Outrage as videos of Israeli soldiers admitting to targeting Palestinian children emerge

The Israeli army is under intense scrutiny for its actions in Gaza, with several videos surfacing of Israel Defense Forces soldiers mocking Palestinians and highlighting the harsh conditions they are forced to endure. (AFP/File)
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Updated 29 December 2023
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Outrage as videos of Israeli soldiers admitting to targeting Palestinian children emerge

  • In one video, a soldier appears to openly confess killing of 12-year-old Palestinian girl

LONDON: Videos of Israeli soldiers openly confessing to targeting Palestinian children have sparked widespread outrage across social media platforms.

In one particularly distressing recording, an Israeli soldier is seen admitting on camera his intention to harm an infant, ultimately resorting to killing a 12-year-old Palestinian girl when unable to locate one.

In the footage circulating on social media, the soldier is heard telling a comrade: “We are looking for babies, but there are no babies left.”

The unseen person off-camera requests clarification, prompting the soldier to respond: “Maybe I killed a girl who was 12 years old, but we are looking for the babies.”

Another video, met with stark condemnation, features a different soldier proudly admitting to shooting two children playing football in the Gaza Strip. The soldier explains: “I just went to Gaza, and there were two little girls playing football. So, what did I do? I took my weapon and shot them in the head.”

The videos have sparked widespread condemnation, with some social media users calling for accountability for war crimes.

The Israeli army is under intense scrutiny for its actions in Gaza, with several videos surfacing of Israel Defense Forces soldiers mocking Palestinians and highlighting the harsh conditions they are forced to endure.

Earlier in December, a video emerged of an Israeli soldier destroying remaining items inside a toy store in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Another clip, seemingly showing an IDF soldier celebrating his daughter’s second birthday by detonating a house in Gaza, went viral across websites and social media.

These actions have been condemned by the international community as an attempt to “humiliate” Palestinians in “revenge” for the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

“These videos and their content have no military value to Israelis,” wrote Daoud Kuttab, an award-winning Palestinian journalist and the director of Community Media Network, in an Arab News column published earlier in December.

In an investigation, Israeli newspaper Haaretz exposed a racist social media account allegedly operated by the IDF military. The channel, named “72 Virgins — Uncensored,” has been used by the Israeli army to share graphic content depicting the killing of Hamas members and the destruction of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces have intensified attacks in central and southern areas of Gaza, causing distress among residents who fear further ground incursions into densely populated zones already housing tens of thousands of people displaced by the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

According to Palestinian health authorities, the toll from Israeli attacks in the past 24 hours stands at 210 confirmed deaths, escalating the war’s casualties to 21,320 individuals, nearly 1 percent of Gaza’s population. There are fears that many more may be trapped beneath the rubble.


Palestinian journalists urge US media to boycott correspondents’ dinner with Biden

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Palestinian journalists urge US media to boycott correspondents’ dinner with Biden

  • Appeal issued due to administration’s involvement in Israel’s actions in Gaza

LONDON: Palestinian journalists are urging their US counterparts to boycott the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner over the Biden administration’s involvement in Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The appeal, which has been endorsed by 25 Palestinian journalists from Gaza and from other countries, was officially issued on Tuesday after endorsement campaigns lasting a couple of weeks.

The letter said: “As Palestinian journalists, we urgently appeal to you, our colleagues globally, with a demand for immediate and unwavering action against the Biden administration’s ongoing complicity in the systematic slaughter and persecution of journalists in Gaza.

“For Palestinian journalists in Gaza, the blue press vest does not offer us protection, but rather functions as a red target.”

Media watchdogs have reported that at least 97 journalists and media workers have been among the more than 34,000 killed since the conflict began on Oct. 7.

Many others are missing or being detained by the Israeli military “for merely fulfilling our journalistic duties.”

Some 25 journalists have signed the letter, although some have chosen to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by the Israeli army.

The letter includes signatures from renowned Gaza-based journalists such as Bisan Owda and photojournalists Mohamed Almasri, Ali Jadallah, Hosam Salem, and Mohammed Zaanoun.

The appeal has also been supported by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and Palestinian reporters working outside Gaza, including Mariam Barghouti, Mohammed El-Kurd, and Said Arikat, the Washington bureau chief for Al-Quds newspaper.

