Gaza: Israel Denies Strikes Targeted Media

November 18th, 201210:37 pm @


Gaza: The Moment Media Buildings Were Hit

Updated: 9:37pm UK, Sunday 18 November 2012

By Sam Kiley, Middle East Correspondent, in Gaza City

An orange flash lingered, windows bulged pregnant, and burst – the bang came last.

It’s odd the things you notice in the blink of an eye.

We had chosen to sleep on the floor in a small room in the Sky studios in downtown Gaza City for our own safety.

The previous two nights had been interrupted every few minutes with the cataclysmic detonations of air strikes near the hotel we had picked in the north of the city.

Hamas has rocket firing points not far from the hotel, a training ground, and the home of Ismail Haniye, the Hamas Prime Minister were about 500 years away.

One can only take so a few nights of the “waterbed effect” – when the shock waves of a nearby blasts seem to liquefy the mattress and its occupant flows onto the floor.

More fools us.

Mick Deane, Sky’s veteran cameraman, News Editor Tom Rayner, and I convinced ourselves that the Sky Arabia studios that we were borrowing were well known to the Israeli Aid Force, and would never be targeted.

At around midnight on Saturday we might have taken a hint. A building about 100 yards away was hit twice.

Our local colleagues reacted with horror. Eight journalists were injured, one losing a leg, they were from two Arab TV Channels.

Ambulances screeched up and down the streets while we considered out options.

We had none.

It was too dangerous to leave in the middle of the night, we risked being picked off as militants by an Israeli drone.

Surely they would not hit us here, we reasoned, they have good intelligence?

We wrapped ourselves in the miraculous, dream coat-coloured polyester blankets that are ubiquitous in the Third World, and tried to catch up on missed sleep.

An hour after dawn, the first flash, the bubbling windows.

We struggled into our dirt-stiffened clothes to figure out how badly hit we were and look for any injured.

As I approached the stairwell leading to the floor above and the roof, another blast drove a wall of choking dust down at me and I spun away.

Water poured out of burst mains on the roof and cascaded down the outside of the building.

Later Israeli military officials said that a Hamas communications facility had been “surgically targeted” on the roof above us and an especially small munition used to destroy it.

Air strikes have become an everyday experience for Gazans.  Except we were luckier than many.

Gaza’s trapped population has endured raids against 1,000 targets across this tiny coastal enclave. After a house was hit he death toll shot up to around 60, with some 300 wounded.

The majority, medical officials say, are civilians.

Just like the Sky News team, Gazans don’t know where they can be safe.

Hamas or other militants use rocket launching sites that are tucked into residential neighbourhoods to fire at Israel.

Gaza is so densely populated it’s difficult to see how the militants could find anywhere to use their weapons that did not endanger civilians. Equally, however hard Israel tries to avoid hitting the innocent, it surely has and surely will.

The only advice Israel’s military give to Gazans is to try to stay away from Hamas installations and personnel.

But as we spent several hours trying to figure out how to do that, we drew a blank.

Hamas is the government here. It runs the schools and other ministries. Its security officers are on every street corner, and its guerrilla fighters experts at concealment.

Nowhere is safe.

So we are back at our hotel in the north of the city enduring the orange flashes, the bulging windows, the nauseating process of actually counting luck.

Just like everybody else.


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