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Warnings of ‘terrible massacre’ planned by Israel against journalists

May 17, 2021 at 10:44 am

Israel decimates building housing foreign media in Gaza [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

The occupation forces continue to deliberately target Palestinian media institutions after destroying Al-Jalaa Tower, which houses international media offices including Al-Jazeera and the Associated Press. Thus, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) warned of a “terrible massacre” that Israel plans against journalists.

The PJS called on the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to urgently intervene and provide protection for journalists who could be the victims of “war crimes” and direct targeting.

Israeli Attacks on Press - Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

Israeli Attacks on Press – Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

Head of the PJS Nasser Abu Bakr confirmed that the syndicate is communicating with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Federation of Arab Journalists, the unions, regional media, and human rights institutions to help exert pressure on Guterres to take action and protect journalists from crimes and aggression.

The PJS indicated that the occupation forces committed more than 100 violations, adding that the bombing of Al-Jalaa Tower is a clear and blatant targeting of journalists’ lives to cover up Israel’s crimes against children and civilians.

The PJS also indicated that the occupation authorities had been assaulting journalists in the West Bank and the occupied territories by directly firing ammunition, tear gas, and sound bombs at them.

Al-Jalaa Tower houses the offices of many media institutions, most notably Al-Jazeera, Associated Press, and local radio stations.

The PJS warned of a “terrible massacre” against Palestinian journalists at the hands of the occupation forces. The syndicate stressed that the daily targeted attempts by Israeli soldiers and settlers against journalists clearly indicate that the occupation authorities are planning to commit more crimes to prevent media coverage of the ongoing military operation and hide their atrocities from the world.

READ: Israel ‘deliberately targeting’ Palestinian journalists, media body says

The PJS considers that bombing the headquarters of dozens of Palestinian, Arab, and international media organisations, and opening fire on journalists directly and intentionally in Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank, are: “Premeditated occupation crimes that international law considers as war crimes.” These attacks resulted in the injuries of more than 50 journalists during the past days and have prevented media coverage, threatened journalists, and destroyed their equipment.

The PJS praised the decision of the IFJ, which called for holding Israel accountable for its crimes against Palestinian journalists and urged all journalists’ unions and syndicates all over the world to participate in an international campaign against these crimes. The PJS also pressed to demand governments and UN bodies to intervene and condemn the recent attacks in Palestine.

The PJS hailed the remarkably professional role played by: “The knights of truth – all Palestinian, Arab and international media institutions that cover the aggression to which our Palestinian people have been exposed, which they carry out in light of all these dangers and the threat to their lives by the occupation army and settlers.”

The PJS asked all media organisations and journalists to document attacks on journalists via video footage and photographs and submit them to the syndicate as soon as possible while urging journalists to follow all safety measures taking utmost precautions during field coverage.

The government media office in Gaza in a statement condemned the occupation’s bombing of Al-Jalaa Tower in the centre of the city, stating: “The bombing of Al-Jalaa Tower is a new crime committed by the occupation against press crews and media institutions, where the headquarters of international and local media institutions are located, most notably Al-Jazeera.”

READ: Indian press associations condemn Israeli attack on media offices in Gaza

The statement advocated for cancelling the occupation’s membership to all forums concerned with freedom of expression and human rights and demanded the announcement of the formation of an international commission to investigate Israel’s crimes against journalists. The statement also called on international organisations concerned with freedom of expression to take practical steps to exert pressure on Israel to stop its attacks against media workers who are protected under international law.

The PJS emphasised that the occupation’s policy of targeting media institutions is deliberate and systematic and aims to: “Hide evidence of the occupation’s crimes against our people, journalists, and the media, and to prevent the true story of the occupier’s crimes in the Gaza Strip from being revealed.”

The PJS also warned of fake social media pages bearing the names and logos of well-known media outlets with the intention of spreading misleading information or unfounded rumours. In addition, other pages and accounts bearing Palestinian names were created aiming to cause discord between the resistance factions.