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18 Nov, 2012 17:17

‘Israel knowingly targeted the media’ – RT reporter in Gaza

The crew of RT’s Arabic-language sister channel Rusiya Al-Yaum barely escaped death as Israeli rockets targeted the media center in Gaza and destroy the building where they work.

An Israeli airstrike on a media compound in Gaza city injured at least six journalists, one of whom lost his leg, Palestinian medical officials say. RT Arabic correspondent Saed Suerki said four missiles hit their office building. One of them came through the roof, reached the 10th floor, destroying everything in its path – including the equipment of al-Quds TV, a channel Israel accuses of spreading Hamas propaganda.

Suerki and his colleagues were lucky – they were outside when the strike happened.“No one expected this. During the strikes power supplies often get cut off. And then it becomes really difficult for us to find fuel for the generator. At that moment we decided to take a break in our work and go look for gas, so that we could continue working early in the morning. We left at around 1 AM and at 2 it all happened,” Suerki told RT.

Some of his friends, who were inside the building when the missiles hit it, are now in the local hospital.Suerki said that at times like these, when violence escalates, he and his colleagues stay at the office instead of going home, even though it’s much more dangerous, and work whenever conditions allow it. RT Arabic wasn’t the only channel to be affected – local, Italian, German, Lebanese and Kuwaiti channels also suffered, with some merely losing equipment or office space, and others ending up in hospitals, wounded by the blast.

Suerki said the fact these particulars buildings are used by the media is a well-known fact, but it didn’t save them from being targeted. “We’re talking about four tower blocks in Gaza that have been used by media outlets since 2000. During the war in 2008-2009 Israel struck these buildings, too. Some of our colleagues were injured then”.An IDF report described the target of the attack as “a communications antenna used by Hamas to carry out terror activity against the State of Israel.” And Israeli military officials told the BBC they knew beforehand that there were foreign journalists in at least in one of the buildings they bombed. The Middle East Foreign Press Association demanded an explanation from the IDF over why the media buildings were targeted, saying that under international law,journalists in areas of conflict are considered civilians and must be protected as such.“Reporters Without Borders” have also condemned the Israeli missile attacks.