Twenty Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have jointly censured the Tel Aviv regime’s repressive measures against members of the press in the occupied Palestinian territories, calling on Israeli authorities to ensure the freedom of movement of Palestinian journalists.
The legislators co-signed a petition organized by independent and Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (commonly known as Euro-Med Monitor) as well as Reporters Without Borders (RSF), expressing serious concern over Israel’s use of arbitrary restrictions, such as travel bans, detentions or home break-ins, against Palestinian reporters and correspondents.
“Such measures pose a serious threat to the independence of Palestinian journalism and to freedom of speech and expression in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the petition read.
The MEPs called on Israel to abolish all arbitrary travel bans against Palestinian journalists in the besieged Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds, and “cease any other forms of harassment, intimidation, or blackmail against them.”
Moreover, the lawmakers demanded that Israel carries out “a transparent and independent investigation into incidents in which Israeli officers threatened to deny Palestinian journalists their right to travel unless they provided the Israeli intelligence service with required information.”
The petition comes after Euro-Med Monitor released a report last November entitled “Punishing Journalists: Israel's Restrictions on Freedom of Movement.”
The report documented Palestinian journalists’ assertions that Israeli authorities had heavily restricted their freedom of movement between the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East al-Quds as a form of punishment or bargaining chip.
It also exposed how Israeli troops have used travel bans to force Palestinian journalists into collaborating against fellow Palestinians or to refrain from working with certain media outlets or reporting on certain topics.
Some journalists said that they endured various forms of intimidation and harassment, including home raids, arbitrary detention and harsh interrogations, after refusing to accommodate Israeli authorities' demands.
On January 22, a non-profit organization representing journalists, writers and broadcasters said more than a dozen Palestinian journalists were being held in harsh conditions in Israeli jails in contradiction to international law, denouncing the regime for practicing “organized terrorism” to silence Palestinian media.
The Journalists’ Support Committee (JSC) said in a statement that seven of the 17 Palestinian journalists have already been sentenced, while five others are being incarcerated under the so-called “administrative” detention — a policy under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli detention facilities without trial or charge.
The journalists’ rights group added that five members of the press in the occupied territories are awaiting their verdicts as well.
There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians held at Israeli jails. Hundreds of the inmates have been apparently incarcerated without charge or trial.
Palestinians and human rights groups say “administrative detention” violates the right to due process since evidence is withheld from prisoners while they are held for lengthy periods without being charged, tried, or convicted.
The detention takes place on orders from a military commander and on the basis of what the Israeli regime describes as ‘secret’ evidence.
Rights groups describe Israel’s use of “administrative detention” as a “bankrupt tactic” and have long called on the regime to bring the practice to an end.