Gazan journalists: A sad story and a ridiculous story
Some people seem to think that journalists are targeted by the IDF. Here are two stories about that. And some explanation about the situations in which they took place — a death, in one instance, and an injury, in the other.
The sad story – journalist killed in her home
Way back on October 10, just three days after the Hamas pogrom in southern Israel, WAFA, the Palestinian News and Info Agency, published an article they consider damning of Israel. The article states that Salam Meimah, her husband, and three children
. . . were the latest victims in the ongoing barbaric and indiscriminate Israeli bombardment on the Gaza Strip.
On Oct 13, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) confirmed that Salam was in her home when it was bombed by the IDF. We should note that the fact that she was in her home when she was killed means that she was not on assignment. While every innocent civilian killed is a tragedy, the fact that she works as a journalist does not make her death at home any more a journalist-targeted killing than a janitor killed asleep at home means that Israel is trying to kill off all Gazan janitors.\
We have no information from the IDF regarding why her building was bombed. IDF press releases from that time noted the assassinations of Hamas leaders Zachariah Abu Ma’amar on Oct 10, destruction of the Islamic University which was used for training military intelligence agents, developing arms, and raising funds for Hamas on Oct 11, and assassination of Muhammad Abu Shamla and Nukba forces command centers on Oct 12. This means that there were air strikes in Gaza at least from Oct 10. But why was she at home? The IDF warns civilians to leave buildings that are legitimate military targets and one would assume hers was one such building. The first time the news reports discuss evacuations of civilians from northern Gaza to the south appeared on Oct 13.
Is it possible that Salam and other civilians were unaware that they should leave their homes? If that were so, then this would be a serious deviation of the IDF from its recognized general operation procedures, and a war crime.
However, the following update, provided by Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, former International IDF Spokesperson, provides more information: At 4:15 minutes, Conricus says that, for the last 7-10 hours (likely meaning Oct 8 or early Oct 9), the IDF has been attacking Hamas targets in Gaza, including bunkers, command positions, launching sites, hiding places, etc. and at 5:09 minutes, he says that they made announcements in Arabic telling civilians in certain areas to get out because there are military targets in the region.
War with Gaza—62 hours later. Join LTC (Res.) Jonathan Conricus LIVE for an operational update: https://t.co/l9m3slManO
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) October 9, 2023
The fact that Salam and her family did not leave means that they took their lives into their own hands and have nobody to blame but themselves. In multiple updates to the press, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari has said exactly that — if you do not leave after the IDF has warned you to vacate the area, you alone are responsible for the consequences. Salam Meimeh is not the only journalist on the list of Gazan casualties to fall into this category.
In fact, as of Oct 16, journalist Hashem Al-Saudi and his family only moved from one part of Gaza City to another and not to the south inspite of the fact that “the IDF told civilians to evacuate” the entire city.
A clear example of targeting journalists
In March 2023, one journalist was killed and 16 injured when a press event marking National Journalists Day in Afghanistan was bombed. THAT is a journalist-targeted attack and Islamic State claimed responsibility, saying it set out to kill journalists who worked against it.
Israel is targeting Hamas fighters, administrators, supporters, and if one happens to also be a journalist, that fact will not protect him or her.
In the following “X” post, we see a man who is clearly identified as a medic. He crosses the road after a terrorist has been shot dead and apparently IDF soldiers are still there, continuing to shoot. The medic, whose vest protects him from IDF gunfire, crosses the street, retrieves the gun from the dead terrorists and hands it off to a live terrorist.
This takes place in the West Bank, but it could just as easily have been in Gaza. The only question to ask is — can this medic legitimately claim to be an innocent non-combattant? And, if he was a journalist wearing a press jacket, could one say the same?
— Jovian (@fuky0rign0rance) November 12, 2023
I have read in a number of places that Gazan journalists say they do not wear their press jackets as it is more dangerous to do so because Israel wants to eliminate the press corps in Gaza.
A ridiculous story
I found reference to this situation in an Honest Reporter exposé and explored it more myself: Gazan photojournalist Ashraf Amra was taken by his news agency to Turkey for medical attention after his arm was severely injured by the IDF when he was on assignment in Gaza. Remember, several journalists have said it is more dangerous to wear a press jacket that not to — in this article, he clearly states:
The Israeli soldiers opened intense fire on the Palestinians and deliberately targeted the journalists at the scene, Amra told Anadolu at the airport.
“I was one of the journalists who wore the uniform that stated ‘Press’. What we document and photograph is clearly visible through the cameras. However, Israeli soldiers threw explosives directly at me, while I was holding the camera in my hand,” he said.
Now look at the video of the event, uploaded onto the news agency’s “X” account:
❝İsrail askerleri, kamerayı tuttuğum elime, doğrudan üzerime patlayıcı attı❞
İsrail askerlerinin gazetecileri kasten hedef alan saldırısında elinden vurulan AA için serbest çalışan foto muhabiri Eşref Abu Amra tedavi için İstanbul’a geldi https://t.co/n2bmUDVV52 pic.twitter.com/19R7ecAeCV
— Anadolu Ajansı (@anadoluajansi) September 18, 2023
For your convenience, I have taken a screenshot of the moment whereby in one frame, we see the patched-up injured journalist on his way back to Gaza, interviewed at the airport about his experience, and in the other frame an image of him in the field where he was injured. From about 0.42 minutes he talks clearly about being with a group of journalists and says he was wearing a uniform with “press” written on it (at 0.48 minutes). For the rest of the video, we can see that he clearly was NOT wearing anything declaring he was a journalist. (I can only marvel at the low level of professionalism exhibited by the social media expert who uploaded this video with such an obvious lie without trying to cover it up in any way.)
But then one musst question the integrity (don’t laugh) of journalists who say it is more dangerous for them to wear a press jacket because the IDF targets journalists only to complain that the IDF targets them when they are NOT wearing a press jacket but the IDF should have known, in this case, that he was a journalist because he was carrying a large camera. Pardon my lack of eloquence, but all I can say to this is “OY!”
Feature Image is a screenshot from the video in the last “X” post in this article.