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Online Panel: Israeli Escalated Violations against Palestinian Journalists

Global Rights Watch (GRW) held an online panel on the Israeli crimes against Palestinian journalists in violation of international and humanitarian conventions amid total impunity.

The panel was held on Wed. June 29, 2022 amid the participation of a number of Palestinian journalists who were personally subjected to Israeli attacks. The event shed light on Israeli different violations against journalists and media institutions.

The discussion was directed by Ms. Sherine Al-Khatib – Program Manager at Mada Media Centre, amid the participation of the journalist Ahmed Melhem, of Watan News Agency, the journalist Hafez Abu Saber, of Roya News TV, and Ms. Aziza Nofal of Reporters Without Borders.

The journalist Ahmed Melhem started the discussion, shedding light on the Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists, including killing, as happened with the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, ill-treatment, physical assault and security prosecution.

Melhem pointed out that 800 Israeli violations against media workers were carried out in the occupied Palestinian territories since the start of 2021.

He further said that a journalist was killed while several others were injured during 2021 Gaza war. Several media offices were also targeted and  destroyed during the aggression.

Journalists are also subjected to administrative detention policy, according to which they are held without charge or trial for an indefinite period of time, which was the case of the journalist Nidal Abu Aker whose administrative detention was renewed more than once after a 23-month detention, Melhem added.

Melhem further pointed out that 75 violations were reported against the Palestinian content on social media since the start of the year.

Melhem stressed that impunity gives a green light to more Israeli crimes against journalists and media institutions, saying that a lawsuit has been submitted two months ago to the International Criminal Court over these violations, which needs an Arab and international support to hold Israel accountable for its crimes.

For his part, the journalist Hafez Abu Sabra dealt with the Israeli ongoing violations of the international conventions, where journalists continued to be targeted despite clearly wearing the press vest. Such violations target all media workers, including editors, reporters, photographers, and even those working in major press and media institutions, he continued.

Abu Sabra further pointed to the Israeli tight restrictions on media coverage especially during the last war on Gaza, in an attempt to add credibility to the Israeli narrative of the events in total violation of the international laws and the people’s inalienable right to know the truth.

Abu Sabra also stressed the urgent need to provide social protection for local journalists who are at risk of arrest during their media work.

Media institutions should provide their media workers with their social protection rights, he added.

Abu Sabra hailed the Palestinian journalists’ leading work in translating the Palestinian voices into the world in comparison to the high budgets allocated to the Israeli media to influence the world public opinion.

He further pointed out that the Palestinian journalists are subjected to several restrictions on a daily basis, including movement restrictions, targeting Palestinian content on social media, and dismissing journalists under the pretext of anti-Semitism.

In her turn, the journalist Aziza Nofal of Reporters Without Borders dealt with the violations subjected to female journalists, including arrests, summons, and travel bans.

Nofal also stressed the need to protect journalists who work on online websites or those working in small media institutions who do not have the ability to purchase press suits and means of protection during field coverage.

She further pointed to the independent journalists, or freelances, who are denied of the basic labour rights in case of illness or death.

 Nofal went on saying that Reporters Without Borders and many other media centres are conducting training courses for journalists to take preventive measures during field coverage, including standing in a neutral area and wearing press uniform.

Recommendations:

– Defending journalists and media institutions subjected to violations against their acquired freedoms and rights; confronting abusive measures; preventing any persecution of freedom of expression and media freedoms.

– Taking the necessary personnel preventive measures, including wearing a blue vest identifying the person as a press member, voluntary evacuation to safe places, legal protection, and all the necessary precautions.

– Ensuring health care and social protection for media workers.

– Activating the media role in holding Israel accountable for its crimes against journalists.

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