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Head of Reporters Without Borders says Israel shot journalists intentionally

Palestinian journalist and Palestinian protesters gather during clashes with Israeli troops following a protest against the United States decision to stop funding and backing the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) at the Erez crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip on 4 September, 2018 [Dawoud Abo Alkas/Apaimages]
Israeli forces attack Palestinian journalists and protesters in the Gaza Strip on 4 September 2018 [Dawoud Abo Alkas/Apaimages]

The director-general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said yesterday that the Israeli army had deliberately targeted journalists in the occupied Gaza Strip.

Christophe Deloire was speaking to the Jerusalem Post, having received the Dan David Prize in Tel Aviv on behalf of the international press freedoms watchdog.

“It is a war crime to target journalists because they are journalists,” Deloire told the paper. “When Israel shot those journalists [during the Great Return March protests], it was intentional.”

“The journalists could be clearly identified as journalists, with cameras and jackets and it could not be just by chance,” he added.

Referring to the United Nations’ Commission of Inquiry into the Gaza protests, Deloire pointed out that the report “confirmed what we already considered a fact”.

READ: 19 Palestinian journalists are still imprisoned by Israel

According to the Jerusalem Post, last week RSF formally asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate suspected war crimes by the Israeli military against Palestinian journalists covering protests in Gaza since 30 March 2018.

Palestinian Journalists Arrested by Israel - Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

Palestinian Journalists Arrested by Israel – Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

At the time, Deloire stated that “the Israeli authorities could not have been unaware of the presence of journalists among the civilian demonstrators, and therefore failed in the elementary duty of precaution and differentiation when targeting these protected persons with live rounds.”

“These deliberate and repeated violations of international humanitarian law constitute war crimes,” the statement continued.

The RSF chief also had a warning for Israelis about deteriorating press freedoms at home.

“I am sure it does not happen in many countries that you have billboards with faces of journalists mentioning that they will not decide,” Deloire told the paper, a reference to Likud election posters.

Deloire also criticised the prohibition on Israeli journalists entering the Gaza Strip, and added: “There is freedom in Israel… but editorial independence is not guaranteed.”

Israel’s war against press freedom: The plight of Palestinian journalists

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