New York, May 18, 2021 – Israeli forces must immediately stop bombing the offices of media outlets in Gaza and do their utmost to protect all members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday, Israeli warplanes bombed and damaged a Gaza City office building housing the office of the Nawa Online Women Media Network, a news website affiliated with the women’s rights and youth organization Filastiniyat, according to a Facebook post by the outlet and a report by the Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, a regional press freedom group.
Israeli forces did not send any prior warning of the bombing, which killed two civilians identified as “a man and his daughter,” the outlet wrote in its Facebook post. Last week, Israel bombed three buildings housing at least 17 local and international media outlets in Gaza City, including Al-Jazeera and The Associated Press.
Separately, today, Israeli forces in East Jerusalem assaulted Latifeh Abdellatif, a Palestinian reporter for the news website Middle East Eye, while she was filming those forces making arrests, according to her employer and footage of the incident posted on social media.
“In less than a week, Israel has bombed the offices of at least 18 media outlets, and it’s difficult to reach any conclusion other than that the Israeli military wants to shut down news coverage of the suffering in Gaza,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Israel must stop bombing the offices of news outlets and step up efforts to ensure that local and international journalists can work safely and freely.”
Wafa Abdel-Rahman, editor-in-chief of the Nawa Online Women Media Network, told Skeyes that the outlet’s employees were unable to reach the remains of the office because of the damage inflicted in the bombing.
“According to the testimony of the building’s security guard, who survived miraculously, no prior warning was given and the building was bombed at 6 p.m.,” Abdel-Rahman said.
Today in Jerusalem, Abdellatif was covering a protest at the Old City’s Damascus Gate when she saw Israeli forces detaining a child and his father, and other Palestinians trying to free them, according to her employer’s report and the footage of her assault. As she attempted to film the arrest, Israeli security officers shoved her, hit her in the knee with a baton, and pulled down her headscarf, despite Abdellatif identifying herself as a member of the press, according to those sources.
Middle East Eye did not immediately respond to an email from CPJ inquiring about the extent of the journalist’s injuries.
Separately, last week, Mohammad al-Louh, a reporter for the Fatah-affiliated radio station Al-Shabab Radio, and Elias Karram, a correspondent for the Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera, were each injured while reporting.
Al-Louh told Skeyes that he was covering the destruction of a home in the Gaza City neighborhood of Tel Hawa on May 11 when an Israeli warplane dropped a bomb nearby.
Shrapnel from the bomb penetrated al-Louh’s right leg, fractured his rib, and bruised him; he was taken to Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital for treatment, according to the journalist’s posts and pictures on Facebook, and a statement by Palestinian press freedom group MADA.
“The bombing caught me by surprise, because there was no warning,” he told Skeyes.
On May 13, a rocket fired from Gaza exploded near Karram while he was reporting near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, according to Skeyes and Al-Jazeera footage that Karram shared on his Facebook account. The rocket knocked Karram to the ground, resulting in bruising on his left knee, according to those sources.
Those Al-Jazeera reports show that Karram was treated at the scene and was not seriously injured.
CPJ is also investigating Israeli forces’ bombing yesterday of a Gaza City apartment building that housed Mashareq, an advertising and media production company.
The outlet’s website is currently down and CPJ was unable to determine whether the company produced journalistic content; on its Facebook page, it has published videos including a public service announcement covering China’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and a promotional video for a local human rights group.
In a video posted on Facebook by Mashareq, a missile can be seen hitting the company’s office building and causing it to collapse immediately. Hazem Abu Hamid, director of the audio production team at Mashareq, told Skeyes that no one had been notified of the attack in advance.
“We didn’t expect the bombing because we are a media and civilian company. There was nobody in the building, but we lost all the equipment, including computers, printers, and the filming equipment, not to mention that all 60 employees of the company are now unemployed,” Abu Hamid said.
CPJ emailed the Israel Defense Forces’ North America desk and the Hamas information office for comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.