Israeli terror towers over Al Jazeera in Gaza

  • 5 months   ago
Mohammed Salem/Reuters
Israel’s attack on a tower in Gaza housing the offices of Doha-based Al Jazeera and The Associated Press smacks of hubris and an unparalleled defiance of international norms and human rights. It is also an assault on the media’s ability to report the facts from the ground in a bloody flare up with Palestinian militant group Hamas. 
An Israeli air strike on Saturday flattened the 12-story Jala Tower in Gaza which had offices of the international media organizations. Media reports said the high-rise also housed residential apartments and Israeli authorities had given the building owner an hour to get it vacated. 
“This is an Israeli reaction to prevent the media, specially Al Jazeera, from reporting about the clashes from the ground. Israel cannot see this and wants to silence the media. The strike on the building shows the country’s ‘can’t care less’ attitude to the outside world,” says a Doha-based journalist specializing in the politics of the Gulf region. Western media outlets have been supporting Israel, which has launched incessant attacks on civilians in Gaza, including children, she says adding that over the last two days Western media’s sympathy for Israel seems slightly mellowed.
The attack on the media tower came after days of confrontation between the two sides that began during the Holy month of Ramadan. Israel has conducted air raids on Hamas positions in Gaza while the group has retaliated by firing hundreds of rockets into Israel, which is known to thwart the strikes with its Iron Dome anti-missile system. 
Amid the escalated conflict, the destruction of the media tower has shocked stakeholders and the international community alike. “This is very disturbing on a number of levels. It serves to limit media reporting in this conflict zone and raises the spectre that the press is being deliberately targeted and that customary international law has been broken,” says Dr Steven Wright, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the Middle Eastern Studies Department (MESD), College of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Hamad Bin Khalifa University.
As of Sunday evening, the fighting had killed at least 192 people in Gaza, including 58 children and 34 women. Israel claims ten people have died due to militant attacks in its territory, including two children. 
A UN Security Council meeting aimed at brokering a ceasefire was being held on Sunday evening, with the international community watching with trepidation as the two sides showed no signs of pulling their punches.
Thousands of protesters on Saturday gathered at the Imam Muhammad Abdel-Wahhab Mosque square in Doha to show solidarity with Palestinians as Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas Dr Ismail Haniya visited Qatar and met the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs H E Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that there will not be any let up in the assault and attacks against Hamas will continue with full force betrays an aggressive streak that is underlined by an egregious pleasure in Palestinian pain and suffering. Netanyahu’s attempts to play to the gallery is forced by his domestic political agenda with power being the lynchpin of his anti-Palestinian tirade. Military prowess has been the pivot on which Israel has leveraged its campaign against the hapless people of the Palestinian Territories.
By defending the destruction of the building housing media outlets in Gaza, Netanyahu has upped the ante in the conflict, cocking a snook at the international community. It shows that Israel is willing to go to any lengths to torpedo peace efforts in the region — which is manifested in the Netanyauhu administration’s policy of expanding Israeli settlements at the cost of uprooting Palestinians from their homes. 
It’s an understatement to say that the Israeli prime minister’s actions deserve condemnation. Netanyahu’s realpolitik — emanating from whatever he has in his mind — is driven by an agenda that needs to be mercilessly dealt with so that the world and the region can live in peace.