Tue, 10 Dec 2019

Israel enjoying impunity as predator of press freedom, claims IFJ

By Jay Jackson, Australian News.Net
18 Nov 2019, 19:48 GMT+10

The International Federation of Journalists, the global advocacy group founded in1926, slammed the Israeli army for the shooting of a Palestinian journalist on Friday.

Moath Amarneh who works for a Palestinian news agency was covering a protest by Palestinians over Israeli confiscation of land in the village of Surif, north-west of Hebron.

He was wearing a bullet proof vest and a helmet. He was shot in the eye by a rubber bullet. He is now blind in that eye.

The journalists' federation on Monday called on the UN to adopt a convention that ensures the protection of all journalists.

"Once again, the IFJ deplores the attacks on Palestinian journalists by the Israeli military," Anthony Bellanger, the organization's general secretary said Monday.

"The IFJ recalls that international law applies everywhere and that no government is above it."

"It is now time for the UN General Assembly to adopt the Convention for the Protection and Safety of Journalists, so that the impunity enjoyed by predators of press freedom and democracy can end in Israel, as elsewhere," he said.

The international community began rallying on Sunday in support of the Palestinian press photographer.

Photos of people covering their left eye in solidarity went viral on social media.

"We will continue to bear witness. In solidarity and affection," Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official of the PLO and a decorated human rights activist, posted on Twitter.

Mohammed Kareem, a spokesman for the organizers of weekly protests against Israel's blockade of Gaza, said Amarneh's case was part of Israel's "long chain of violations against Palestinian journalists."

"It's a deliberate policy that the occupation uses to prevent the Palestinians from delivering the truth to the world," he said.

In a statement, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate condemned the attack, saying that "this was a deliberate targeting by the Israeli army of a colleague wearing a bullet-proof vest signed "Press." It also called on "international institutions to act quickly to stop this violence against the press in Palestine."

Atia Darwish is another press photographer. His image of Palestinian children eating watermelon by the sea was featured in an outdoor exhibition that toured Lebanon during September.

Many of those who marveled at the picture were probably not aware that the man who took it cannot work at the moment. On 14 December last year, Darwish was working at the Great March of Return protests in eastern Gaza. He had been taking photographs for approximately half an hour when he, along with two other photojournalists, was wounded by a tear gas projectile.

Darwish lost consciousness. When he regained it, he found himself under intensive care in Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital, according to an article by Amjad Ayman Yaghi, a journalist based in Gaza.

The projectile had hit him below his left eye. He lost some bones around it, as well as having his jaw damaged.

"My eye kept bleeding for a week and my ear for the next two days," he said.

Darwish fears that his vision cannot be repaired.

In February this year, he traveled to Egypt for treatment. A doctor there diagnosed him with fibrosis of the retina and said that the condition was incurable.

"I feel let down," said Darwish. "The world doesn't regard the bombs thrown at us by Israel as dangerous. But they can kill people and the dreams of our youth."

He cannot see beyond 15 centimeters with his left eye. He has also become partially deaf.

The dramatic change to his appearance caused by his injury has shocked Darwish.

"When I got back to Gaza from Egypt, I felt hopeless when I looked at old photos of myself on Facebook and Instagram," he said. "I will not be like that again."

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