Palestinian Journalists Face Severe Repercussions for Exposing Israeli Oppression
Only Palestinian voices can communicate the emotions of highly sensitive Palestine stories that never make it into the mainstream press.
Palestinian journalists suffer for exposing Israeli oppression. Their work is vital to Palestinian justice, freedom, and fair media coverage. On 19 January, the Israeli military detained Palestinian journalist Abdul Muhsen Shalaldeh during one of its frequent incursions in the West Bank. This was a terrible total of recent atrocities against Palestinian journalists and freedom of expression. However, the violence inflicted on Palestinian journalists is not limited to physical and material suffering.
In addition, they are continually exposed to a very subtle but equally dangerous threat, the ongoing delegitimization of their work. Last year, journalists covering Palestine encountered terrible and deadly scenarios. As indicated in a report by Al Mayadeen, violence against the press occurs in several "democratic" countries under occupation by "Israel", and the year 2022 has the largest casualty count. It was a year of human rights breaches, detentions, censorship, and indiscriminate killing. Moreover, attacks against journalists have increased in intensity and brutality over the last several years.
The tendency is frightening, and journalists are targeted specifically for attacks and killings due to their line of work. Likewise, despite being recognized as a journalist, the Israeli military killed Shireen Abu Akleh in the Occupied West Bank last year. Similarly, in June of 2022, Israeli forces assassinated Palestinian journalist Ghofran Warasna on her first day reporting on a local radio station. They also invaded her funeral.
Even though the deaths of Shireen and journalist Ghofran Warasna caused Palestinians pain, these were not isolated incidents. RSF reports that at least 30 journalists have been killed by Israeli security personnel since 2000, including foreign journalists. However, the majority of them, like Shireen, were Palestinian. In addition to killings, the Israeli government has frequently subjected Palestinian journalists to several human rights breaches, including detention, equipment damage, and physical assaults.
Similarly, MADA, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, said that Palestinian journalist infractions increased over the last decade. In its 2021 annual report, MADA identified 368 Israeli offences against Palestinian journalists.
Over the years, Palestinian journalists have been targeted, arrested, intimidated, and had their equipment damaged. In recent years, travel restrictions have increased for journalists, perhaps as punishment for their reporting. As Euro-Med reported, the limitations against Palestinian journalists escalated during and after particular political or security incidents and in combination with their posting stories, images, or videos on conventional or social media recording Israeli crimes or criticizing Israeli policy.
Moreover, Israeli restrictions on Palestinian journalists' travel extend beyond the Palestinian territories. Journalists who travel abroad may be denied entry to the Palestinian territories or have their right to return restricted. Additionally, "Israel" has forced the closure or outright destruction of Palestinian news media organizations, depriving them of financial resources and staff jobs. Travel restrictions limit journalists' earning potential, undermine their right to work, and, in certain cases, remove their ability to work since some media and press organizations prefer to work with persons with total freedom of movement. These limitations also hinder journalists' work within and beyond the Palestinian territories and prohibit them from reaching various towns and places.
Notably, Journalists pay a heavy price for not having access to quality medical care. Since they can't leave the Palestinian territory to obtain medical treatment, journalists reporting such circumstances are in a dilemma. Moreover, journalists are not permitted to study abroad, even if they have scholarships or chances. Travel restrictions compel people who can't take these opportunities to pass.
Furthermore, "Israel" forces these journalists to abandon their right to freedom of expression in exchange for allowing them to exercise their other rights when journalists are compelled to cease their journalistic activity or refrain from discussing particular topics in exchange for the end of their prosecution and travel ban.
Despite all the efforts of the Israeli government to silence Palestinian voices, journalism is more than a profession. The obligation to share the story with the world exists. Those who pay the price for their profession are still fighting for the freedom of Palestinian journalists to report freely and continue working on the ground. The persecution of media outlets and outlets in Palestine violates the right to life and the freedom of speech. These offenses need a thorough investigation.
Most importantly, the Palestinians must be at the center of the Palestinian narrative in all its manifestations. Only Palestinian voices can communicate the emotions of highly sensitive Palestine stories that never make it into the mainstream press. Even when such reports get through, they typically lack context and often ignore the Palestinians. Targeting journalists in crisis zones anywhere in the world is illegal, and those who attempt to conceal their crimes and violations by killing or injuring journalists must face severe consequences. The international community should send a strong message to states that advance their interests via war crimes that they will not enjoy impunity and will be held accountable for their crimes promptly.