Tripoli in north Lebanon, belonging to the state-run channel Tele-Liban, Future TV and Hezbollah’s own channel, Al-Manar TV, as well as cellular telephone network towers, The Associated Press and local media reported.

In al-Qura, also in the north, a technician for Tele-Liban, Khaled Eid, was seriously injured in an attack on a telecommunications tower belonging to the station. Terrestrial transmission by all these stations was interrupted but they remained on the air via satellite.

“We are gravely concerned by the killings of our colleagues Layal Najib and Suleiman al-Chidiac,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “The aerial bombardment of Lebanon by Israel has caused tremendous hardship to civilians, including journalists who are covering the humanitarian crisis. We are alarmed by the air attacks on television transmission and telecommunication facilities. These strikes have already cost the life of one television technician and wounded another. We have seen no evidence that these media outlets are serving any military function and therefore call on Israel to cease targeting media facilities in Lebanon immediately.”