The letter criticizes the annual event — scheduled for April 27 — as an attempt by the US administration to manipulate the media by sacrificing journalistic ethics for access.

The letter added: “For journalists to fraternize at an event with President Biden and Vice President Harris would be to normalize, sanitize, and whitewash the administration’s role in genocide.

“The press plays an integral role in standing up against injustice by illuminating the truth and holding power to account.

“Journalists in Gaza cannot continue to bear the burden of doing so alone. It is past time journalists take action for journalists in Gaza.”


Dubai-based Telegram platform to hit 1 bln users within year, founder says

Updated 17 April 2024
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Dubai-based Telegram platform to hit 1 bln users within year, founder says

  • Goal is to remain neutral and not a “player in geopolitics,” Pavel Durov said in interview

LONDON: The Telegram messaging app, one of the most popular social media platforms in Ukraine and Russia, will likely cross 1 billion active monthly users within a year, its founder said in remarks published on Tuesday.
In a rare interview, Pavel Durov told US journalist Tucker Carlson that the Dubai-based free cloud-based app that allows users to send and receive messages, calls and other files, is spreading like a “forest fire.”
“We’ll probably cross 1 billion monthly active users within a year now,” Durov, who fully owns Telegram, told Tucker, according to the video interview posted on Tucker’s account on the X social media platform.
The goal of the app, which has now 900 million active users, is to remain a “neutral platform” and not a “player in geopolitics,” Durov said. The Russia-born entrepreneur said he had fled Russia in 2014 citing government interference in a company he founded.
One of Telegram’s main rivals, Meta Platforms’ WhatsApp, has more than 2 billion monthly active users. The Financial Times reported in March that Telegram would likely aim for a US listing once the company had reached profitability.
After Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Telegram has become an instrumental tool for both governments and a go-to place for posting and accessing unfiltered information about the war.
Almost all major media, government entities and public figures in both Russia and Ukraine operate content channels on Telegram.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky posts his daily video addresses on the app, while his armed forces warn of air raids and document battlefield developments. The Kremlin announces President Vladimir Putin’s activities on Telegram, while Russia’s opposition rallies for support.
But the app, critics said, has also become a tool of misinformation and manipulation. A bill submitted to the Ukrainian parliament in March looks at stricter regulation of Telegram and other social networks.
The Kremlin told Durov to be more attentive after the messaging application was allegedly used to help recruit the gunmen who attacked a concert hall outside Moscow in March.


TikTok launches awards scheme for best ad campaigns on the platform in Middle East

Updated 16 April 2024
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TikTok launches awards scheme for best ad campaigns on the platform in Middle East

  • The awards cover six categories designed to recognize different aspects of campaigns
  • The winners will be announced during a ceremony in November

DUBAI: Short-form video app TikTok has launched an inaugural awards program to recognize and honor the best advertising campaigns on the platform in the Middle East, Turkey, South Africa and Pakistan, based on their creativity and performance.

“We have seen how creative talents from different backgrounds leverage digital platforms such as TikTok to push creative boundaries and set new benchmarks for advertising,” said Shadi Kandil, the company’s general manager of global business solutions in the Middle East, Turkey, Africa, Central and South Asia.

“This is exactly why it is important to celebrate the role brands and agencies play in promoting this dynamism. Through the TikTok Ad Awards, we aim to not only recognize their innovative efforts but also amplify the unique cultural narratives of communities within this region.”

Similar TikTok awards programs are already established in other markets but this year marks the first time they have been open to advertisers in the four listed territories. They cover six categories designed to recognize different aspects of ad campaigns.

“It’s the Creative for Me” celebrates campaigns with strong ideas and strategies specifically designed for the platform, while “Bougie on a Budget” honors those crafted on modest budgets that combine paid and organic content.

“The Trendsetter” category aims to recognize brands and agencies that harness the platform’s advertising products in innovative and effective ways.

Music and audio effects, and the influencers who operate in related spaces, are pivotal for TikTok. With that in mind, the “Sound On Please!” category will reward campaigns in which sound is a key element.

“Community Core” is for advertisers that leverage the talent of TikTok creators, while the audience at the awards ceremony in November will vote on the finalists in all the categories to choose a “People’s Choice” winner.

The TikTok Ad Awards are now open to submissions from brands and agencies in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa and Pakistan. The deadline is Sept. 6.


