The Gaza Project reveals how Israel has targeted the press – in 3 stories

The Gaza Project reveals how Israel has targeted the press – in 3 stories

Does the Israeli government target members of the press? In a massive collaborative effort, journalists and specialists pieced together evidence that answer this question with a resounding Yes.

Since the outbreak of Israel’s war in Gaza following Hamas’ attack on October 7, more than 100 journalists and media workers have been killed. 
For the Gaza Project, 50 journalists from 13 different news organizations worked together to investigate the killing of journalists in Gaza and the alleged threats, targeting arrests made in the West Bank.
From targeted attacks to the destruction of infrastructure known to host media outlets, the Gaza Project reveals a damning array of evidence against the Israeli government and calls into question their army’s denials about targeting the press since the war began.
Below are excerpts from three of their most recent reports, with links to read them in full.

Anatomy of a Shooting: How the Israeli Forces targeted an Al Araby TV Crew in the West Bank

by Sofía Álvarez Jurado and Youssr Youssef, excerpt reposted from Forbidden Stories: The Gaza Project, June 25, 2024

Ameed Shehade can still hear the sound of the bullet grazing past his head. The Al Araby TV correspondent and his cameraman, Rabi Al-Munayer, found themselves under Israeli forces fire while on assignment on a gently sloping hill, offering clear visibility. Their unmistakable identification as journalists – press vests, helmets, tripods, camera and microphone – wasn’t enough to protect them.

The journalist received at least three bullets that were fired in their direction, two of which struck their camera. According to Shehade, the camera was positioned approximately half a meter from him, and no more than 30 centimeters away from Al-Munayer.

“This is a message they are sending to us,” Shehade told Forbidden Stories, slipping out of the confident voice he uses on TV. His interpretation of the incident comes from 14 years of experience working as a reporter in the occupied West Bank.

“Please record what I say in case anything bad happens,” he said. “We as reporters who are working in the West Bank feel now more than ever that we could go for a report and never come back.”

In the early hours of May 4, Shehade and Al-Munayer headed to Deir al-Ghusun, northeast of the city of Tulkarm, in Palestine’s occupied West Bank, to cover an Israeli raid that had been ongoing over 12 hours. According to the Israel Police Spokesperson’s Unit, the operation involved counterterrorism forces from the Israel Police, IDF, and Shin Bet, guided by intelligence from the Shin Bet and the Military Intelligence Directorate (AMAN), aiming to “thwart a terrorist cell.”

Israeli forces leveled with a bulldozer a two-story house allegedly belonging to members of Hamas –designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, and Israel in particular. Five Palestinians had been killed overnight, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry and the Israeli forces; Hamas confirmed that four of them were members of its al-Qassam armed wing.

According to six journalists present on the ground that day – along with Shehade and Al-Munayer – who spoke to Forbidden Stories and its partners, there was no military activity, upheaval, or even stone throwing in their immediate vicinity. The closest fighting would have taken place around the targeted house, approximately 290 meters away from them.

Upon arrival, the crew set up on top of a nearby hill for a better view of the events at the house, they told the consortium.

According to Shehade, the soldiers were aware of their presence as reporters; they were clearly identified as such and didn’t change location between the time they arrived on the hill, at approximately 8 a.m., and the moment of the shooting, at 10:30 a.m., (Forbidden Stories was able to extract the metadata from a picture taken at 9:28 AM, where both journalists can be seen in the same location and wearing press vests.)…[more]

Death from Above: How Israeli Drones Are Killing Journalists in Gaza

By Mariana Abreu, reposted from Forbidden Stories: The Gaza Project

On the afternoon of January 22, four journalists climbed a small hill in Tal Al-Zaatar, in northern Gaza. Anas Al-Sharif, Mahmoud Shalha, Emad Ghaboun and Mahmoud Sabbah – some of the few remaining journalists in the region – had been reporting on the famine that has gripped Gaza since the Israeli offensive began last fall, following Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attacks on Israeli soil. They were searching for an internet signal to transmit videos to their editors when a blast knocked the group to the ground.

In a cloud of smoke, Al-Sharif, who was wearing a press vest and suffered minor injuries to his back, bolted toward his colleagues, now lying in the blood-stained rubble. Ghaboun had to be carried to a nearby hospital in the scoop of a bulldozer. (A civilian lost his life in the same attack.)

