18 Nov 2012

Journalists among the injured in Gaza

The night is shattered a little after 2am. Even in our hotel some distance away the entire building shifts momentarily, windows shake. And the reverberation rolls off into the night.

There’s a pause.

Then the screams of the ambulances rushing across Gaza City’s empty streets, will pierce the night again.

Screams this night of journalists too. We meet cameraman Khader al Zahhar after his operation in the main hospital.

Relatives comfort him but he is barely conscious after surgery to remove his lower right leg.

There is outrage here that not one but two TV buildings full of journalists have been hit today.

Of course, Israel knew what these building were and targeted them specifically. The Israeli army (IDF) spokesman said: “By placing communication infrastructure on roofs of media buildings, Hamas uses the foreign journalists as human shields.”

Possibly so. Though proving if any of the many masts and antennae on these two building – probably the tallest in Gaza City, are actually Hamas equipment, is pretty much impossible.

In the past the US have hit journalists in a number of conflicts in recent years from Baghdad to Belgrade.  Now add to that list Israel.

Outside one of the damaged buildings the kids were paying football in the streets oblivious to it all.

On our car radio the Israelis are using frequencies of radio stations blown off the air to warn Gazans to steer clear of any government building or building known to be used by Hamas or the police.

Yet when they warn people to evacuate the TV building early afternoon because they say they’ll hit it again, crews are still doing pieces-to-camera right outside. The football kids are still at it too.

There is resignation, fatalism even, in the air in Gaza.

On one street people run randomly to get away from another incoming airstrike – but it never arrives. A man with two small girls, aged five at most, runs sweating from a burning building into a waiting friend’s car. When we ask him what happened he just says: “Ask Israel.”

Yet still the occasional rocket can be heard being fired from some patch of wasteground into Israel.

That is the time to move and move quite fast, to another place. There will be a reply from the Israeli side in minutes, perhaps several. But it will come.

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