Veteran journalists slam Israeli atrocities, including destruction of building that housed news agencies

A Palestinian policeman stands in the rubble of a building destroyed by an Israeli airstrike that housed The Associated Press' offices in Gaza City, Saturday, May 15, 2021. - AP

PETALING JAYA: A group of veteran Malaysian journalists condemned the Israeli military’s bombardment of homes, offices and other infrastructure, including the building that housed the offices of foreign media such as The Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

The Group of Eminent Journalists said it was unthinkable that a military force would target the offices of media practitioners.

“The Israeli airstrikes destroyed the Al-Jalaa Tower that housed the offices of several media organisations.

“These actions are planned, starting with the eviction of a number of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarra neighbourhood, the right-wing mob attacks against Palestinians, the attacks against worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the strikes against targets in Palestine,” the group said in a statement on Sunday (May 16).

The statement was signed by nine veteran journalists including The Star’s Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, former New Straits Times Press group editor Datuk A. Kadir Jasin, former Media Prima Bhd chairman Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar and former Bernama general manager Datuk Yong Soo Heong.

Other veteran journalists who signed the statement were Karangkraf chairman Datuk Hussamuddin Yaacub, former Bernama chairman Datuk Seri Azman Ujang, Malaysian Press Institute chief executive officer Datuk Chamil Wariya, former Bernama editor-in-chief Datuk Zakaria Wahab and Petra News executive director Datuk Ahiruddin Atan.

The group also urged Israeli journalists to act as the conscience of the nation, saying what is happening now is not about Israel’s so-called right to exist.

“They must also speak up on the rights of the Palestinians to co-exist and survive. The cruelties inflicted upon them over the last seven decades are beyond the realm of human rights and dignity,” it said.

The group was also appalled by the fact that some segments of the western media have typecast the Palestinians as militants, radicals and terrorists, and unsparingly used that to justify atrocities by the Israeli military.

The group also expressed its disappointment with world leaders who seemed to "drag their feet" in coming up with solutions to address the situation between Israel and Palestine.

It said the United Nations General Assembly has yet to come up with a resolution to address the violence and it was also dismayed by US President Joe Biden’s administration move to block the Assembly from making any statements on the matter.

“This is not about religion or ideology, it is human lives and those who have been oppressed and victimised for far too long,” the group said.

It also called on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to make a strong statement about the violence, adding that the Muslim world is looking to it for guidance and direction despite palpable silence from some powerful members.

“The attacks have killed at least 122 people including 31 children and at least 900 more are injured.

“The anger reverberates beyond Gaza even into the state of Israel and the world over. It is simply an act of aggression that must be condemned by all nations and civil societies,” the group said.

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