The IFJ has accused the Israeli government of “fabricating lies to justify murder”.
The global organisation of journalists hit back after Lieberman tweeted to claim the Palestinian journalist, Yasser Murtaja, shot by Israeli troops on 6 April, was “a terrorist”.
It follows his earlier claims that there were “no innocent people” in Gaza, widely seen as providing carte blanche to troops to kill with impunity.
Lieberman tweeted: The photographer (#YasserMurtaja) was a terrorist with a prior association w/ the military wing of Hamas. He held the rank of captain & was paid regularly by Hamas since 2011. He used to fly drones to collect intel on IDF forces at the front.
The IFJ joined international organisations in condemning the claims. In 2015 the IFJ had received and documented a complaint made by Murtaja about his treatment at the hands of Hamas officials after he was detained and prevented from filming by the authorities.
The Washington Post reported that: “Murtaja’s Gaza-based company had also recently been screened in accord with strict U.S. government requirements as part of an application for assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said a State Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in line with protocol. The grant had been approved, the official said, raising questions about how an affiliation with Hamas’s military wing would not have been flagged if Murtaja was known to Israeli intelligence”.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger accused Lieberman of engaging in propaganda and a cover-up. He said: “It is clear that after Israeli soldiers murdered a journalist the Defence Minister is more interested in spouting propaganda and engaging in a cover-up than in carrying out a thorough and transparent investigation and bringing Yasser’s killers to justice. It is time for the Israeli authorities to stop fabricating lies to justify murder and it is time to stop targeting Palestinian journalists”.