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MADA sends a Message to a Number of Special Rapporteurs at the United Nations about the Systematic Israeli Policy of Silencing the Media in Palestine

Ramallah – November 17th, 2023. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” sent a letter to a number of United Nations rapporteurs asking them to take all measures to obtain clarifications from Israel regarding the behavior of the occupation forces in dealing with Palestinian journalists, especially after the start of the aggression on the Gaza Strip on the 7th of last October. It is including the killing of 43 journalists in the Gaza Strip (including two journalists missing since the first day of the war) and the injury of many journalists by shrapnel from bombs and missiles, in addition to the fact that many media institutions’ headquarters were bombed and completely or partially destroyed. Not to mention the direct bombing of journalists' homes, which led to the martyrdom of some or all of their family members.

During the same period, Israel launched a new campaign targeting Palestinian journalists and media outlets in the West Bank. It arrested more than 26 journalists, abused them, and committed dozens of violations against them, knowing that all of the abovementioned numbers are subject to increase on a daily basis.

MADA stated in his letter that this is not the first time that journalists and media outlets have been targeted. MADA raised this issue during an oral intervention under Item 3 of the agenda at the 38th session and within Item 7 of the 40th session of the Human Rights Council, where he called for the protection of all the rights of journalists. It presented evidence that the Israeli occupation forces are adopting an official policy not of prohibiting journalistic work, but of clearly threatening the lives of journalists. Also, it called on international efforts to do everything possible to follow up on the Israeli violations committed against Palestinian journalists, and to take legal measures that bind Israel as an occupying power. Examples and commitment to international human rights laws, especially those related to freedom of opinion and expression and media freedoms.

Through its letter to the special rapporteurs, MADA Center highlighted that targeting the Palestinian media is not a random act, but rather a systematic policy practiced by Israel, which includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Informal agreements or understandings with social media companies regarding removing posts and blocking pages, news content, and accounts related to Palestine, which is a discriminatory measure and a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression and opinion.
  • Direct attacks against journalists and media inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip), ranging from closing media outlets and radio stations and classifying them as “terrorist organizations,” which forced many journalists to abandon their careers.
  • Preventing the media services provided to companies from operating and closing them with military orders, as happened with the Al Jazeera channel office and the “J-Media” Agency, which pose a serious threat to the existence of the Palestinian media.
  • Confiscation of equipment, including cameras, mobile phones and laptops, and destruction of expensive broadcast equipment and other devices without any compensation or reparation.
  • Mass prevention of coverage, especially with many events and violations taking place on the ground, as the Israeli occupation forces prevented Palestinian journalists from covering or reaching certain areas within the West Bank.
  • Preventing journalists from traveling and impeding their rights to movement throughout the West Bank as a discriminatory measure against journalists.
  • Excessive use of force against Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip, which has led to the killing of 43 journalists so far and the disappearance of two of them.

 

Therefore, the “MADA” Center calls on the special rapporteurs at the United Nations to issue an urgent press statement in order to:

  • Condemning the deliberate behaviour of the Israeli occupation forces since October 7th, 2023 in the Gaza Strip, which has so far led to the killing of 43 Palestinian journalists and the injury of many others, as a violation of Israel’s legal obligations under international law.
  • Calling 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 in general, especially with regard to the right to life, the prohibition of collective punishment, and the right to freedom, opinion and expression, and the right to peaceful assembly.
  • Calling on Israel to stop pressuring social media giants such as Facebook, YouTube, and others to remove Palestinian content and ensure respect for Palestinian digital rights and the right to freedom of opinion and expression on the ground and on social media.
  • Calling on Israel to immediately stop discriminatory and punitive measures against Palestinian journalists in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem), including ending administrative and arbitrary detention, deportation outside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and ill-treatment, as well as to conduct and conduct an independent investigation into all such cases.
  • Calling on Israel to commit, as an occupying power, to allowing special rapporteurs access and to cooperate with their teams inside the occupied territories.
  • Call on Israel to ensure legal remedies, as an occupying power, for victims of Israeli violations of freedom of opinion and expression and access to information, ensure compensation for the loss of media outlets, service companies and journalists, and put an end to Israeli violations and the culture of impunity that Israeli enjoys.
  • The letter carried a set of signatures from Palestinian civil society organizations, in addition to the signatures of IFEX member organisations, because of their belief in the necessity of protecting Palestinian journalists from the crimes they are exposed to at the hands of the Israeli authorities and allowing them to work freely and safely.