On January 19, during one of its raids in the Occupied West Bank, the Israeli military arrested a Palestinian journalist, Abdul Muhsen Shalaldeh, near the town of Al-Khalil (Hebron). This is just the latest of a staggering number of violations against Palestinian journalists, and against freedom of expression.
A few days earlier, the head of the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate (PJS), Naser Abu Baker, shared some tragic numbers during a press conference in Ramallah. “Fifty-five reporters have been killed, either by Israeli fire or bombardment since 2000,” he said. Hundreds more were wounded, arrested or detained. Although shocking, much of this reality is censored in mainstream media.
The murder by Israeli occupation soldiers of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11, was an exception, partly due to the global influence of her employer, Al Jazeera Network. Still, Israel and its allies labored to hide the news, resorting to the usual tactic of smearing those who defy the Israeli narrative.
Palestinian journalists pay a heavy price for carrying out their mission of spreading the truth about the ongoing Israeli oppression of Palestinians. Their work is not only critical to good and balanced media coverage, but to the very cause of justice and freedom in Palestine.
In a recent report on January 17, PJS detailed some of the harrowing experiences of Palestinian journalists. “Dozens of journalists were targeted by the occupation forces and settlers during the last year, which (recorded) the highest number of serious attacks against Palestinian journalists.”
However, the harm inflicted on Palestinian journalists is not only physical and material. They are also constantly exposed to a very subtle, but equally dangerous, threat: the constant delegitimization of their work.