Journalists reporting in Gaza and Israel are being assaulted and killed as violence escalates in the region.
A Palestinian cameraman was killed in the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza City on July 20. Khaled Reyadh Hamad was accompanying Palestinian medics when shellfire hit an ambulance. The second hit was lethal for Hamad, who was working on a film about Palestinian medics in Gaza.
"It is tragic that a cameraman documenting the dangers faced by medics seeking to help civilians caught in this relentless fighting should himself be killed," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "Journalists in Gaza are not allowing themselves to be used as shields. They are trying to do their job. As such, they should be treated as civilians and afforded protection under international law."
On July 22, Al Jazeera reported that the network's office in Gaza was fired at by forces they allege were Israeli. "Two very precise shots were fired straight into our building," Al Jazeera's reporter Stefanie Dekker said. The incident caused a heated argument between Al Jazeera and the Israeli government. The Guardian reported that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused the network of lack of credibility and pro-Hamas stance.
"All the big networks operate in Israel, some of them are not exactly pro-Zionist, and yet as a democratic state we allow them to operate here," Lieberman said. "In the case of Al Jazeera it is not an issue of freedom of the media but of a terrorist wing that currently fights against Israel."
The statement issued by Al Jazeera called Lieberman's words a "direct threat" against the network and "appear to have been taken as a green light for the targeting of our journalists in Gaza. We hold the Israeli authorities fully responsible. They have put the lives of journalists in danger."
The statement also said that the network's journalists "have been doing an outstanding job in reporting to our mass audience in the region what is happening on the ground" and would continue to do so. "Journalism is not a crime," the statement concluded.
Huffington Post's Middle East correspondent Sophia Jones tweeted that the Israeli army is making journalists entering Gaza sign a waiver exonerating it from any responsibility for injury or death.
"I am aware that neither the MOD nor the IDF shall bear any liability whatsoever for damage or injury resulting from military operations in and around Gaza or otherwise caused to my person or property during, or as a result of, my presence in or entrance to Gaza," the waiver said, according to Huffington Post.
The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists reported that at least four journalists were injured last week amidst Israeli and Palestinian air strikes. Two buildings housing media outlets were allegedly targeted by Israeli airstrikes.
Kareem al-Tartouri, a cameraman for Moroccan Medi 1 TV and Muhammad Shabat from Palestinian Watania Media Agency were injured when shellfire hit the Al-Jawhara tower in Gaza City on July 18. Two days before, Sawt al-Watan radio station host Ahmad al-Ajala and correspondent Tariq Mandieh were briefly hospitalized after Israeli airstrike shelled the Daoud building in Gaza City. Another journalist sustained leg injury in Jerusalem on July 18. He reported about clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces for the local TV station Palestine Today.
On July 20 a BBC Arabic correspondent, wearing a vest clearly labelled Press, was attacked by an unidentified Israeli, The Washington Post reported.
Amidst journalists dying and being injured, the Israeli Government Press Office issued an "Advisory to Journalists Covering Operation Protective Edge from Gaza" blaming Hamas for using journalists as human shields and stating that "Israel is not in any way responsible for injury or damage that may occur as a result of field reporting."