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Israeli military bombs building housing news organisations

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 10 January 2009 IFJ media release:

IFJ Demands End to Targeting as Israelis Strike Media Tower

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called for the protection of media and journalists to be guaranteed in any talks taking place to end the violence in the Gaza Strip following the bombing on Friday of a building housing news organisations.

The Al-Johara Tower, an eight-storey building in Al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City, was hit twice by Israeli aircraft, even though the building was clearly marked as housing media staff. Up to 20 news organisations work inside the building including Iran's English-language Press TV and Arabic-language network of al-Alam. Satellite transmission equipment on the roof of the building was destroyed and at least one journalist was reported injured.

The IFJ is particularly concerned because the coordinates for the building were provided to the Israeli military and lighting on the roof clearly identifies the building.

"This latest attack confirms the fear that media inside Gaza are becoming the targets of Israeli forces," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It is time for the international community to condemn this targeting and to ensure that any agreement to end hostilities will also take media and journalists out of the firing line."

The IFJ is supporting its local affiliate, the Palestine Journalists Syndicate, which has also protested over this attack, which came at the end of a week when another Palestinian journalist was reported killed - the fourth media victim of recent Israeli military action in Gaza.

Despite an Israeli Supreme Court ruling ordering the government to allow a limited pool of journalists to enter Gaza, the army continues to block entry of foreign reporters. The IFJ says this is an attempt to manipulate media reporting of the conflict.

"The media have become part of the battleground and journalists are ever more at risk," said White. "The targeting of journalists is a scandalous violation of human rights and must be stopped."

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide.

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