Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
التضامن الإيرلندي الفلسطيني

Report says Israel has killed 20 journalists in 22 years; no one has ever been held accountable

Ahead of the first anniversary of the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli military, the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) this week released a report detailing the killings of 20 journalists by Israeli forces over the past 22 years. As with the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, shot dead in the West Bank on May 11th 2022, the report reveals that no one has ever been held accountable for any of these deaths.

The report states Israel’s reaction to Shireen’ Abu Akleh’s killing is “part of a deadly decades-long pattern”.

The report said Israel responded to all 20 killings using a standard playbook, including pre-emptive denials of responsibility, discounting contrary evidence and witness testimony, and opaque internal investigations that never lead to charges or accountability.

Commenting specifically on the case of Shireen Abu Akleh, Robert Mahoney of the CPJ stated that “The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh illustrated everything that is wrong with this process. Starting with misleading or false narratives put out immediately that were slowly walked back until we reached the point, five months later, when the results of the IDF’s internal probe said there was a high probability that IDF forces accidentally shot Shireen.”

Of the 20 journalist deaths the CPJ investigated, 18 were Palestinian, one was British, and one was Italian. In all but one of the cases, the journalists were killed while on assignment.

“Journalists are civilians under international law, and as such militaries must take steps to safeguard them during hostilities,” the CPJ report states. In responding to the CPJ report, Israeli officials assert that Israel “does not target journalists.” Israel, however, has never put a soldier on trial for the killing of a journalist.

The CPJ report states that such killings undermine press freedom and that the lack of accountability has created a more dangerous reporting environment.

According to Guillaume Lavallée, chairman of the Foreign Press Association in Israel, “Many reporters covering similar raids and tensions — which have risen markedly since Shireen’s killing — are afraid of being shot. If a reporter with an American passport can be killed without legal consequence, journalists fear a similar fate could easily await them in the future. That feeling of vulnerability is particularly strong among our Palestinian colleagues.”

Some of the CPJ report’s other key findings include the fact that Israel discounts evidence and witnesses; Israeli forces have failed to respect press insignia; Palestinian journalists have been falsely accused of terrorism; inquiries are rare (especially in the case of Palestinian victims), slow and not transparent; and that families of journalists have little recourse to justice.

Zoe Lawlor, Chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) commented that “This report is a chilling indictment of Apartheid Israel’s appalling treatment of journalists. We in the IPSC fully endorse the CPJ’s recommendations, particularly for the international community to hold Israel accountable to its international obligations to protect the safety of the press, and for ending impunity for crimes against journalists in Palestine. This ongoing lack of accountability ensures that the Israeli occupation forces’ killing and endangerment of journalists will continue unabated – action is needed.”

The full report can be read on the CPJ Website here.

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