Friday, May 24, 2024

Gaza journalist has foot blown off in Israeli attack

HomeWARGaza journalist has foot blown off in Israeli attack

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A Turkish journalist was left savagely maimed after Israeli forces inexplicably struck a team of media workers in central Gaza on Friday, prompting global revulsion over the brutal attack and desperate calls to protect reporters covering the perpetually smoldering conflict.

Sami Shehadeh, a cameraman for the major broadcaster TRT, had his foot abruptly blown off in the baffling explosion at the Nuseirat refugee camp, according to his employer and Palestinian authorities. Doctors were forced to amputate what remained of the mangled limb to save Shehadeh’s life.

“I was wearing a press vest and helmet – it was clear even for the blind that I’m a journalist,” Shehadeh recounted from his hospital bed at al-Aqsa in Deir al-Balah, his voice wavering with shock and outrage. “I was far from any danger zone, even surrounded by people and other journalists.”

The inexplicable Israeli strike also seriously wounded Sami Berhum, TRT Arabi’s correspondent in Gaza. Footage from the chaotic aftermath showed victims including a child being frantically evacuated on stretchers as plumes of smoke billowed over the debris-littered streets. At least 70 Palestinians were reported injured in total and rushed to Nuseirat’s al-Awda Hospital.

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In a blistering statement, TRT alleged the strike amounted to “Israeli brutality” of the most heinous kind that “went beyond all moral, legal or humanitarian limits.” Turkish officials claimed it was nothing less than an intentional “massacre” against journalists.

The TRT Arabi crew’s vehicle “was preparing to broadcast from the Nuseirat camp…when it was targeted by an Israeli army strike,” the broadcaster said, leaving the world to ponder what possible justification could exist for such a brazen attack against clearly marked media workers.

The incomprehensible scenes left even veteran observers of the Israel-Palestinian conflict shaken. Over 100 journalists have now been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since the latest eruption of bloodshed began in October, according to the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

“We’ve had to report them almost daily for the past six months. This massacre has to stop,” said Jonathan Dagher, the group’s inflamed Middle East chief. “These attacks put their lives in grave danger simply for doing a job the world needs – documenting the truth.”

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Both the Palestinian authorities’ media office and journalist unions claimed the strike laid bare Israel’s deliberate campaign “to scare, threaten and prevent reporters from carrying out their duties, as well as to stifle the truth” about the deepening humanitarian catastrophe in the besieged coastal territory.

While both sides have been accused of putting reporters at risk, such justifications from Israel have rung increasingly hollow amid the relentless pattern of strikes obliterating entire media offices, residential towers and other urban areas where Palestinian fighters take cover.

The deadliest single strike came in November, when Israeli airstrikes razed a major media tower in Gaza City that housed the offices of dozens of international and local outlets. While insisting it takes all possible precautions to avoid civilian casualties, Israel has argued militant groups use civilians and reporters as human shields.

But such rationalizations have done little to quell global condemnation of the mounting death toll – over 33,600 Palestinians killed since October, according to Gaza officials – and charges that Israel is committing war crimes through its excessive force and discriminatory policies. Human Rights Watch accused Israel of waging “apartheid” just last month.

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The baffling strike in Nuseirat drew strident outrage from Ankara, one of the few remaining allies of the militant group Hamas which governs Gaza. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed in a call with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that “no matter what happens, we will continue to stand firm against Israel’s barbaric attacks on Gaza – and Israel will pay the price for this cruelty,” his spokesman said.

As the cyclone of cataclysmic airstrikes and rocket barrages rages into its eighth month with no resolution in sight, press freedom advocates say they will continue ringing the alarm over the unconscionable jeopardy journalists face simply for bearing witness to the tragedies playing out in the isolated Palestinian territory.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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