|Photo by: Majdi Fathi/Reuters|
In fog of war, when are the media human shields?
By YONAH JEREMY BOB
Analysis: IDF and International Federation of Journalists have different interpretations of what constitutes a legitimate target.
From November 18-20 there were at least six incidents in which the IDF targeted
media locations or vehicles. The fog of war hangs over the facts surrounding the
incidents like an impenetrable shroud.
In each case, there are opposing
narratives, with the International Federation of Journalists accusing the IDF of
deliberate targeting of journalists to silence criticism, while the IDF claims
in each case that it was attacking terrorists or military targets.
two sides also focus on different incidents to the extent that in many summaries
on the issue one can lose focus on which incident is being discussed.
IFJ focuses heavily on the details of a November 18 attack on the main foreign
media building in Gaza, saying the IDF hit the 11th floor and other nearby
floors of a 15-story building, as well as another attack that day on a different
media center injuring six journalists.
The IDF said it hit an antenna on
the rooftop that Hamas was using militarily as part of its command and control,
but also does not highlight the November 18 incident as much.
“targeted” four significant Islamic Jihad terrorists on the second floor of a
foreign media building, at least one of whom was killed.
The IFJ does not
mention this incident in the press releases on its website, although it denied
any knowledge or evidence of terrorists in the building.
disagreement is about what actually happened: what got hit and which incident
better tells the overall story of what happened in the media incidents in
Next, there were three attacks on media vehicles.
least in two incidents, the sides agree about who was killed. Both sides say
that Hussam Salama and Mohamed Abu Aisha were killed on November 20.
whereas the IFJ said these individuals and any passengers with them were
straight journalists, the IDF said they were terrorists or dual actors, moving
between journalism and terror at different times.
The IFJ said it is
“very important, in our view and based on the experience of our members in Gaza,
to resist the temptation seeking to label all Gazan journalists as being at the
beck and call of Hamas.”
It added, “Our members are constantly harassed
by the Hamas administration and were even thrown out of their offices which were
taken over by the militants.”
On the flip side, the IDF either cannot or
has not yet revealed the basis of its conclusions that the journalists it
targeted were not journalists at all or functioning as “journalists by day,
terrorists by night.” It is unclear when or if the IDF will reveal this basis,
since such revelations could blow the cover of human intelligence on the ground
or communications intelligence to the extent it may have cracked a terror
group’s communications frequencies.
With issues like intelligence and
dual identities in play, in the fog of war, it can be almost impossible to know
who has the correct facts and if there really is an objective truth.