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Editorial: Demanding freedom of movement and access for Palestinian journalists

Palestinian journalists have published a petition aimed at pressuring Israel to grant them full freedom of movement and access in order to do their jobs, just as it allows Israeli journalists to work freely in Israel and Palestine. We at +972 support their petition and call on all of our Israeli and international colleagues to do the same.

By the +972 Magazine and Activestills collectives

Israeli security forces detaining, assaulting and obstructing Palestinian journalists. (File photos: Activestills.org)

For more than a decade, Israel has placed serious hurdles in the path of Palestinian journalists, often preventing them from covering the news in their own territory and at times even putting their lives at risk.

Shortly after the Second Intifada began in 2000, the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) stopped issuing credentials to Palestinian journalists, many of whom were veteran employees of international media outlets. GPO cards allow journalists to pass easily through checkpoints and gain entrance to press conferences and other events called by government and army officials. Most importantly, they offer protection in conflict zones and during clashes between security forces and civilians.

Palestinian journalists are given official accreditation by the Palestinian Information Ministry. Israel, however, does not honor those press cards. Palestinian journalists are unable to pass through Israeli checkpoints, are not granted access to official press events and are subject to state violence in a way that Israeli journalists are not. Israeli journalists have broad access, traveling freely between the Muqata and the Knesset.

Palestinian journalists are routinely manhandled, beaten, arrested and even shot at by Israeli soldiers, then denied the right to due process in a civilian court. For freelance Palestinian journalists and those working for international news organizations, job opportunities are often lost because they are unable to cover events and interview officials. Even within the West Bank their freedom of movement is restricted. Moreover, they cannot enter East Jerusalem or travel to Gaza, where their own people live.

As the occupier and effective sovereign, the Israeli army and its civilian political commanders make decisions that directly affect Palestinians’ day-to-day lives. But Palestinian journalists are not given the access to report on those decisions, events, political personalities and the society behind them. The result is a troubling lack of freedom of information.

Across-the-board discrimination is unacceptable, even when states reserve for themselves the right to determine who may enter their territory based on security considerations. All journalists residing in and reporting on events that occur in territory controlled by Israel should have the same human and professional rights.

Thus we at +972 Magazine call on the Israeli authorities to grant Palestinian journalists the same freedom of movement, access and protection enjoyed by Israeli reporters, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

We stand in full, unequivocal solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues and support their petition demanding the ability to freely travel in order to work as journalists. We call on all Israeli and international news organizations and journalists to do the same.

Freedom of the press, freedom of movement, freedom of information and freedom of occupation are inextricable, vital components in the struggle for democracy, peace and civil and human rights. These are principles we are unable and refuse to compromise on.

Sign the petition demanding freedom of movement for Palestinian journalists here.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Well, somebody should say this is a brave thing to do, as it is, so I will.

      One could make the matter more palatable by tagging a Palestinian journalist to a foreign journalist, thereby reducing the probability of moles, which is what the IDF will say it worries about. This is far from ideal, as it forces the Palestinian into a subservient role with a foreigner, and there will be side payments of some sort or another. But, assuming the IDF will refuse equality across all journalists, it would be a bit better than now.

      Reply to Comment
    2. The Trespasser

      Oh these evil Jooz. Oppressing these innocent Palestinian journalists.

      But why is that? Let’s see…

      “A former Palestinian newscaster, Ahlam Tamimi, recalls the day she dropped a suicide bomber off at his target, then coolly went on television to report on the resulting bombing.”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/27/arts/television/27genz.html?_r=0

      Hmm… A bit of unprofessional behaviour, I’d say.

      Makes sense why author of this article neglected to mention the event which lead to revocation of Palestinian journalist accreditation.

      >But Palestinian journalists are not given the access

      Because Palestinian journalists can’t be trusted. Thank Tamimi.

      >Across-the-board discrimination is unacceptable

      No discrimination at all. Merely lack of trust.

      Reply to Comment
      • There will be risk. That’s why I suggested coupling with foreign correspondents for a start. There is also much realized risk among Palestinians when it comes to some IDF soldiers. Filming has reduced that a bit, I think. If one defends one side unilaterally, matters reduce to the distribution of destruction.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          There is no point in taking risk just to see yet another Palestinian Arab journalist deciding to create news instead of reporting them.

          Reply to Comment
    3. The Trespasser

      Palestinian [s]terr[/s] freedom-fighters hide behind [s]other terr[/s] journalists while firebombing Israeli soldiers

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_Vkun3rIm8

      Reply to Comment
    4. Tim Arnold

      On the basis of one story we should do what to all Palestinians.. I mean Palestinian journalists. You know what, call a spade a spade. On the basis of one story, from 2007 we should disregard everything the Palestinians say.
      Let’s not ask any telling questions, like, how many Palestinians have been killed or how many Palestinians have been made homeless, how many have been arrested or how many have been expelled from their land. After all none of this matters. Remember who are the real victims here.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Engelbert Luitsz

      Excellent initiative. I hope to see more Palestinian voices in main stream media. Why this story doesn’t make the headlines in Europe is beyond me. But a thousand Palestinian hunger strikers didn’t make it either.
      It reminds me of the treatment of some non-jewish reporters during Operation Pillar of Cloud.

      Reply to Comment
    6. The Trespasser

      >On the basis of one story we should do what to all Palestinians..

      Hardly “one story”. I’d rather say “over 100 years of similar stories”

      >I mean Palestinian journalists. You know what, call a spade a spade. On the basis of one story, from 2007 we should disregard everything the Palestinians say.

      And what do they have to say?

      I dare you to provide 1 (one) Palestinian Arab website, similar to this one, where the possibility of peace/coexistence is discussed.

      >Let’s not ask any telling questions, like, how many Palestinians have been killed or how many Palestinians have been made homeless, how many have been arrested or how many have been expelled from their land. After all none of this matters.

      Not for groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad, who would happily send to death many thousands if it would put an end to the Zionist Entity.

      >Remember who are the real victims here.

      Palestinians. Victims of hatred and poor leadership.

      Reply to Comment
    7. David T.

      “Palestinians. Victims of hatred and poor leadership.”

      Of course, never victims of Israelis, their occupation, expulsion and dispossesion. Cause Jews as such could never commit any wrong doing to Nonjews, right?

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >Of course, never victims of Israelis, their occupation, expulsion and dispossession.

        Arabs hated and oppressed Jews LONG before occupation, expulsion and dispossession.

        >Cause Jews as such could never commit any wrong doing to Nonjews, right?

        Well, compared to the quantity and the quality of wrongdoing committed by Nonjews, towards other Nonjews or even Jews, Jews actually are rather nice, peace-loving people…

        Reply to Comment
        • David T.

          “Arabs hated and oppressed Jews LONG before occupation, expulsion and dispossession.”

          That must be the reason why Jews chose to move to Palestine. Some kind of suicidal masochism, right?

          “Well, compared to the quantity and the quality of wrongdoing committed by Nonjews, towards other Nonjews or even Jews, Jews actually are rather nice, peace-loving people.”

          Yes, occupying, expelling and dispossessing other people is not only “peace-loving” in your mindset. Ask certain Germans.

          Reply to Comment

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