Israeli 'Surgical Targeting' of Journalists, Civilians a War Crime: Report

Car that two cameraman were riding in when Israeli missile struck in Gaza City on November 20, 2012. (Fred Abrahams/Human Rights Watch)

Israeli 'Surgical Targeting' of Journalists, Civilians a War Crime: Report

Rights group calls for prosecution of 'Pillar of Defense' crimes

Israeli bombings of media outlets during the recent eight day siege on Gaza broke several international "laws of war," including the targeting of civilians, Human Rights Watch reports Thursday.

Out of the thousands of bombs dropped on Gaza during the attacks, several were used in at least four strikes that directly targeted journalists and media facilities, highlighting the fact that Israeli forces were aiming at more than so-called militants during their "Operation Pillar of Defense" last month.

Two Palestinian cameramen were killed and 10 media workers were wounded in the strikes, which hit four media buildings and four civilian offices in Gaza City.

One of the attacks, which Israel has deemed "surgical targeting" on "operational communications infrastructure," killed a two-year-old boy in the process.

In total, the siege took the lives of over 180 Palestinians and injured hundreds more--a large majority of those casualties being civilians, particularly children.

As HRW is reporting, the blatant attacks on journalists in the city reveals an expansion of targeting beyond so-called militants and evidence of intentional civilian targeting.

HRW reports that Israel's justification of such attacks "suggesting that it is permissible to attack media because of their associations or opinions," in turn, violates "the laws of war and [places] journalists at grave risk."

HRW continues:

Under the laws of war, civilians and civilian structures may not be deliberate targets of attack. Just as it is unlawful to attack the civilian population to lower its morale, it is unlawful to attack facilities that shape public opinion, such as the media; neither directly contributes to military operations.

International law obligates states to investigate serious violations of the laws of war. Victims of violations and their families should be promptly and adequately compensated. Anyone responsible for deliberately or recklessly committing a serious violation of the laws of war should be prosecuted for war crimes.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.