ICC case filed over ‘systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists’ by Israel

Photo-journalist Abed Rahim Khatib gets injured in his hand after Israeli forces' intervention during the "Great March of Return" rally at Israel-Gaza border in Gaza City, Gaza on November 01, 2019. Editorial credit: Anas-Mohammed / Shutterstock.com

A legal case has been submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC), alleging that Israel’s “systematic targeting of journalists” working in Palestine and its failure to “properly investigate killings of media workers” amount to war crimes.

The complaint is on behalf of four men – Ahmed Abu Hussein, Yaser Murtaja, Muath Amarneh and Nedal Eshtayeh – who were killed or maimed by Israeli snipers while covering demonstrations in Gaza. All were wearing clearly marked “press” vests at the time they were shot.

The complaint also details the targeting of media and bombing of the the Al-Shorouk and Al-Jawhara Towers in Gaza City in May 2021, including the cases of Alam News, Al Hayat Newspapers, Mayadeen Media, Al Bawaba 24 and others.

At least 46 journalists have been killed by Israel since 2000 and no one has been held to account.

Bindmans LLP and Doughty Street Chambers worked with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) to submit the formal complaint to the ICC in April 2022.

The complaint, which alleges war crimes against journalists by Israel’s security forces, will now be considered and could lead to a formal investigation and prosecution.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The targeting of journalists and media organisations in Palestine violates the right to life and freedom of expression. These crimes must be fully investigated. This systematic targeting must stop. We are proud to work with PJS, ICJP, Bindmans and Doughty Street Chambers to seek to ensure those responsible for crimes against journalists are held accountable.”

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Legal Counsel for the group, Jennifer Robinson and Tatyana Eatwell of Doughty Street Chambers, said: “The cases communicated to the ICC Prosecutor are emblematic of the ongoing, systematic attacks and use of lethal force against journalists and media organisations in Palestine by the Israeli security services.

“These journalists and media organisations were targeted and attacked in circumstances that give rise to strong grounds to suspect that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed.

“In the light of the continuing impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of these attacks, the victims now call upon the ICC Prosecutor to exercise his jurisdiction and authority to investigate and to act against impunity, and in doing so, to communicate to the international community at large that journalists working on the frontline in situations of armed conflict, crisis and political upheaval are not fair game.”

Israel has yet to address the accusations.

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