Israeli airstrike destroys press car, killing Palestinian media worker

The car Shihab was driving was clearly marked as a press vehicle, according to multiple news reports.

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Israel Defense Forces’ airstrike on a car clearly marked as a press vehicle in Gaza City on Wednesday. The airstrike killed Hamid Shihab, a driver for the Gaza-based press agency Media 24, according to the agency.

Media 24 cameraman, Hatem Silmy, told CPJ that Shihab was parked outside his home when the car was hit. The two were headed to the Media 24 office so Silmy could report on the ongoing conflict between Israeli and Palestinian forces, the cameraman said.

The car Shihab was driving was clearly marked as a press vehicle, according to multiple news reports. Photographs taken by Palestinian freelance journalist, Zouheir al-Najjar, and posted on Facebook show the word “TV” written in red on the car’s gray hood.

It was not clear what kind of airstrike killed Shihab and injured several others. News reports said 750 targets have been struck in the Gaza Strip by Israeli fighter jets, helicopters, and armed drones in the past three days, killing at least 81 Palestinians. No Israeli deaths have been reported despite dozens of rockets launched from Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) did not respond to CPJ’s requests for comment. IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told The New York Times that he did not have details on the case.

“We condemn the killing of Hamid Shihab and call on the Israel Defense Forces to refrain from targeting media vehicles and facilities in Gaza,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “Attacking journalists in a war zone is in direct contravention of international law.”

The Israeli military repeatedly targeted journalists during the 2012 conflict with Hamas. On November 20, 2012, two cameramen for the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV station were killed when an Israeli missile struck their car, which was also identified as “TV.” At the time, the IDF claimed the men were “Hamas operatives.” The IDF failed to adequately respond to CPJ’s repeated requests for evidence that the journalists had lost their protected civilian status by engaging in military activity. A couple days prior, Israeli airstrikes also targeted two buildings known for housing numerous international and local news organizations, news reports said. At least nine journalists were injured in those attacks.

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