In the Middle East, Lebanon's TV terrestrial broadcasting stations have taken direct hits from the Israeli Air Force in their targeted bombing campaign against the country's infrastructure.
In the north of Lebanon:
The Committee to Protect Journalists noted that on July 22, Israeli warplanes struck transmission towers in Terbol, near Tripoli in north Lebanon, belonging to the state-run channel Tele-Liban, Future TV and Hezbollah’s own television channel, Al-Manar TV, as well as cellular telephone network towers.
On the same day, Suleiman al-Chidiac, the television engineer in charge of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation’s transmission facility at Fatqa, 16 kilometers northeast of Beirut, died while the TV tower was destroyed.
In al-Qura, also in the north, a technician for Tele-Liban, Khaled Eid, was seriously injured in an attack on a telecommunications tower belonging to the station. Terrestrial transmission was interrupted but remained on-the-air, via satellite.
South of Lebanon situation:
By July 22, most TV news crews with satellite uplink trucks had pulled out of the strategic southern town of Marjeyoun. Those that remained included the international satellite TV news broadcasters, Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera, and the domestic networks LBC and Al-Manar.
Israel has acknowledged targeting Al-Manar installations, accusing the station of propaganda and incitement. It bombed out its TV headquarters in Beirut early on in the bombing campaign, but continued to broadcast round-the-clock news.
Three vehicles from LBC, which set out from Marjeyoun ahead of the other teams, reached the village of Hasb Bayah, were the Lebanese Red Cross had a presence. But a convoy of Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya and Al- Manar vehicles was chased by an Israeli fighter aircraft which fired missiles on the road behind them as they approached an already bombed- out bridge. The journalists said they managed to get away on back roads but the planes followed and again trapped the vehicles by firing missiles at the road ahead of them and behind them.
The journalists and technicians abandoned their vehicles and walked to Hasb Bayah. The following day peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon repaired the road and the crews were able to drive back to Beirut, the journalists said.
“Their cars were clearly marked ’Press’ and ’TV’,” Nabil Khatib, Executive Editor of Al Arabiya, told CPJ.
On July 27, the US-based, CPJ expressed concern over allegations by several television crews that Israeli warplanes had attacked them, effectively shutting down live television coverage from southeast Lebanon.
Crews from four Arab television stations told CPJ that Israeli aircraft fired missiles within 80 yards (75 meters) of them on July 22 to prevent them from covering the effects of Israel’s bombardment of the area around the town of Khiam, in the eastern sector of the Israel-Lebanon border
“Israeli aircraft targeted in an air raid TV crews, especially Al- Jazeera, Al-Arabiya and Al-Manar,”said Ghassan Benjeddou, Al- Jazeera’s Lebanon bureau chief. “It’s a miracle that our crew survived the attack,” he told CPJ.
An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman denied that Israel was targeting journalists. “We are targeting the roads because Hezbollah uses those roads; under no circumstances do we target civilians, including the media,” Capt. Jacob Dallal told CPJ. “Journalists working in those areas are knowingly taking a risk,” he added.
While journalists based in Israel have generally been able to cover IDF operations, live television pictures of the Israeli operation along the border from the Lebanese side is now virtually impossible, journalists said.
On July 30, a German TV crew accompanying a rescue a humanitarian convoy from Tyre to a nearby village came under Israeli tank mortar fire and suffered shrapnel wounds. It was all caught on camera by BBC and Sky News teams in what was supposed to have been a convoy movement cleared by the Israeli Defence Forces.
Several international broadcasters and news organizations told CPJ that they had made the Mediterranean port of Tyre their base in the south. Journalists in the city, which is 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of Beirut, said any vehicles, including TV vehicles, traveling between towns and villages were targeted by Israeli planes if spotted on the road.
Radio broadcasts in Arabic accused several journalists of helping Hezbollah. The radio, Al-Mashraqiyeh, which the journalists believe broadcasts out of Israel, is affiliated with exiled members of the South Lebanon Army, Israel’s military ally during its occupation of south Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s. The radio singled out Al- Jazeera correspondents Katia Nasser and Abbas Nasser, and Al-Arabiya correspondent Ali Noon. CPJ heard a recording of the broadcast against Katia Nasser and Abbas Nasser, in which they were accused of aiding Hezbollah. Abbas was accused of giving Hezbollah favorable coverage in order to secure a job with Al-Manar. The Al-Mashraqiyeh radio announcer said, “the noble Lebanese will hold those who supported Hezbollah in destroying Lebanon to account.”
Reporters Without Borders
Meanwhile, another international watchdog group,'Reporters Without Borders' (RWF) has expressed Beirut expressed solidarity with Lebanese media.
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Menard went to Beirut on July 27, where he has met with news chiefs news whose TV Networks have been victims of Israeli air strikes including LBC, New TV and Al Manar television stations. He also met with representatives of the National Council of the Media.
In the case of the air strikes on LBC’s installations, neither the official or unofficial explanations have been in any way satisfactory says the RWF. The usual Israeli excuses do not suffice, and 'Reporters Without Borders' calls for a transparent investigation to determine who has been responsible.
Despite the air strikes, the broadcasts of all of the Lebanese TV stations can again be received in Lebanon.
Reporters Without Borders, wants it to be clearly known that it demonstrates its solidarity with Lebanon’s journalists - regardless of the positions of the media concerned - and to stress that there can be no grounds for targeting journalists, who like all civilians are protected by the Geneva Conventions, or for targeting any news media, which - according to international conventions - cannot be viewed as military targets.
Reporters Without Borders is preparing to ask the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) to investigate these Israeli attacks on the grounds that they are violations of the Geneva Conventions. (This Berne-based commission was created to investigate any alleged serious violation of the conventions.)
[As a member of the International Federation of Journalists I support the work of the Reporters without Borders and The Committee to Protect Journalists. I noticed how tetchy some of the Israeli Government spokesmen and women have become when speaking to international networks. The Israelis have clearly a well oiled public relations machine compared to limited Hezbollah spokesman seemingly available for interview. How ironic then, that Israel appears to be losing the international PR battle because of the disproportionate military response, under the constant glare of the live satellite media.]