European groups call for an international campaign to condemn Israeli escalation against Palestinian journalists

GENEVA, Five European organizations said on Wednesday that they are deeply concerned due to the escalation of Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists in the West Bank, which witnessed a significant increase last July, according to a press release.

Eight Palestinian journalists were arrested during the last 10 days increasing the number of detained journalists to 23, including four female journalists.

The organizations, the European Coalition of Palestinian Prisoners’ Rights and Skyline International Foundation, Salam International Organization for the protection of Human Rights�SPH, Association of Victims of Torture in Tunisia, Geneva�A.V.T.T and Free Voice � France, called for an international campaign to condemn the Israeli escalation against Palestinian journalists.

They sent a letter to David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, as well as several international organizations specialized in defending journalists such as Reporters Without Borders, Frontline Defenders and the Civil Rights Defenders.

They also launched a campaign on social media on Wednesday to tweet about the targeting of Palestinian journalists by Israel and to share information and videos about them.

The organizations also called on journalists and human rights defenders in the world, Arab and non-Arab media outlets and all human rights activists to interact with the campaign and to use their own hashtags in Arabic and English to express their rejection to the Israeli procedures against journalists that aim at restricting the Palestinian freedom of expression.

The organizations strongly condemned the deliberate attacks against journalists by the Israeli occupation authorities, warning of the impact of these attacks on the freedom of press and of expression.

Over the past month, the teams of the organizations have documented more than 95 violations against journalists and media outlets in the Palestinian territories. More than two-thirds of the violations took place in the West Bank. The violations included arrests, shooting live ammunition and tear gas at journalists, confiscating and destroying their equipment, beating journalists, and preventing them from practicing their work in an attempt to intimidate them.

The Israeli occupation authorities arrested four journalists in the West Bank on July 30. They included Alaa Rimawi, director of Ramallah office of Al-Quds Satellite Channel who is now on hunger strike for the tenth day in a row, and Qutaiba Hamdan, as well as Muhammad Anwar Muna, who was arrested on August 1, and Lama Khater, who was severely investigated at the Asqalan Investigation Center. Two journalists were released, namely, Iyad Hashlamoun and Hassan Shaalan.

According to the families of the detained journalists, the interrogation with them would last for long hours and was conducted on the basis of their work.

In May, the Israeli occupation forces committed at least 106 violations against 92 journalists and media outlets, according to the Palestinian Information Ministry. Seventeen cases of violation were closed last year according to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA).

“The right to opinion and expression is an essential part of all human rights guaranteed in international covenants and violating it is a flagrant contradiction to the international law and the charter of the United Nations and the principles of democratic countries of the world,” the organizations said in a statement.

During the first half of the year, the organizations documented hundreds of Israeli violations against journalists in the West Bank, as well as in the Gaza Strip, where journalists faced many violations.

The organizations considered the policies of the Israeli occupation against journalists a disregard of the laws that ensure the protection of journalists and forbids exposing them to violations due to their press background, considering that the Israeli policy is a clear violation of freedoms of the Palestinian press institutions.

They called for putting pressure on the Israeli government to stop its violations against journalists and press, and to allow them to express their views without threat or intimidation, without being subjected to arrest and continuing prosecution.

The organizations also called for the intervention of the international community particularly the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, to force Israel to respect the freedom of expression guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and to stop its violations against Palestinian journalists.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency