Palestine is a dangerous country for journalists, especially in the Gaza Strip, where journalists, as well as citizens, are paying the price of the clashes in an area where the political context is extremely sensitive. In the last decade, 31 journalists were killed including 3 foreign journalists (1 Turkish and 2 Italian) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Among them, 28 were killed by the Israeli forces, 2 by gunmen in Gaza and 1 by Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. 22 of these killings happened during the last 5 years. None of these 31 murders killers have been punished.
In 2014, the so-called Israely military operation Protective Edge in Gaza left hundreds of victims, including media workers. Israel military forces clashed with Palestinian paramilitary forces such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement. The military operation started on 8 July and ended with a ceasefire on 26 August. 17 journalists (16 Palestinian and 1 Italian) were killed during the two months of the offensive.
In 2018, two journalists, Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Mohammed Abu Hussein, were killed while they were covering protests of the “Great March of Return” in Gaza, an annual demonstration organised by Palestinians to commemorate the 1948 Palestinian exodus during the first Israeli-Palestinian war. The 2018 march was more celebrated than ever because it was the 70th anniversary.
Yasser Murtaja, a 31-year-old photojournalist who was working for the Gaza-based ‘Ein Media News Agency, was killed on April 7, 2018, while covering the Great March of Return and the protests along the eastern and northern borders of the Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers shot on Yasser hitting him with a bullet in the abdomen. He underwent surgery and medical treatment at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis but they could not save his life. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights’ investigations, Yasser was wearing a blue helmet and a vest marked press when he was killed.
Ahmed Mohammed Abu Hussein was killed on April 25, 2018. The 24-year-old photojournalist worked for Bisan News Agency and for al-Sha’ab Radio. Ahmed was shot in the armpit on 13 April by Israeli snipers while he was covering another event of the Great March of Return near Jabalia (Gaza Strip). As with Yasser, he was also shot even though he was clearly identified as a journalist. He died on 25 April due to the injuries.
During recent months, dozens of journalists have been wounded, arrested or forbidden to report on certain events. Media workers have suffered violations of the right to personal security, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detentions, refusals of access to certain areas, raids on media offices, satellite channels and homes and the closure of radio stations.
Authorities also pressured social media like Facebook or Twitter to delete posts. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, most of this censorship took place when journalists were covering peaceful civil society protests against the confiscation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank.