Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to include Israeli air strikes on more than 20 media outlets in the Gaza Strip in her investigation into the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Targeted Israeli airforce attacks have destroyed the premises of 23 Palestinian and international media outlets in the past week. The latest airstrikes destroyed the bureaux of the US news agency, the Associated Press, and the Qatari TV broadcaster Al Jazeera. According to the Israeli military, these attacks were justified because the “military intelligence” wing of Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s ruling Islamist movement, had equipment in these building.
“Deliberately targeting media outlets constitutes a war crime,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “By intentionally destroying media outlets, the Israel Defence Forces are not only inflicting unacceptable material damage on news operations. They are also, more broadly, obstructing media coverage of a conflict that directly affects the civilian population. We call on the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor to determine whether these airstrikes constitute war crimes.”
The first Israeli attack on media outlets occurred four days ago, after Hamas fired a series of rockets into Israel. In the early hours of 12 May, Israeli airstrikes destroyed the Al-Jawhara Tower, a 10-storey building in Gaza City that housed 14 media outlets including the Palestine Daily News newspaper and the pan-Arab TV channel Al-Araby.
The next day, an Israeli airstrike destroyed Gaza City’s Al-Shorouk Tower, a 14-storey building that housed seven media outlets including the Al-Aqsa radio and TV broadcaster. The IDF said they were “striking Hamas weapons stores hidden inside civilian buildings in Gaza.”
Israel is ranked 86th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.