Beirut, February 4, 2019 -- Lebanese authorities should do their utmost to identify and punish those responsible for the February 2 hand grenade attack on independent broadcaster Al-Jadeed TV and ensure the safety of journalists operating in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
In the early hours of February 2, unknown assailants in a car threw a hand grenade at Al-Jadeed TV's headquarters in Beirut and immediately fled the scene, according to video shared by the broadcaster. No one was harmed in the blast, which damaged the headquarters' entrance and a nearby car, according to news reports.
"Those who perpetrated this attack on Al-Jadeed TV's Beirut office should be swiftly held to account to show that attacks on media will not be tolerated in Lebanon," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. "Lebanese authorities should take steps to ensure the safety of journalists regardless of the outlet they work for and their political or religious affiliation."
Ibrahim Halabi, director of employee affairs at Al-Jadeed TV, was cited by the Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom as saying that Lebanese security forces have opened an investigation into the attack.
CPJ reached out to Halabi via social media and the Lebanese General Security directorate via email for comment but did not immediately receive any response.
According to a report by Al-Jadeed TV, a several men gathered in front of the broadcaster's office a few hours before the attack to protest an episode of the comedy show "Qadh and Jam," which was broadcasted on January 31.
Druze employees of Al-Jadeed TV had received anonymous threats following the broadcast of the episode, which allegedly caricatured the Druze clergy, according to independent news website Lebanon Debate.
This is not the first attack on Al-Jadeed TV's Beirut headquarters. In February 2017, a crowd of 300 attacked the office in response to a political satire show, as CPJ covered at the time. In July 2016, unknown assailants shot at the office, according to news reports.