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Ear to the Ground

Al-Jazeera Evacuates Gaza Offices After It Claims Press Building Targeted by Israeli Forces

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Posted on Jul 23, 2014

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Shortly after Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman publicly accused Al-Jazeera of airing “anti-Semitic” propaganda, the media outlet’s offices in Gaza reportedly “came under fire” Tuesday. The Israel Defense Forces denies the claim that the building that houses Al-Jazeera, The Associated Press and other news networks was targeted, but Al-Jazeera English reporter Nicole Johnston sent out a tweet stating that the “Israeli Defense Forces confirmed firing two shots at the news bureau.”

Other tweets by Al-Jazeera staff include a photograph of a “high caliber round” that employees say was shot into their office Tuesday morning.

Twitter followers of some of the reporters who evacuated have responded by condemning “a democracy” for possibly attacking journalists, while others have taken to using the hashtag #hellofapinpointoperation to echo Secretary of State John Kerry’s candid statement of frustration caught on camera Sunday.

The Huffington Post:

An Al Jazeera spokesman said Tuesday that Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s harsh comments about the network a day earlier “were a direct threat against us 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,” the spokesman said. “They have put the lives of journalists in danger.”...Israel recently struck the offices of Palestinian media outlets in Gaza, the scene of a two-week assault in which more than 600 Palestinians have been killed and 3,700 wounded. Twenty-seven Israeli soldiers have died in the conflict, which Israel faults Hamas for starting by firing missiles from Gaza.

In Nov. 2012, Israel targeted media outlets during air strikes on Gaza, and in recent days has warned foreign journalists that the country will not be responsible if they are injured covering the latest conflict….An Al Jazeera spokesman said it “will continue reporting all aspects of the events taking place, with the utmost professionalism, with commitment to the human side of the story” and will take “all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our crews.”

“A threat to one is a threat to all, and this is a dark sign for all journalists operating in the territory,” he said. “Journalists must be protected while doing their job of giving the public information they have the right to know, helping them understand what is going on. Journalism is not a crime!”

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—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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