On May 15, Israel bombarded a residential building in Gaza which housed the offices of Al-Jazeera and Associated Press. Even as the global community condemned the barbaric attack on the media, the Sangh Parivar members in India resorted to celebration on social media and went on to portray the cowardly act of Israeli air force as a “punishment for airing fake news”
Both Al-Jazeera and Associated press have lost valuable footage, equipments and documents in the attack on the eleven story building.
“Al-Jazeera was punished for broadcasting Fake news about Israeli attack on Palestine. Now all the other media are careful about the news they are publishing about Israel,” a viral message on WhatsApp and other social media platforms stated.
The mischievous message, which was widely circulated by the Sangh Parivar activists, also lauded Israel for having the “guts” to punish the media.
According to reliable sources, an hour preceding the bombing, the Israeli military sent a warning so the residents of the building could evacuate. AP reportedly made several attempts to contact the Israeli military, foreign minister and prime minister’s office. Their concerns were either ignored, or they were told that there was nothing that could be done to stop the attack. A video broadcasted by Al-Jazeera shows the owner of the building Jawwad Mahdi imploring the military to allow them to retrieve their equipment.
The video of Jawwad Mahdi speaking on the phone to the officer has since been widely shared on social media. He is heard asking them to allow just four people to enter the building to get their equipment that had documented the situation in Gaza out before the attack took place. He asked for ten more minutes. The Israeli military swiftly denied his request, saying that they had already been given an hour to evacuate. The building was then bombed.
Press freedom groups worldwide have condemned the attack. They have accused the Israeli military of using claims of a Hamas presence to curb the coverage of the incessant attacks upon Gaza. The International Press Institute, a world renowned network of media personnel has deemed the attack a “gross violation of human rights and internationally agreed norms.”
The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, explained the situation, only saying that there was a Hamas presence in the building. “It was not an innocent building,” he said.
The official reason given by the military, as well as the Prime Minister is staunchly that there was a Hamas presence in the building, and they were trying to eradicate it. There have been no unofficial or official claims from Israeli officials indicating that the attack was some kind of retaliation or punishment for ‘fake news’.
While this affected the amount of coverage the situation in Gaza has, the military has stuck with the reasoning that it was simply combatting Hamas.