On World Press Freedom Day: Israel must cease attacks on Palestinian journalists and respect press freedom


3 May marks World Press Freedom Day—an annual event that serves to raise awareness about the fundamental importance of press freedom. It provides an opportunity to remind decision-makers about the duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year’s theme is  ‘Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a Driver for all Other Human Rights’.

In the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), this occasion coincides with continued Israeli systematic violations against Palestinian journalists and media professionals. Israeli violations against journalists range from killing, injuring, physically assaulting, arbitrarily arresting, sabotaging journalistic equipment, or denying access to locations despite wearing a ‘PRESS’ vest. Israeli military attacks also regularly target press institutions, their offices, and vehicles. In the occupied Gaza Strip, Al Mezan’s documentation between 3 May 2022 and 3 May 2023 shows that Israeli forces injured one Palestinian journalist and damaged five press institutions during the August 2022 Israeli offensive on Gaza.  

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) documented a total of 605 violations against press freedom in Palestine in 2022. Israeli forces and settlers were responsible for 69 percent of these violations, while Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were responsible for 9 percent of all violations. The remaining violations were committed by social media companies and other authorities.

As for 2022, MADA reported some of the most egregious Israeli violations against journalists including the unlawful killing of two Palestinian female journalists while on duty—Shireen Abu Akleh and Ghufran Warasna—122 injuries and/or physical assaults, 162 incidents of denial of media coverage, 52 arrests and interrogations, eight cases of closure and/or destruction of media outlets, and 39 incidents destruction and/or seizure of equipment. It is worth noting that Israeli violations against journalists increased during the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in August 2022, as did protests in the West Bank in solidarity with Gaza. In 2022, Israeli violations affected 357 journalists, including 42 women, and 11 news crews on the ground in the OPT.

Al Mezan emphasizes the crucial importance of a free press, the need to respect international humanitarian and human rights law—particularly Articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights—and to protect journalists’ right to freedom of opinion and expression, access to information, assembly, as well as ensure protection for all press workers in the areas of armed conflict.

Mindful of the role that press freedom plays in exposing human rights violations, promoting principles of human rights and democracy, and creating more open and better-informed societies, Al Mezan seizes this occasion to call on third States and the international community to uphold their moral and legal obligations towards the Palestinian people, including by guaranteeing respect for the right to freedom of opinion and expression—which entails the freedom, protection, and development of the Palestinian media—and by ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the OPT, including those that are press-related.

Al Mezan also calls on Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to respect the freedom of the press in accordance with their obligations under the Palestinian Basic Law, which guarantees in Article 19 the right to freedom of opinion and expression.  

Lastly, to mark World Press Freedom Day, Al Mezan salutes Palestinian journalists and media professionals for their ongoing efforts and sacrifices in conveying the truth and calls on them to continue pressing their demands in order to promote the freedom of opinion and expression in the OPT. Al Mezan also calls on journalists worldwide to strengthen their solidarity with Palestinian journalists and to continue exposing Israeli violations against them and Palestinian civilians in general.




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