[Editor's note: Some of the following images are graphic and may not be suitable for all audiences.]
Israeli forces over the weekend targeted a media building in Gaza that, they say, was being used by Hamas as a communications center.
"Senior Islamic Jihad terrorists hid in a media building in Gaza, using journalists working there as human shields,” said a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Here's a quick clip of the attack [via AP]:
The airstrikes have killed at least one militant (who was allegedly engaged in "media warfare" against Israel) and injured six journalists, one of whom allegedly lost a leg, according to various media reports.
Clearly upset with what he refers to as Israel’s policy of “shooting the messenger,” Al Jazeera host Darren Jordon on Monday confronted Israeli spokesman Mark Regev in a heated debate.
"We don't target journalists," said Regev. "We target Hamas."
Jordon noted that there were several journalists inside the building and added that there was no way Israeli forces could have taken out Hamas operatives without harming others.
"As far as I know, no foreign journalists were hurt whatsoever," Regev said. "We were surgical, we took out the target that we wanted to take out."
"You can't sit there and say no journalists were injured," Jordon replied. "One person had their leg blown off. That is a fact."
Let’s pause for just a moment and examine Jordon’s claim. Based on our research, a cameraman with al-Quds TV was injured in one of the airstrikes. He’s Palestinian, his name is Khader Zahar, and he rushed to a hospital immediately following the attacks.
Here’s an official Reuters photo of Zahar:
And here are some follow-up photos. There’s a photo posted to Flickr by activestills:
Khader Haidar al-Zahhar, 20-year-old, at the Intensive care unit in Al Shifa hospital after he sustains serious wounds and his right leg was amputated after the Israeli military strike (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)
And, here’s a photo floating around social media that claims to be Khader:
Two points should be made. First, the above Flickr photo comes from a left-leaning, anti-Israel site. So take it with a large grain of salt. Second, it’s unclear whether the Twitter photo of Khader is legitimate.
There’s a lot of bad information out there and until both photos are verified, we urge readers to proceed with caution.
Okay, back to the Al Jazeera debate.
Regev responded to Jordan’s comments about injured journalists by noting that there’s a distinction to be made between real journalists and the type of media used by "totalitarian regimes."
"Just as in other totalitarian regimes, the media is used by the regime for command and control and also for security purposes. From our point of view, that's not a legitimate journalist,” said Regev.
Jordon was unimpressed with Regev’s line of reasoning and pointed out that the airstrike could’ve harmed international journalists who were also in and around the building.
"None of whom were hurt," Regev said.
"What are you saying, that a local Arab journalist's life is any less than an international journalist?" Jordon shot back.
"Unconditionally, no. We see all journalists as legitimate people," Regev replied.
Jordan pressed on: Does "Israel apologize for the injuries caused in this attack?"
Regev responded, "Israel does not target journalists, and I think there are very legitimate questions about Hamas using journalists as human shields."
As the debate began to wind down, Jordon flat-out accused Israel of purposely targeting journalists.
"You clearly are targeting the media, aren't you? You're shooting the messenger," Jordon snipped.
"Not true at all,” Regev responded somewhat wearily.
Watch it below:
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Front page photo courtesy Getty Images.