Israel’s military action in Gaza is widely reported daily across the world. Images of hundreds of rockets lighting up the skies over Israeli cities and of the rubble of destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip are once again part of the daily cycle of print and broadcast news. But most reports are thin on details of Israel’s military activities. What exactly are their aims? How are they pursuing them? And how much success are they having?
Often Israel’s military activities seem baffling to the wider world. The country’s reluctance to give a detailed, running-commentary on every strike frustrates journalists and citizens, who then assume the worst of motives for these unexplained acts.
Take, for example, the airstrikes on Saturday which destroyed the 15-storey al-Jalaa tower, which housed offices of Al Jazeera and Associated Press. Israel insists it did not target a ‘media centre’ as was widely reported. Their intelligence revealed that the tower was used by Hamas, and to a lesser extent by Islamic Jihad, for three purposes.
Firstly, they say, it housed the offices of their military intelligence, which were used for military purposes against Israel. Secondly, Hamas’ Research and Development was undertaken there, with the best subject matter experts operating to develop military weapons to use against Israel. And thirdly, Israel says, there were ‘highly advanced technological tools in or on the building which Hamas has used in fighting against’ Israel.
The IDF is ‘committed to the safety and free work of journalists,’ according to spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. He explains that ‘out of respect to civilians non-combatants and journalists’ notice was given of the airstrike on the tower, despite that giving Hamas and Islamic Jihad time to salvage some of their equipment.
Israel has said throughout the operation that it only has military targets, but that Gaza presents an extremely difficult battle space because Hamas does everything it can to embed its own infrastructure within civilian infrastructure.