Journalists present said they recall a “surveillance drone” targeting them; although we were unable to obtain real-time footage of the strike, a video Al-Sharif took in the aftermath of the attack, which was analyzed by experts, corroborates the presence of a drone.

For four months, a team of 50 journalists coordinated by Forbidden Stories investigated the wounding and killing by Israeli forces of more than 100 media personnel in Gaza. While the Israeli military claims that it doesn’t deliberately target journalists, our findings suggest that at least 18 media workers were reportedly killed or wounded by precision strikes likely launched from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), in violation of the laws of war. Four were wearing press vests and were identifiable as journalists. Tal Al-Zaatar is just one case in what appears to be part of a pattern.

Under international humanitarian law, armies must distinguish between combatants and noncombatants, and direct attacks only at military targets. Intentionally targeting civilians, including reporters, is a war crime. Even if a military objective is legitimate, the attack must not cause excessive civilian casualties, injuries, or damage out of proportion with the expected military gain.

Drones, experts agree, have the technological capabilities to minimize casualties. During an 11-day Israeli military campaign against Hamas in 2021, for example, UAVs enabled “real-time cancellation” of air strikes that endangered civilian lives, according to an analysis published by Israeli military researcher Dr. Liran Antebi in 2022. The current pattern, therefore, raises a central question: how could so many journalists be killed by UAVs?

Drones carry smaller explosives than fighter jets and can hit a target surgically, “within a foot of wherever we’re shining our laser,” Brandon Bryant, a former U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant said. “You can take a look around, check there are no civilians nearby … and avoid the backlash that comes with blowing up too many civilians,” a French drone expert, who asked to remain anonymous, told Forbidden Stories.

Still, that day in Tal Al-Zaatar, something detonated “in the middle of our group,” Al-Sharif said. Analyzing the footage for Forbidden Stories, Bryant concluded the distinctive buzzing sound in Al-Sharif’s video is “definitely a drone. I’ll never forget that sound.”

More precisely, he said, it’s a “prop engine, low flying, slow-moving” vehicle. Bryant’s assessment was backed by a German drone and defense researcher, who spoke to the consortium anonymously. “The sound in the background does resemble the one made by UAVs using piston engines, or turboprops.”

Forbidden Stories worked with audio research agency Earshot to conduct forensic audio analyses of videos collected by the consortium; our findings indicate that the Israeli military currently uses both turboprop and piston engine drones in Gaza for reconnaissance and strikes…[more]

The destruction of press infrastructure in Gaza: A strategy to blind the public

by Léa Peruchon, excerpt reposted from Forbidden Stories: The Gaza Project

It was 2 a.m. on October 10, 2023, when Adel Zaanoun, a journalist with Agence France-Presse (AFP), made a worried call to his superiors. The AFP team had just received an order from the Israeli military to evacuate its offices in the Hajji Tower at the heart of Gaza City, a sign that the building might be bombed.

Only a few hours earlier, AFP Chairman and CEO Fabrice Fries had shared the address of the building with the Israeli military spokesman in a letter, in order to avoid any possible targeting.

“Should we evacuate or remain in the building?” Zaanoun asked Marc Jourdier, AFP’s Jerusalem bureau chief, on the other end of the line. “Don’t waste a minute – evacuate,” Jourdier responded. “I’ll call the army and get back to you as soon as possible.”

In the end, the building was spared that day, but an Israeli strike a few hundred meters away killed three Palestinian journalists who had come to cover the expected attack. The Israeli military called Marc Jourdier back later that night to say that the premises were now classified as “not to be targeted.”

This is not the first time journalists have been ordered to evacuate their offices in Gaza due to the threat of Israeli bombing, Carlos Martinez de la Serna, program director at the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in an interview. “The Israeli military has a history of attacks on media structures,” he explained. In May 2021, a tower housing the Qatari media organization Al Jazeera and the American news agency The Associated Press (AP) was destroyed by three missiles, on the basis, the Israeli military claimed, of an imminent threat posed by Hamas’s presence in the building. When questioned publicly, Israel provided no evidence to support this claim.

Since October 7, 2023, the phenomenon has taken on unprecedented proportions. In response to the Hamas terrorist attack on Israeli soil, the Israeli military has relentlessly bombarded the Gaza Strip, a 365-square-kilometer territory barely larger than Malta. News coverage in the Gaza Strip has become extremely limited.

“When you look at the conflicts around the world … you would usually have the international media on the ground,” said Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. “None of them have been allowed access. Or they’re embedded within the IDF”…[more]


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