Major international journalist groups have joined a rising chorus of worldwide condemnation of Saturday’s Israeli attack razing the Gaza Strip office of Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.
The Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA) and European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) both issued statements Sunday in solidarity with Anadolu Agency, whose office was destroyed in the Israeli airstrikes.
In a message to Anadolu Agency Director General Senol Kazanci, OANA President Aslan Aslanov expressed his sorrow over the incident.
"Any attacks on media representatives and freedom of speech and information are unacceptable," Aslanov said.
He added that "efforts to restrict the activities of media and journalists pose a threat to freedom of speech and run contrary to international legal norms."
OANA was founded in Bangkok in 1961 at the First General Assembly of Asian news agencies on the initiative of UNESCO.
Europe’s EANA said it had learned “that the Gaza office of our member agency Anadolu was damaged during the recent conflict in the region".
"EANA regards the security of journalists as a precondition of freedom of speech. Therefore EANA asks for special attention to the life and health of journalists doing their job in the field," said an EANA statement.
EANA, a Swiss-based nonprofit association of news agencies, was founded in 1956.
Indonesia’s Antara News Agency also condemned the attack in a statement saying: "We are confident that we can represent the Indonesian press community in expressing condemnation of this attack on freedom of the press."
‘Violation of rules of war’
An Indonesian journalists association also condemned Saturday’s Israeli attack.
Abdul Manan, chairman of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), said on Sunday that the attack violated international conventions stating that institutions such as hospitals, the media, and humanitarian groups cannot be targeted in a conflict.
"Parties not involved in the conflict must not be attacked," Manan told Anadolu Agency.
Manan alleged that Israel deliberately carried out the attack, as Anadolu Agency is a news agency that routinely reports on attacks and human rights violations Israel commits in Palestine.
The attack, according to Manan, was also an attack on press freedom in Palestine.
"This will worsen the situation in Palestine, because it minimizes the possibility of outside media knowing what happened there, which has been reported quite intensely by Anadolu," said Manan.
His group, said Manan, urged the international community to pressure Israel to immediately stop the violence, “so that similar incidents do not recur in the future."
‘Press freedom must be defended’
The first condemnation of the Israeli attack came on Saturday by Michalis Psilos, head of the Alliance of Mediterranean News Agencies (AMAN) and secretary-general of the Association of Balkan News Agencies - Southeast Europe (ABNA-SE).
Psilos, who is also president and general director of the Athens News Agency/Macedonian Press Agency (ANA/MPA), conveyed his support to Anadolu Agency Director General Senol Kazanci in a message.
“We condemn the attack on Anadolu Agency’s office. It is imperative to defend press freedom against such attacks,” the message read.
Israeli warplanes hit the building in Gaza where Anadolu Agency’s office is located with at least five rockets after warning shots, the agency's correspondent in Jerusalem reported. No injuries or death were reported, but the building was destroyed.
Founded in 1920, Anadolu Agency currently produces news in 13 languages and serves 6,000 subscribers in 93 countries, with at least 3,000 employees stationed in 100 countries.
On a daily basis, Anadolu Agency publishes an average of 1,600 stories, 2,300 photos, six infographics, and 400 videos, and airs 15 live broadcasts.
* Hayati Nupus from Jakarta contributed to this report