World Press Freedom Day coincides with continuing attacks against Palestinian journalists who are covering the Great March of Return protests launched in the Gaza Strip on 30 March 2018. To date, two journalists have been killed and another 97 have been injured by Israeli forces. Al Mezan calls for the protection of journalists and for independent and effective investigations to be conducted into the targeted killing and injury of journalists in the Gaza Strip.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that the Israeli military has used lethal and other excessive force in its response to the protests, including against journalists. Yaser Murtaja, 30, and Ahmed Abu Hussein, 24, were targeted and killed and another 97 journalists were injured, despite being marked as press. Of those injured, 23 were hit with live ammunition, one by a rubber-coated steel bullet, and 12 by tear gas cannisters. Also, 61 journalists received medical attention in temporary medical units or in hospital for breathing difficulty and syncope following the inhalation of gas. Five of them were targeted with gas a second time.
The Israeli military’s deployment of snipers to police the protests and a statement referring to the military’s “accurate” and “measured” targeting practices indicate that journalists are deliberately killed and injured. Al Mezan has documented five cases in which Israeli forces hit journalists with live ammunition in the upper body, as in the killings of Murtaja and Abu Hussein, and 12 cases in which journalists suffered fractured bones in their legs as a result of targeting, as in the case of Yousef Al-Kronz who subsequently had one leg amputated.
Al Mezan strongly condemns the attacks on Palestinian journalists, who do not pose a threat to the soldiers and who should be allowed to freely carry out their work. Unlawful killing and injury by the Israeli military are grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and war crimes under the Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Al Mezan calls on the international community to take prompt and effective steps to ensure the protection of Palestinian journalists. Years of impunity for serious international law violations allows for their repetition. The international community must therefore take concrete steps to enable independent and effective investigations into the Israeli military’s unlawful targeting practices.
Al Mezan also calls on local and international organizations and journalist unions to call for the protection of Palestinian journalists, accountability, and protection of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association of journalists.
If Not Now Org post of B’TSelem-captured tweet of “IDF Spokesperson”, available: https://twitter.com/IfNotNowOrg/status/980164393152413697