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IFJ urges UN to act against ‘systematic’ Israeli attacks on media workers in occupied lands

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli forces arrest Al Jazeera journalist, Givara Budeiri, during a protest in the East Jerusalem al-Quds neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, on June 5, 2021. (Photo by AP)

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has deplored the systematic attacks on journalists working in occupied Palestinian territories by the Israeli military, urging the United Nations to adopt proper measures against the Tel Aviv regime’s crimes against media freedom.

Addressing the 47th session of the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva via video link, Jennifer Robinson, legal counsel to the IFJ and its affiliate the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), emphasized that the Israeli military deliberately targets media workers and their facilities in Palestinian lands.

“Since 2000, more than 46 journalists have been killed, and no one has been held to account. With ongoing impunity, the targeting continues,” she said.

Robinson added that Israeli forces bombed the 11-story al-Jalaa building, housing international media offices including the Associated Press news agency bureau and Al Jazeera television news network in the Gaza Strip, last month.

Robinson, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, further highlighted that at least 2 journalists were killed and another 100 injured in separate incidents.

She urged the United Nations Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression and opinion, Irene Khan, to act on the IFJ’s complaint submitted last December.

The complaint, lodged on behalf of four victims identified as Ahmed Abu Hussein, Yaser Murtaja, Muath Armaneh and Nedal Eshtayet, details the systematic targeting of journalists by Israeli troops.

The quartet were either killed or maimed by Israeli snipers, while covering demonstrations near the border fence between the besieged Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied territories. All were wearing vests imprinted with the word ‘PRESS’ clearly on them at the time they were shot.

“The international community and the UN’s Human Rights Council depend upon accurate and impartial reporting from journalists on the ground. The targeting of journalists and media organizations in Palestine prevents this essential reporting. This targeting must stop and those responsible must be held accountable,” Robinson said.

She called upon the UN Special Rapporteur, the Human Rights Council and the international community to raise concern with the Israeli regime about the protection of journalists in Palestine.

The destruction of the al-Jalaa building during the 11-day offensive on the Gaza Strip was widely regarded as a brazen attempt to silence journalists covering Israel’s military attacks. Israel bombed the offices of at least 18 media outlets in less than a week.

Last month, Israeli forces assaulted Al Jazeera journalist Givara Budeiri during her arrest and destroyed equipment belonging to Al Jazeera cameraman Nabil Mazzawi.

Budeiri was reporting on a sit-in marking the 54th anniversary of the Naksa (setback), a term Palestinians use to describe the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem al-Quds, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967.

According to Reporters Without Borders, at least 14 Palestinian journalists have been arrested and placed in administrative detention by Israeli forces in recent weeks.

Administrative detention is a sort of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months, extendable for an infinite number of times.

Some prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years without any charges brought against them.

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