BBC urges UN experts to condemn Iran’s ‘harassment’ of its journalists

Updated 16 April 2024
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BBC urges UN experts to condemn Iran’s ‘harassment’ of its journalists

  • Tehran has convicted some of the broadcater’s Persian journalist of “propaganda” against the state

LONDON: The BBC on Tuesday urged United Nations experts to condemn the “ongoing targeting and harassment” of some of its Persian language journalists after Tehran convicted some for “propaganda” against the state.
According to the broadcaster, documents published in February by a hacking group appear to reveal that a number of current and former BBC News Persian journalists were convicted in absentia by an Iranian court in February 2022 for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic.”
A complaint was submitted by lawyers on behalf of the BBC to five special rapporteurs, it said in a statement.
The rapporteurs are independent experts in areas such freedom of expression and human rights and summary or arbitrary executions, who do not speak for the UN but report their findings to it.
“Recent developments have amplified the severe situation facing our BBC News Persian staff on a daily basis. They are being penalized for their journalism and professionalism,” said BBC World Service director Liliane Landor.
“We are urging UN experts to robustly condemn the Iranian authorities’ harassment and to hold the regime to account,” she added.
Lawyers Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Jennifer Robinson, who are acting for the BBC, accused Iran of abusing “national security and counter-terrorism laws against the BBC.”
They said “convictions in absentia for BBC News Persian journalists for ‘propaganda’ against the state for their independent reporting on Iran are designed to intimidate and silence the BBC’s journalism about Iran.”
“We call on the UN to denounce these unlawful actions in the strongest possible terms,” the pair added.
The BBC said the “targeting and intimidation” of staff had “escalated dramatically” since September 2022 following mass protests in Iran.
The appeal follows an earlier joint statement by four UN experts in 2020 in which they voiced their “alarm” at the treatment of BBC journalists and their families.
Last month, Pouria Zeraati, a UK-based presenter for Persian-language Iran International, sustained injuries to his leg after being stabbed by two assailants outside his London home.
Counter terrorism detectives are probing the assault and say his attackers went straight to Heathrow airport and left the country within hours.
A 2024 survey of BBC News Persian staff found half of the respondents said they had received online threats or been harassed online for working for the BBC.


Stabbed Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati said ‘feeling much better but recovery takes time’

Updated 16 April 2024
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Stabbed Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati said ‘feeling much better but recovery takes time’

  • Iran International presenter talked to BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday about the attack outside his home

LONDON: Stabbed Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati said Tuesday he was “feeling much better” but he is still far from fully recovering.

The Iran International presenter spoke to BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program about the attack and the toll it has taken on his life.

“I’m feeling much better physically, but as you know, mental recovery takes time,” Zeraati said, adding that “the show must go on”.

The journalist was attacked late last month outside his home in south London. He was stabbed by three men and hospitalized with injuries to his leg.

Recalling the moment of the assault, Zeraati told BBC Radio 4 that he was going to his car to head to the studio when a “suspicious” looking man approached him and asked for some change.

“He pretended to be asking for change, as I was saying, ‘excuse me I don’t have any change,’ and I was going to unlock the door, the second man approached,” he said.

“They grabbed me from the front, very strong, I couldn’t move my hands” before one of the attackers stabbed him in the leg.

The pair immediately fled in a car that was waiting to drive them to Heathrow Airport.

“I just noticed all my belongings are with me, including my mobile phones, my watch, my AirPods, my wallet with cash in it, so the moment I just saw everything is with me, I noticed this is regarding my job, because it wasn’t a robbery,” he told “Today.”

He was taken to the hospital shortly after and later discharged. He is currently staying in a safe place under police supervision.

The Metropolitan Police said the suspects had left the UK but are still investigating the reason behind the attack.

Staff of Iran International have previously been targeted by threats linked to the Iranian regime, and the dissident broadcast had been listed as a terrorist organization in Iran for its coverage of Iran’s 2022 uprising.

Iran’s charge d’affaires in the UK, which serves as the head of its diplomatic mission, has denied any link between the Iranian regime and the attack on Zeraati.

The journalist returned to work earlier this month as a way to “send the message back”.

“I’m here, the show is going on, and my audience is still watching this show,” Zeraati said.