Wednesday June 29, 2022

Israel’s record on investigating journalists’ killings

May 25, 2022

OCCUPIED-AL-QUDS: Following the fatal shooting of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh during a raid in the occupied West Bank, AFP has looked at the Israeli army’s record of probing previous journalist deaths.

The Qatar-based TV channel alleged that Palestinian-American Abu Akleh, 51, who was wearing a blue flak vest marked "Press", was killed deliberately by an Israeli soldier on May 11. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said an initial investigation had not determined whether she was killed by stray Palestinian gunfire or an Israeli bullet aimed at a militant.

But the army has said that if an Israeli soldier fired the deadly bullet, it did not appear that the soldier was guilty of criminal misconduct. Several human rights groups that are prominent critics of Israel told AFP that the IDF’s record of accountability in similar cases had been dismal.

Roy Yellin of B’Tselem -- the first Israeli group to publicly allege that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians amounts to "apartheid" -- charged that investigations usually amount to "an organised cover-up" that aim "not to bring about truth and accountability but, on the contrary, to prevent them".

Israel’s military has described its internal justice processes as "robust". According to Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF), at least 30 journalists, mostly Palestinians, have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank and Gaza since 2000, mostly while reporting.

The group recorded no such deaths inside Israel over the same period. All but four of the cases cited by RSF involved Palestinian journalists. The foreigners were a Briton, two Italians and a Turkish national.

Asked to identify a case this century where a soldier faced charges following a journalist’s death, army spokespersons did not produce an example. AFP has shared RSF’s list with the military.