Press Releases

Justice Denied: Six Years After Israeli Sniper Killed Gaza Journalist Ahmed Abu Hussein, Nobody Has Been Held Accountable

    Share :

25 April 2024

Gaza, 25 April 2024 — Since the beginning of Israel’s genocidal military campaign against Gaza, at least 140 Palestinian journalists or media workers have been killed, according to the Government Media Office in Gaza. Yet, Israel’s deliberate targeting and killing of journalists predates the ongoing genocide, highlighting a longstanding pattern of persecution. To understand the current onslaught against Palestinian journalists and media workers in Gaza, it is necessary to contexualize it within years of attacks and harassment by Israeli forces against them.

Between 2000 and September 2023, in Gaza alone, Al Mezan documented over 500 human rights violations perpetrated by Israeli authorities and forces against journalists, media workers and facilities. During the Great March of Return (GMR) demonstrations in Gaza between 2018 and 2019, Israeli forces carried out 249 attacks on journalists, killing two Palestinian journalists while reporting—Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein—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. A UN Inquiry established to investigate Israel's violations of international law during the Great March of Return concluded that there were "reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot journalists [...] knowing they were clearly recognizable as such."

Today, 25 April 2024, marks the sixth anniversary of the murder of Ahmed Abu Hussein. Al Mezan meticulously documented his killing, pursued his case within the Israeli military judicial system, and advocated for accountability through international mechanisms.

On 13 April 2018, Israeli snipers opened fire at Ahmed Abu Hussein, a 24-year-old journalist working for both Bisan News Agency and Al Sha’ab Radio, while he was covering the Great March of Return weekly demonstrations in East Jabalyia, northern Gaza. He was shot in the abdomen and critically wounded. Abu Hussein was wearing a vest unambiguously marked with the word ‘PRESS’ and a helmet marked with ‘T.V.’ when he was shot. After being shot, Abu Hussein underwent medical treatment at multiple hospitals in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Israel. On 25 April 2018, doctors at Tal HaShomer Hospital in Israel pronounced him dead as a result of the critical stomach wounds he had sustained on 13 April 2018.

Based on all facts and the investigation conducted by Al Mezan, we found that the killing of Abu Hussein could amount to the war crime of wilful killing.

The day after his death, on 26 April 2018, Al Mezan requested the Military Advocate General (MAG) Corps—a unit within the Israeli army tasked with enforcing the rule of law within the military—to open a criminal investigation into the killing. Three days later, the MAG confirmed the receipt of the case and subsequently referred it to the army’s Fact-Finding Assessment Mechanism (FFAM).

Over the years, we have forwarded our documentation and investigative materials to the MAG, along with numerous reminders regarding the case. On 24 May 2020, the MAG closed the file. No one has been convicted or held accountable for the murder of Abu Hussein.

 For years, Al Mezan has engaged in good faith with the Israeli judicial system—both the MAG and the civil court system—and has concluded that this system is demonstrably unwilling to conduct genuine and meaningful investigations within the standards of international law into alleged crimes involving Palestinian victims. The systemic impunity deeply rooted in the Israeli judicial system underscores the need for international mechanisms, such as the International Criminal Court, or third countries in the exercise of universal jurisdiction, to take action to hold the Israeli authorities accountable for their crimes and bring justice to Palestinian victims.

The utter impunity that has followed the murders of Abu Hussein and Mortaja, of Shireen Abu Akleh and dozens of other Palestinian journalists who have been murdered by Israeli forces in the past years, has contributed to turning Gaza into the deadliest place in the world for journalists and media workers. In the pursuit of accountability, Israel's widespread and systematic attacks on Palestinian journalists and media workers shoud be investigated as the crime against humanity of persecution.

Today, as we commemorate the sixth anniversary of the death of Ahmed Abu Hussein, we call on the ICC Prosecutor to put an end to Israel's ongoing impunity by taking decisive action to hold the killers of Abu Hussein accountable, as well as to prevent the commission of further atrocities against Palestinian journalists and media workers in Gaza at the hands of the Israeli military. This includes the immediate issuance of arrest warrants for the highest levels of the Israeli leadership responsible for the most heinous crimes committed in Gaza not just over the past six months, but since 2014, including during the Great March of Return.