Gaza: Al Jazeera blames Israel as bureau comes under fire

Al Jazeera says Israel was behind 'targeted shots' but IDF denies responsibility

Smoke billows from Gaza City following Israeli military shelling
(Image credit: MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

News agency Al Jazeera's bureau in Gaza came under attack yesterday and had to be evacuated, the broadcaster has claimed. The network's news room is on the 11th floor of a building in a residential area in central Gaza city.

"Two very precise shots were fired straight into our building," said Al Jazeera correspondent Stefanie Dekker. She claimed the shots "caused a lot of panic" and the building had to be evacuated but no casualties were reported. Pictures of the rounds that entered the building were later posted on social media.

Al Jazeera Gaza Bureau chief shows high caliber round he says was one of at least two shot into the office by Israel — Tamer El-Ghobashy (@TamerELG) July 22, 2014

The Israeli army has denied responsibility for the attack, but it comes just a day after Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman told the local press that the government would be working to end Al Jazeera's operations in Gaza.

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He said Al Jazeera has "abandoned even the perception of being a reliable news organisation" accusing the channel of being the mouthpiece of Hamas by broadcasting "anti-Israel incitement, lies, and encouragement to the terrorists".

In a statement accusing Israel of firing the shots, Al Jazeera described Lieberman's comments as a "direct threat against us and appear to have been taken as a green light for the targeting of our journalists in Gaza". It added that the incident was "a dark sign for all journalists operating in the territory".

A lawyer representing the network said the Israeli army had a duty under international law to protect journalists "and most certainly not to target them in the manner threatened by Mr Lieberman yesterday and put into effect today by Israeli soldiers".

Al Jazeera often faces criticism of its reporting from conflict zones in the Middle East and has been "banned, at different times, from almost every country" in the region, The Guardian reports.

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