Reporters sans Frontieres calls upon the International Criminal Court to determine whether Israeli air strikes on a Gaza building housing media outlets constituted a war crime.
Press freedom watchdog Reporters sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) has asked the International Criminal Court to determine whether Israeli air strikes on a Gaza building housing media outlets constituted a war crime.
They acted on Sunday after Israeli air strikes flattened the 13-storey Jala Tower in Gaza housing Qatar-based Al Jazeera television and the US news agency The Associated Press Saturday.
Separately, Sally Buzbee, AP’s executive editor, also called for an independent investigation, saing the Israeli government has yet to provide clear evidence supporting its attack.
Israeli defence officials claimed the building housed not only news bureaus but offices of Hamas. They gave the building's owner an hour to evacuate the tower.
But RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in a statement, "deliberately targeting media outlets constitutes a war crime."
What the Israeli army asserts, namely that the alleged presence of Hamas in the buildings would make them legitimate military objectives is absolutely false from a legal point of view, since they also house civilians, such as the media. #GazaUnderAttack— Christophe Deloire (@cdeloire) May 16, 2021
"By intentionally destroying media outlets, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) are not only inflicting unacceptable material damage on news operations," said Deloire.
"They are also, more broadly, obstructing media coverage of a conflict that directly affects the civilian population," the statement added.
"We call on the International Criminal Court's prosecutor to determine whether these air strikes constitute war crimes."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday defended the strike, alleging the building also hosted a Palestinian "terrorist" intelligence office.
RSF recalled that it had earlier asked the ICC to investigate what it regards as war crimes by the Israeli army against dozens of Palestinian journalists covering protests in Gaza in 2018.
Video of inside the press offices of the Associated Press and AlJazeera before the Gaza building was levelled to the ground. Journalists trying to grab precious and valuable equipment in short period. pic.twitter.com/Bi14stu49M— Bessma Momani (@b_momani) May 15, 2021