The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has published a report detailing the lack of accountability held by the Israeli military regarding their killings of at least 20 journalists over the past 20 years. The report, titled “Deadly Pattern,” exposes a distressing trend in which “a pattern of the killings of journalists by Israel Defense Forces (IDF), after which no accountability is taken,” according to a CPJ press release. The press advocacy group reveals that although the IDF has taken out 20 journalists since 2001, only Palestinian reporters have been affected by such killings, with no one charged or held accountable for the deaths. These events lead to concerns about the reporters’ safety, as the CPJ emphasizes that the lack of accountability and uncooperative nature of the Israeli military regarding the inquiries makes it exceptionally challenging and incredibly dangerous for journalists to report in the region.
The report states that there is a typical pattern when a journalist is killed in the occupied territories at the hands of the IDF. “Israeli officials discount evidence and witness claims, often seeming to clear soldiers for the killings while inquiries are still in progress; IDF’s procedure for examining military killings of civilians such as journalists described as a “black box,” with the results of any such probe kept confidential.” Furthermore, the report highlights that Israeli military investigations into such incidents often take years, and families of the mostly Palestinian journalists have little to no recourse to pursue justice. The IDF’s Military Advocate General’s Office made a statement in September 2021 stating it does not intend to prosecute any of the soldiers involved.
In May of 2021, CNN conducted an investigation after Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old Palestinian-American, was shot and killed by the IDF while covering an Israeli military operation in Jenin. The investigation uncovered footage and testimonies that proved no active combat or Palestinian militants were present at the time of her death. The report also features a quote by the CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado, stating that “The deliberate targeting of journalists, whether through the use of live rounds, rubber bullets, or tear gas, is unacceptable and must stop.”
The report concludes that the lack of accountability, refusal to cooperate with investigations, and the slow pace of military probes means that the Israeli military are complicit with the killings of journalists and impunity for the death of journalists, and this has become a distressing trend. The report also urges Israeli authorities to take action to curb such incidents and that IDF officials should be held accountable for their actions.
Report finds Israeli forces repeatedly fail to respect press insignia, resulting in deaths of journalists
The Israeli military has been accused of failing to protect journalists in the West Bank and Gaza, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The report states that 20 journalists have been killed in the regions since 1992, with at least 13 clearly marked as press at the time of their deaths. The report also alleges that Israeli forces continue to ignore the “press insignia” of journalists and media workers. The CPJ claims that it contacted the IDF’s press office multiple times to request interviews with military prosecutors and officials, but was always refused.
The IDF regrets any harm to civilians caused during operational activity and recognises the importance of press freedom and the work of journalists, according to a statement by the agency. The IDF is said to use live fire only as a last resort, and not to target non-combatants. It also investigates its own actions through independent and comprehensive examination and investigation mechanisms including the Fact Finding Assessment. The Israeli military has stated that whenever an allegation of unlawful harm to civilians, including journalists, is raised, an investigative procedure is initiated to clarify these allegations. When there is reasonable suspicion of a criminal offence, a criminal investigation will be opened.
“The degree to which Israel claims to investigate journalist killings depends largely on external pressure,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “There are cursory probes into the deaths of journalists with foreign passports, but that is rarely the case for slain Palestinian reporters. Ultimately, none has seen any semblance of justice.” The report also states that none of the IDF personnel involved in the deaths of the 20 journalists has ever been held accountable.
Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s director of special projects, said “The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and the failure of the army’s investigative process to hold anyone responsible is not a one-off event. It is part of a pattern of response that seems designed to evade responsibility. Not one member of the IDF has been held accountable in the deaths of 20 journalists from Israeli military fire over the last 22 years.”