Israel continues systematic harassment, killing of journalists

June 20, 2022 - 21:41

TEHRAN — Continuing the trend of murdering, kidnapping, threatening and harassing journalists, last Tuesday Tasnim news agency’s correspondent was kidnapped, threatened and beaten up by security forces in the West Bank. Why, you ask? Because he was doing his job, which is reporting!

Tasnim correspondent in the West Bank, Saman Ayman Khwira, recounted his abduction and threat. 

“On Tuesday evening, at around 4:30 local time, a car stopped in front of the Rafida State Hospital in Nablus and threatened me with a gun, forcing me to get in the car,” said Samir Khwira. “I was in the car when four people in the car severely beat me, insulted me and used obscene and foul words. They threatened me, saying, ‘you had no right to cover the Al-Najah University student rally, this is destroying the Fatah movement and we do not allow you to do that.’ They threatened me for about 30 to 40 minutes and finally threw me out of the car in a deserted place.”

He then narrated the last words of the kidnappers, saying, “This was the last time we spoke to you in human language, and next time, with a single bullet to the head, we're done.” 

With the rise of liberation activities and the rise of resistance in the West Bank, security forces who are working closely with the occupying Israeli regime are increasingly cracking down on Palestinian citizens. 

Dealing with student rallies, threatening journalists and so on seem to be measures taken to control the tendency of the people towards the resistance at the request of the Israeli regime.  

“I know one of the kidnappers very well,” Khwira said of the identities of those who threatened him. 

“He belonged to the Security and Prevention Organization, affiliated with the Palestinian Authority.”

Referring to the insults and threats he heard, Khwira quoted the PA-affiliated organization member as saying, “Security and Prevention Organization must punish you.”
Killing, kidnapping and threatening journalists and media persons is an old habit of the Israeli regime.

Since 2000, 35 journalists have been killed while working in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, says Reporters Without Borders. The Israeli army has never acknowledged any responsibility.

Photographer Mohammed Abed, who worked for Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Gaza for almost 30 years, collapsed while covering the "return marches," largely peaceful demonstrations along the fence separating Gaza from Israel asking for an end to the blockade and for Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. His knee was pierced by an Israeli sniper's bullet, leaving the same mark as thousands of others wounded in the enclave.

"I think journalists are targeted," said Mohammed Abed. "I was in an open area, the shooters could clearly distinguish protesters from journalists, and I was wearing a vest that said 'press'."

According to Israeli regulations, journalists have “freedom of movement, unless there is an exceptional reason to deny them access to a particular area.” While being accused of shooting and wounding a Palestinian cameraman in the West Bank in 2015, the army cleared its name by responding to a Haaretz reporter, “Unfortunately, there are bad practices among reporters who know the guidelines and, in a sense, challenge the freedom of action of the 'Israeli' forces.”

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has cited some examples of the journalists killed by the Israeli regime from 1992 to 2022: Yaser Murtaja from Ain Media, Simone Camilli from The Associated Press, Shireen Abu Akleh from Al-Jazeera, Fadel Shana from Reuters, and James Miller, a freelance reporter. 

Ironically, IDF launches an investigation when there is a claim of excessive force against any individual, and particularly against journalists, according to a military spokeswoman.

In the case of Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran Al-Jazeera correspondent who was shot in the ear despite wearing a press vest, an IDF report claimed that after a preliminary investigation and analysis of the scene, the Israeli army believes that it is possible that Abu Akleh was killed unintentionally by the army forces without prior identification.”

The report went on to claim that the aim of the operation was to arrest a wanted Islamic Jihad operative suspected of what it called “terrorist activity.”

“According to the fighters, this is not their first operation in the refugee camp in recent times, the range of shooting at them has been very unusual even compared to previous operations,” it added.

The report by the IDF claimed that the Israeli Army emphasizes that “the search for the truth in this incident is not an apology for the operational activity that will continue and does not mean that it does not support the forces that acted in the reality of professional operation!”

Similarly, the Israeli regime accused Yaser Murtaja of being a member of Islamist group Hamas, a claim denied by his family and colleagues. Even the U.S. State Department later admitted Murtaja was vetted before receiving a grant from the United States.

The army said an initial examination found “no suspicion ... which would justify the opening of a criminal investigation” in the case of Murtaja, after fooling the global community that they are launching a “thorough and transparent” investigation.

In a debate hosted by Al Jazeera in Oxford University, Mehdi Hasan - a prominent and prolific British-American political journalist and broadcaster - challenged Danny Ayalon, former Deputy Foreign Minister and a former Knesset member on the Israeli soldiers who target journalists, paramedics, and even children.

“Yaser Murtaja, 30 years old, shot in the stomach by an Israeli sniper. He was 250 meters away from the fence. Why was he shot?”

Ayalon said he came with a “harm(ful) intention.” Hasan responded by saying that he was “not Hamas, he was a journalist, and you shot him in the stomach, your country shot him in the stomach, and you claim he had a hurtful intention. That’s outrageous!”

A day will come when the global community breaks its silence over the atrocities of the Israeli regime force it to respect international law, yet, this is only achievable through unity. 


 

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