Translation and Subtitles: Abir Kopty – Freie Universität Berlin
Although article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stresses on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Israeli occupation does not respect neither a law or constitution.
In 2015, the violations against press freedom by the Israeli Occupation reached to 4007 cases in West Bank and Gaza. Most of these violations are physical attacks and injuring journalists.
So far in the first quarter of 2016, the violations reached to 80 attacks including the closure of two media institutions.
Currently there are 17 Palestinian journalists in the Israeli occupation’s prisons. Since 1972, 81 journalists were killed by the Israeli occupation.
It is difficult to compare the Palestinian Media to any other media in the world. Why? Because we are under a daily Israeli occupation. The Palestinian media undergoes Israeli pressure, there was a tight Israeli military censorship on Palestinian newspapers. The Israeli occupation authority is trying to subdue the Palestinian Media narratives and exercises great pressure to limit the press freedom, for example, preventing them from accessing to information and even news production.
Therefore, the Palestinian media, is identified with the “Palestinian Union for Journalists and Writers” slogan: “We write by blood for Palestine”. The journalist is a freedom fighter who carries a pen and camera. We have many journalists who were martyred from early days, like Jawhar Hindia and Motiaa Ibrahim and the list is long including Ghassan Kanafani. There is also the assassination of Majid Abo Sharar, who was the chief of the Palestinian United Media, and the two Kamal-s and others, who had written by their blood the pages of Palestinian freedom. The last victim was Omar Nazal, who was arrested while traveling to participate in an international conference.
I say it is very difficult to compare the Palestinian media, which is under the control of the Israeli Occupation, prevented from moving or access the news and even prevented from using cameras. We see how cameras are sprayed with gas and the violent attacks on Palestinian journalists.
Palestine is an occupied country and the last country in the world that is still under occupation. Therefore, the coverage of news by either local or foreign journalists are faced with difficulties due to the laws imposed by the occupation in the occupied territories of 1967 and Jerusalem.
There are several obstacles such as the laws to ban publishing, or ban access under claims of military closed area. There is also the confiscation, and restriction on movement. Personally, the worst for me as photojournalist is the ban on access law i.e. the closed military area. I do not understand it, why declaring a public street, or a farm, or a place where is a demonstration as a closed military zone? I know that military areas are the border areas, or land mine areas, or military compound. But the closed military areas are inside our cities that is under Israeli occupation. There are too many obstacles.
As journalists and the syndicate, we live in a very strange reality that cannot be compared to other communities. The Palestinian journalists live in particular condition due to the Israeli Occupation and the division.
The Palestinian journalist functions on three extreme dimensions. We demand that journalism should be acknowledged as a dangerous field that could impact your life. We consider this a basic right.
There are many attacks against reporters in Gaza by Hamas; there are also some attacks, arrests and summoning to investigation to journalists by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Moreover, there are big violations by the Israeli occupation, which is deliberate and its army has green light to attack journalists. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said clearly that he will face the Palestinian media and went further to shutting down three radio stations in the West Bank and shutting down Palestine Today TV. He also detained a member of the General Secretariat of the journalists’ syndicate.
On all Palestinian fronts, especially in Gaza under Hamas and West Bank under Palestinian Authority, there is no absolute freedom of press and there is a very strict self-censorship, which is stronger than the ruler’s censorship, that journalists practice.
One might find some fearlessness by some newspapers as a result of editor-in-chief or journalists in these newspapers but not due to funder’s or owner’s nature. Therefore, we cannot assume that independent journalism is successful in this frame.
The success depends on the motivation and professionality of the journalists, editors and editors-in-chief. If they want to be professional their journalism will prevail, if they want to be subject to the owner’s or the politician’s agenda.