Israelis sue Al-Jazeera for allegedly aiding Hezbollah rocket attacks in Lebanon war reporting

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Israelis sue Al-Jazeera over Lebanon war reporting

JERUSALEM — A group of 91 Israelis wounded by Hezbollah rockets during the 2006 war is suing the Arab news network Al-Jazeera for $1.2 billion in a New York court for allegedly aiding the Lebanese guerrillas, their lawyer said Tuesday.

Nitzana Darshan-Leitner said the suit, which was filed Monday, claims the Qatar-based news network intentionally violated Israel’s military censorship regulations and reported the precise locations of rocket strikes in Israel in live broadcasts during the monthlong 2006 war.

The reporting enabled Hezbollah to aim its rockets more accurately at Israeli targets, the suit alleged.

There was no immediate comment from Al-Jazeera.

Hezbollah launched around 4,000 rockets into Israel during the monthlong war in 2006. The fighting killed 159 Israelis and 1,200 people in Lebanon.

“Al-Jazeera made itself a crucial component of the Hezbollah rocket offensive. The intent was to assist the terrorists in targeting and killing civilians,” said Darshan-Leitner. “Without the assistance of Al-Jazeera’s on-the-ground spotters, Hezbollah would have been unable to accurately aim its rockets into Israeli cities.”

Israel’s military censor prohibited media outlets from reporting the locations of rocket strikes during the fighting, and Israeli police detained Al-Jazeera crews several times for violating the edict and broadcasting real-time information, though no formal charges were ever filed.

The lawsuit was filed on the fourth anniversary of the start of the war.

Haim Kaplan, who was wounded in the first day of fighting and his northern Israel home damaged, said the lawsuit aimed to hold all those connected to the rocket attacks accountable.

“Anyone involved in supporting terror should pay the price and anyone who thinks about doing so should think twice,” he said.

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