MADA submits letter to UN special procedures on Israeli policy to silence media in Palestine

PNN/ Ramallah/

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms MADA submitted a communication report to UN special procedures on Israel’s attack against Palestinian journalists, the letter was delivered to three different special Rapporteurs of the UN calling them to take all measures to obtain clarifications from Israel in relation to the conduct of its occupying forces and including the killing of two journalists in Gaza Strip and targeting tens of journalists with live ammunition demanding them to investigate the incidents of excessive use of force, besides, the attack against media outlets, service provider companies and the recent arrest of at least 7 journalists in West Bank.This was not the first time that Israel targets media outlets, as Israel previously targeted several media outlets and service provider companies; which MADA previously raised this issue through an oral intervention to the Human Rights Council back in its 37th regular session under agenda item 7, and hinted the concern that Israel has moved to a whole new level by targeting service provider companies to ensure the complete silence of the Palestinian media and hinder the access to information for Palestinians and any other internationals who are interested in the Palestinian cause by targeting the infrastructure of media.[1]

MADA highlighted in its letter that targeting Palestinian media is not a random act but rather a systematic policy practiced by Israel that involves but not limited to the following:

Direct and systematic attacks against journalists and media outlets inside the occupied Palestinian Territory (West Bank/ Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem), that range from killing journalists, deliberately targeting them with live ammunition, prevention of coverage, threatening and detaining journalists, shutting down media outlets TVs , radio stations confiscation and destruction of equipment, besides, the fact that many journalists were forced to abandon their career due to the physical or psychological consequences of the attacks.

Prohibiting media service provider companies and shutting them down with military orders, similarly, to what happened to Transmedia, Pal-media, Ram-sat and recently with Al Bashir Pro-media production, these policies impose a real alarming threat against the Palestinian media in general and destruct the ability of media outlets to continue operating and performing their duties professionally .
Confiscation of equipment including cameras, mobiles, laptops and the destruction broadcast equipment and other devices that costs thousands of dollars without any compensation or reparation.
As an unprecedented measure Israel announced two media outlets (Aqsa and Al Quds TVs) terrorist organizations and issued a decision to ban them from operating inside Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, which is an alarming step reveals the deliberate intentions to silence media.
Mass prevention of coverage, several events and violations were taking place on grounds with IOF banning and preventing Palestinian Journalists from covering or accessing certain areas inside the oPt.
Banning from travel and right to movement, many journalists were banned from travel or even movement across the West Bank as discriminatory measure against journalists.
The recent attacks against Palestinian Journalists in Gaza Strip, killing two journalists and injuring hundreds with live ammunition and targeting them directly with gas bombs (that has been proven to have unknown chemical components) reveals the excessive use of force against journalists who not only were clearly identifiable with their press vests but also located hundreds of meters away from the border fence, and did not impose any imminent threat against Israeli snipers, a clear breach of international law.

Unofficial Agreements or understandings with Facebook on removing contents from Facebook a discriminatory measure and a clear breach of the right to freedom of expression and opinion on social media, moreover, Israel insists to undermine international law through the enactment of a law to prevent civilians including journalists from covering events in times of militants performing their duties, such acts raises concerns on the fact of suppressing any witnesses of Israeli violations against Palestinians in general.

These all are some forms of the Israeli measures that aim to shut down any Palestinian voice through shutting down media outlets, service provider companies, physically assaulting and threatening Palestinian journalists.

MADA called on the relevant United Nations special procedure mandates to issue an urgent press release to Condemn the Israeli Occupying Forces’ premeditated attacks conducted since Friday, 30 March 2018, in the Gaza Strip that led to the killing of 2 Palestinian journalists and the injury of over a hundred journalists, as a violation of Israel’s legal obligations under the international law.

MADA also called on Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip, and the Occupied Palestinian Territory at large, especially in relation to the right to life, the prohibition of collective punishment, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right of peaceful assembly, to stop pressuring social media giants (Facebook, YouTube etc) on removing Palestinian contents and ensure respect of Palestinians’ digital rights, and Freedom of opinion and expression both in reality and on social media, and to immediately end discriminatory and punitive measures against Palestinian journalists in the OPT (including East Jerusalem) in both law and practice, including administrative and arbitrary detention, deportation of prisoners including journalists outside the oPt, ill treatment.

In addition, it called on Israel to commit as an occupying power to allowing access to the Special Rapporteurs and cooperate with their teams, and to ensure legal redress as an occupying power for those victims of violations of freedoms of opinion and expression and access to information and ensure reparation for loses journalists and media outlets faced due to confiscation and destruction of equipment, service and put an end to the culture of impunity enjoyed by Israel.