Online only: updated 16/05/21

End crimes against journalists and civilians!

THE INTERNATIONAL Federation of Journalists' General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, stated on 10 May that "The IFJ joins the United Nations in condemning the systematic Israeli violence towards Palestinian civilians and media workers. We urge the international community to take action to stop and punish the crimes against Palestinian journalists." This statement followed Israeli police "assaulting, beating, and firing stun grenades at Palestinian media workers."

These media workers were reporting events that followed attempts to evict Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem and hand their houses to settlers.

On the night of 11 May "the Israeli military bombed the Al-Jawhara tower, located in Gaza, which hosts the offices of 13 media institutions and NGOs," as a further IFJ statement put it on 12 May. The Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate (trade union) said that the attack was "deliberate and targeted": "there were no injuries as journalists evacuated their offices after the Israeli army warned some of the media that the building would be bombed." However, media organisations lost their equipment. The IFJ said that "the Israeli government must compensate the media for their financial losses."

The NUJ amplified this IFJ statement today, 13 May.

The bombing of Gaza followed rocket attacks on Israeli territory launched from Gaza. The Hamas party that controls Gaza declared these a response to the storming by police of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Monday 10 May.

There remains the question of how these events are reported. There is always a fear that someone is going to come down heavily on your reporting. The temptation is strong to use apparently "neutral" language, for example describing the cause as "clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians," as one BBC standard phrase has it.

The Freelance commends for readers' consideration this analysis from MSNBC columnist Hayes Brown, who writes: "this is not a situation where the two sides are on equal footing." He doesn't "just mean militarily" and explains: "under the current system, Israeli and Palestinian civilians aren't granted equal protection under the law. A Palestinian's permit to build a home for his family will never be approved without question; an Israeli citizen will never be told to bulldoze his home because it was built on Palestinian land."

16 May 2021

Yesterday was Nakba Day - when Palestinians commemorate the nakba or "disaster" of the expulsion of hundreds of thousands from what became the state of Israel.

It was also the day on which the armed forces of that state bombed a building housing the TV-channel Al-Jazeera and the US agency Associated Press, having given an hour's warning to evacuate but refusing to delay to allow journalists to collect equipment.

The International Federation of Journalists issued a further statement. It "called on the UN Security Council, which meets today [16 May], to take urgent action to stop the deliberate and systematic targeting of journalists in Gaza."

The Committee to Protect Journalists noted that "This latest attack on a building long known by Israel to house international media raises the specter that the Israel Defense Forces is deliberately targeting media facilities in order to disrupt coverage of the human suffering in Gaza."

17 May 2021

At that United Nations Security Council meeting the US was the sole Council member to oppose it calling for a ceasefire - but under UN rules that constitutes a veto. Discussions on a statement continue today (17 May).