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Palestinian media worker dies in Israeli airstrike on clearly marked press vehicle

Palestinians inspect the remains of a car which police said was hit in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on 9 July 2014
Palestinians inspect the remains of a car which police said was hit in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on 9 July 2014

REUTERS/Ashraf Amrah

As Israel's Operation Protective Edge enters its fourth day, Hamid Shihab, a 30-year-old driver for the Gaza-based press agency Media 24, has had his name added to the rising Palestinian death toll.

Shihab, who was driving a car clearly marked as a press vehicle, was killed in a targeted Israeli airstrike on the night of 9 July 2014.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) spoke to Media 24 cameraman Hatem Silmy who said that Shihab was parked outside his home when the car was hit. He told CPJ that the two were headed to the Media 24 office so Silmy could report on the ongoing conflict. Photographs taken by Palestinian freelance journalist Zouheir al-Najjar show the word "TV" written in red on the car's gray hood.

So far, Israel has struck more than 750 targets in Gaza in the past three days bringing the death toll up to 100. Although rockets were launched from Gaza into Israeli territory, no deaths have been reported.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) published a statement calling on the international community to pressure Israel to halt its offensive into the Gaza strip and to protect journalists.

Other IFEX members have also been quick to condemn the targeting of Media 24's press vehicle and the subsequent death of Hamid Shahib as blatant disregard for press freedom.

"We condemn the killing of Hamid Shihab and call on the Israel Defense Forces to refrain from targeting media vehicles and facilities in Gaza," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. "Attacking journalists in a war zone is in direct contravention of international law."

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), in demanding, “that Israeli authorities carry out a thorough investigation into this attack to ensure that justice prevails.”

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) named Shihab as the first media victim of Israel's offensive into Gaza.

Based on the events of Israel's last military offensive into Gaza in November 2012, the current situation does not bode well for Palestinian journalists trying to cover the conflict. On 20 November 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, two Al-Aqsa TV cameramen were killed when an Israeli missile struck their car, which was also identified as a press vehicle. Several press buildings were also targeted.

According to Reporters Without Borders, which has been diligently monitoring the situation in the Palestinian territories over the past few weeks, some journalists have been attacked by the Israeli army while others have been arrested arbitrarily. Security forces have also been conducting raids on media offices.

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