At a press conference held by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) which reviewed the findings of the annual report on violations against media freedoms in Palestine during 2012, members of MADA discussed the nature of the violations documented throughout the year.
The conference was held at MADA’s headquarter in Ramallah on the morning of 27 March 2013.
Opening remarks were delivered by the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr. Ghazi Hanania, who noted that the past year witnessed a serious escalation in violations against journalists by the Israeli forces, who, he says, had no qualms with killing three journalists deliberately during Israel’s latest offensive against the Gaza Strip.
Hanania added, “The Israeli authorities were not even bothered to justify their murders which conveys to what extent Israel’s disregard for laws and international conventions has reached. Not only that, but its disregard for the lives of Palestinian journalists, whereby not only their freedom to express themselves has been violated but also the most important human right, the right to live.”
MADA’s annual report for 2012 explains that the status of media freedom in Palestine has had no promising signs of improvement since the start of the year. As journalists began the year with violations and attacks on their rights, they said their farewell to 2012 with the loss of three colleagues: Aqsa TV cameraman Mahmoud Alkoumi, 30-years-old, Aqsa TV photographer Hussam Salameh, also 30-years-old, and Executive Director of the Jerusalem Educational Radio Muhamed Moussa Abu Eisha, 24-years-old.
MADA also reported 238 violations against journalists and Palestinian media outlets during the past year. The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have committed approximately 70 per cent of the overall total with 164 violations, while different Palestinian factions committed 74 violations altogether, the equivalent of about 30 per cent of the total violations. In comparison with 2011 the violations have increased by about 11.5 per cent which translates roughly into 32 violations.
MADA’s General Director, Mousa Rimawi, outlined the violations committed by the Israeli forces in Palestine, and mentioned that the Israeli forces turned 2012 into a year of hell for journalists and media outlets, where they committed egregious violations against journalists, most notably the killing of the three journalists mentioned above, the bombing of media organizations headquarters and journalists’ homes, and the serious physical assaults some journalists have been subjected. Rimawi added that the Israeli forces not only committed awful violations but have also amplified them by 65 per cent with 164 violations committed in 2012 compared to 100 violations in 2011.
Rimawi explained that the increase in the number and type of violations committed is due to several factors, most notably the power of the Palestinian image and word, and the key role that the Palestinian press plays in shaping the world’s public opinion and reporting on violations committed against them by the occupation. Another factor is that the occupation has never been held accountable or punished for its crimes against journalists and media freedoms, which therefore encourages members of the occupational forces to commit more violations without consideration to human rights and international laws and conventions that guarantee freedom of expression and protection for journalists.
The annual report contains important details about the number of media freedom violations, the types of violations, the dangers associated with them, and the cities most vulnerable to them.
The press conference began with a minute of silence in tribute to the martyrs of the press in Palestine and around the world.