Remember the Reuters news vehicle that was fired upon, but not directly hit by an Israeli helicopter gunship while acting suspiciously near Israeli positions in Gaza?
The Israeli Government Press Office is now stating that they believe armored vehicles licensed to news agencies, such as the Reuters vehicle attacked, might be being used by terrorist groups to launch attacks against Israel:
Armored vehicles that were given to foreign news agencies operating in the country with the authorization of the State of Israel, may be used by hostile groups to carry out terror attacks against Israel, Director of the Government Press Office Danny Seaman warned in a letter addressed to Shin Bet Head Yuval Diskin.
On August 27 an Israel Defense Forces helicopter hit an armored vehicle that belonged to the Reuters news agency in Gaza. According to
Seaman, the incident illustrated the failures in overseeing the use of armored vehicles granted to the foreign media agencies with the permission of the State.
The vehicle's presence in Gaza in itself constituted a violation of its license terms, and moreover, the jeep was carrying only Palestinians – one with links to Hamas who was not a Reuters employee.
Licenses for armored vehicles are granted by the State to foreign news agencies in Israel for the purpose of carrying out journalistic missions in the West Bank and Gaza. The State has even agreed to extend the permits for more than the one year stipulated by the law, on the condition that the license holder is a foreign national and that he alone will drive the car.
"To the best of our knowledge, all of the vehicles' owners have been violating the conditions for a long time now, despite our requests. This is not the first time we are warning that these vehicles will be used by hostile agents to carry out a terror attack against Israel. The recent incident in Gaza only illustrates the danger," Seaman wrote the Shin Bet chief.
In more direct terms, Israel is saying that the Reuters news vehicle was not being operated by newsmen, but terrorists using the vehicle as a sort of "Trojan horse." The press office is directly stating that those injured were not newsmen, but likely terrorists.
As one of the injured non-journalists was a Iranian, we have to ask if this could be considered as an act of war by Iran against Israel.
My gut says "yes." Mein darm also says Israel won't take direct action against Iran.
What hangs in the air as an interesting possibility is the very much implied threat that Israel might very well yank licenses for armored vehicles from news services for violation of the terms of their licenses. Allowing the vehicles to be used for terrorist transportation and attacks would obviously constitute a serious breach of contract.
We've long suspected that international news agencies have been sympathetic to the cause of terrorism. The Israeli Government Press Office is now stating publicly that they believe it as well.Update: photos added. Thanks to reader "yet to use" for the tip.
Cross-posted at Confederate Yankee.