Today marks World Press Freedom Day, but many Palestinian journalists languish in Israeli jails, according to Jamal Dajani, Director of Strategic Communications and Media at the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Israel’s systematic assault on Palestinian journalists and media institutions is part of a broader campaign to instill fear and silence an entire population. Today, freedom of expression has become grounds for arrest, under the Israeli pretext of incitement. Israel wants to stop Palestinians from reporting on Israeli human rights violations; Israel doesn’t want the world to know the real facts on the ground, ” added Dajani.
At least 20 journalists and media students, including one woman, are in Israeli jails; many of them are being held under administrative detention without being charged with any crime or having gone through trial. The number of Palestinians in administrative detention reached 627 at the end of February, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. In the month of April alone, 42 Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists and media outlets have been documented.
A recent report by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) has called for human rights groups and international bodies to intervene in order to stop Israel’s attacks on media freedom. CPJ also accused Israel of exposing Palestinian journalists to danger by banning the import of bulletproof vests and other safety equipment. Palestinian journalists are regularly exposed to tear gas attacks during their coverage of events and are constantly harassed by Israeli settlers.
World Press Freedom Day is sponsored by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). It is intended to highlight the importance of a free and independent media.