Gaza Brings Up Two Questions: When Are Journalists Legitimate Military Targets? – & Are Any Israel vs Nazi Comparisons Apt?
I. Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev is one or the smoothest operators out there among world-class apparatchiks. Like Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson for the press, Avital Leibovich, he is unperturbed when being asked vexing questions about the dubious morality of Israeli military policy. Early in the weekend, Leibovich was questioned by RT TV about the bombing of a building in Gaza City which housed offices, equipment and reporters for several news agencies. She claimed it was impossible to avoid hurting journalists, because Hamas was using them as “human shields.”
Now the Israelis have again attacked a building housing news gatherers:
After a second Israeli attack on a media building in two days, this time killing two journalists, the spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister, Mark Regev explains to al-Jazeera English that because the journalists were Palestinian the Israel military considered them legitimate “targets.” Regev’s remarks were made just a few hours after the November 19, 2012 bombing of al-Shuruq Tower and another building used to house the offices of several media outlets, including both Palestinian and international networks.
Speaking to al-Jazeera, Regev said, “We took out the target that we wanted to take out.” When pressed by al-Jazeera over the injuries of eight journalists the previous day, where one lost his leg, Regev continued:
“Oh you’re talking about… oh first of all maybe we have a discussion about who is a journalist and if you’ll allow me I will elaborate on this. There is the al-Aqsa station, which is a station that is a Hamas command and control facility, just as in other totalitarian regimes; the media is used by the regime for command and control and also for security purposes. From our point of view that’s not a legitimate journalist.”
Al-Jazeera’s correspondent then followed-up by asking, “So what are you saying? That a local Arab journalist life is any less than an internationalist journalist?”Apparently for Regev, yes, in Gaza there are no legitimate Palestinian journalists, only targets. [emphasis added]
I don’t think international law makes a distinction between journalists working for outlets within authoritarian regimes and others. Nor do I think Mr. Regev or Ms. Leibovich care. There may be Palestinian journalists working in Gaza who are not somehow connected to Hamas, but to get their credentials they have to apply to the local government – Hamas – to get them.
Kevin Gosztola covered the earlier attacks in a great article here early Sunday, titled Israel’s Targeting Media is a War Crime. Here is his accounting of worldwide media reaction:
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