Layal Nejib, 23, a photographer for the Lebanese magazine Al-Jaras, was killed by an Israeli air strike on her taxi in southern Lebanon yesterday. Although she is the first journalist to have been killed in the conflict, at least eleven other news teams have been directly hit by Israeli strikes, and a technician with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation was killed Saturday when a missile hit the station’s transmission tower.
On Saturday, the two satellite trucks for al-Arabiya television and Al-Jazeera television, the only news teams still reporting from southern Lebanon, were hit by direct strikes from Israeli missiles. This has resulted in a media blackout in southern Lebanon. In northern Lebanon on Saturday, one technician was killed in a strike on Lebanese Broadcasting Corp.’s transmission center in Fatqa, northeast of Beirut, a strike that put the station, the largest broadcaster in Lebanon, and the most popular in the Middle East, off the air.
News crews in Israel have received strict instructions not to report if Hezbollah rockets hit military targets inside Israel, and each news crew is accompanied by an Israeli police officer. All interviews must be approved by the Israeli military censor. The Bureau chief of Al-Jazeera television was arrested last week, apparently as a warning, because the station had not reported anything different than any other station.
And in the West Bank and Gaza, news crews have been directly hit in the last three weeks on at least seven occasions. An Al-Jazeera news crew was attacked while broadcasting from the city of Nablus, the anchorwoman was rammed by an Israeli jeep and the cameraman was shot. The International Federation of Journalists asked Israeli officials to explain the incident, and Israel quit the Federation rather than respond.
Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation taken off the air by Israeli strike
The largest private television network in Lebanon was taken off the air Saturday when an Israeli missile strike destroyed its transmission tower.
This is not the first time the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC), broadcasting since 1985 has been affected by the conflicts in Lebanon, although it is the first time an Israeli strike has hit the station.
During the Lebanese civil war, the station was damaged several times in 1989 and 90. And in 1992, without prior warning, the Lebanese government compelled LBC to evacuate its Jounieh premises. Equipment and offices were quickly moved. Within a day, the station was back on the air again.
The LBC Satellite channel is the most popular in the Middle East, and has been broadcasting 22 hours a day since January 1997.
The station is known mainly for music videos, entertainment, news and movies. But since the Israeli missile strikes began hitting southern Lebanon on the 13th of July, they have been broadcasting footage of victims of the strikes, devastation wrought by Israeli bombs, and interviews with evacuees who had to flee from their homes.
Future TV, another Lebanese station known for music videos and entertainment, has also been broadcasting footage of the devastation caused by Israeli airstrikes for several hours each day.
Israeli forces, apparently angered by the footage that has been shown to viewers unedited, portraying hour after hour of destruction from the thousands of tons of bombs that have been dropped indiscriminately on Lebanon by Israeli planes, have been targeting a number of media outlets over the last several days, including Al-Manar Television, Al-Hurrah Television, Al Arabiya Television, and Al-Jazeera Television, hitting television headquarters, towers and journalists.
Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, journalists, including those engaged in areas of armed conflicts, enjoy the same rights and protections as all civilians. Provided that they do not undertake any action which could jeopardise their civilian status, journalists are supposed to be protected in the same way as all other civilians against attacks.