ICC must investigate Israel’s crimes against journalists

Israel injured dozens of Palestinian journalists covering the Great March of Return protests in Gaza. 

Atia Darwish APA images

Reporters Without Borders has formally requested that the International Criminal Court prosecutor investigate the targeting of journalists in Gaza as war crimes.

Targeting of journalists was “deliberate” and constitutes “war crimes,” Christophe Deloire of Reporters Without Borders said.

“The Israeli authorities could not have been unaware of the presence of journalists among the civilian demonstration.”

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate is also forming a committee of various Palestinian media outlets to prepare legal files to send to the International Criminal Court and some European courts, in regards to Israel’s targeting of journalists in Gaza, especially the killing of two reporters.

Since the beginning of the Great March of Return, Israel has killed Palestinian journalists Yaser Murtaja and Ahmad Abu Hussein, and injured more than 90, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate.

“The Israeli occupation is afraid of this lens”

Among those injured was photojournalist Yasir Qudih, whose work has frequently appeared on The Electronic Intifada.

Qudih was critically injured by live ammunition on 14 May, and was later taken to al-Makassed hospital in Jerusalem. His condition has now stabilized.

Another journalist, Motasem Dalloul, was only recently fighting for his life after being shot by the Israeli army while covering the protests on 11 May.

His condition is now moderate, al-Bawab news reported, though his cousin tweeted that he remains critical.

Another photojournalist whose photographs have frequently appeared on The Electronic Intifada, Ashraf Abu Amra was also injured while covering the protests on 15 May.

“The Israeli occupation is afraid of this lens,” he told Quds News Network. “It wants to repress this fact, it wants to blur this lens, so as to not expose its crimes.”

He continued, “Despite all the wounds and despite all the pain, we will document these crimes for the world.”

Blocking reporters from entering Gaza

Israel also stopped journalists from crossing Erez checkpoint into Gaza on 14 May, journalist Raf Sanchez noted.

“COGAT [the bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation] is saying it will be open soon but a lot of the foreign press is currently sitting on the side of the road,” Sanchez tweeted.

Erez checkpoint is the only point of passage for travelers between Gaza and Israel. Sanchez has been reporting from Gaza during the march.

Joe Dyke, another reporter in Gaza, said his colleague’s car was shot at.

Dyke also tweeted a picture of journalist Wael Dahdouh holding bullet shrapnel that struck him on the arm.

Sanchez also tweeted about how Israel deliberately targets areas with drones and teargas despite there being no activity in them.

Targeting reporters in the West Bank

Meanwhile, Palestinians are protesting in the West Bank in solidarity with marchers in Gaza, in commemoration of the Nakba and against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

Israeli forces injured Jordanian-American photographer Tanya Habjouqa with a rubber bullet during a “non-moment, standing around waiting for the circus to begin,” as she was preparing to cover the protests near the Beit El checkpoint on 15 May, according to The Art Newspaper.

“I was on the side with my camera at the beginning of the protest with cameras around my neck, so I feel I was definitely targeted though thankfully they chose not to aim for my head,” she said. “It hurts like hell and the bruise is spreading front and back.”

Habjouqa also witnessed soldiers aiming at a gas station where people were filling up their tanks with no protesters, she told the newspaper.

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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.