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On the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Journalists: in the absence of justice and accountability, Israel continues to target journalists with impunity

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26 September 2023 |Reference 60/2023

Today, 26 September, marks the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Journalists. This occasion comes against the backdrop of continuing Israeli attacks against Palestinian journalists and media workers in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), which are fuelled by Israel's impunity and lack of accountability.

The facts on the ground indicate that for Israeli forces, Palestinian journalists are targets of direct attacks, ranging from wounding and killing, arrest and detention, confiscation, and destruction of their equipment. Israel also regularly targets Palestinian and international media outlets operating in the OPT, including by bombing and destroying their premises during military offensives, shutting down their offices, or intercepting Palestinian satellite and radio frequencies.

Since 2000, Israel has killed 48 journalists and media workers in OPT while they were doing their work. Twenty-six of them were killed in the occupied Gaza Strip, where another 339 were wounded. In the same period, in Gaza alone, Al Mezan documented over 500 violations by Israeli authorities and forces, among them 360 violations against journalists and media workers and 145 violations against media facilities. 

Earlier this year, Al Mezan commemorated the 5th anniversary of the murder of Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja, who was shot by Israeli forces on 6 April 2018 while covering the peaceful demonstrations of the Great March of Return in eastern Gaza, despite wearing a bulletproof vest and a helmet marked 'PRESS'. More than five years later, no one has been held accountable for this apparent international crime.

Yasser was the first journalist killed by Israeli forces during the Great March of Return, but not the only one. According to Al Mezan’s documentation, Israeli forces carried out 249 attacks on journalists, killing two—Yasser, and reporter Ahmed Abu Hussein, 24—and injuring 173 others, of whom 43 were injured more than once. This suggests that journalists and media workers who cover and expose the crimes committed by the Israeli authorities and forces against the Palestinian people are directly targeted by Israeli fire.

Media play a fundamental role in our society, not only as a source of information but also as a monitor of human rights abuses and violations. On the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Journalists, Al Mezan applauds the Palestinian journalists and media professionals who continue to discharge their professional and moral duties in reporting the truth. However, for them to continue to do their work, their right to freedom of opinion and expression and to seek, receive and disseminate information must be protected.

Accordingly, Al Mezan calls on the international community to act urgently and take immediate measures to provide protection to Palestinian journalists and media workers in the OPT and to act urgently to end Israel’s relentless violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Finally, for these violations to cease, the international community must strive to prosecute and hold accountable all those suspected of committing serious violations of international law, in accordance with their legal obligations.