Israel’s Targeting of Palestinian Journalists – Leila Hussein 10/27/23


The purpose of Israeli attacks against journalists can’t change: integral to the foundation and maintenance of the Zionist project is manufactured consent for the “removal” of a people whose memory and existence Israel considers a threat.

An enemy whose current military strategy can be summed up as the destruction of as much civilian infrastructure as possible, followed by the denial of the civilian nature of those “targets” or of the actions altogether, relies heavily on sympathetic state media to alchemize what is plain to the eye under the banner of, “yes, but it’s not what you think.” A successful resistance movement integrates multiple fronts. In the face of this enemy, our journalists play an outsized role in establishing reality.

As the Israelis withdrew from Lebanese territory in May 2000, they killed Abed Takkoush, a news assistant and driver working for the BBC. First, they tried to point the finger at their proxy fighters, whom they’d left behind to fend for themselves. Ample video footage substantiated direct Israeli culpability: it was “an unprovoked attack on Mr. Takkoush’s blue Mercedes by an Israeli Merkava tank stationed about 4,000 feet away, inside Israeli territory,” The New York Times reported a month later. Jeremy Bowen, the BBC reporter Takkoush had driven to the southern border to report on the Israeli withdrawal, approached the burning car. The Israelis responded with rounds of machine gun fire, to warn both him and the Lebanese Red Cross truck that tried to aid Takkoush, to stay away. Later, the Israeli Army admitted blame, calling it a “tragic accident.” The camera man’s tripod could have been an anti-tank missile launcher, the Army claimed. Never mind the day had been quiet, and the only fire across the border for the past couple of days was sporadic, exclusively from the Israeli side, targeting civilians who’d returned to their land for the first time in years.

In August 2010, the Israelis tried to uproot a tree obstructing their surveillance capacity along the Lebanese-Israeli border. Their crane crossed into Lebanese territory, and the Lebanese Army fired warning shots into the air, and the Israelis responded by firing at the Lebanese soldiers. Missiles from an Israeli helicopter killed Assaf Abu Rahal, a reporter for the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, who’d arrived at the border to report on the escalation.

During Gaza’s Great March of Return protests between 2018 to 2019, tens of thousands of Palestinians marched to call for an end to the siege and to demand their United Nations-guaranteed Right of Return. On April 6, 2018, an Israeli sniper targeted journalist Yasser Mortaja in his abdomen, just below his blue bulletproof vest marked PRESS, and killed him. In the immediate aftermath the Israeli army claimed it “does not intentionally shoot at journalists.” They added that the “circumstances in which the journalist was allegedly hit by IDF gunfire are unknown and under investigation.”


And if it turned out Israel did kill him, the act was already justified: then-Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said without producing any evidence that Hamas “activists” often “disguised themselves as medics and journalists,” and that the Israelis “do not take chances in those cases.” The press vest becomes a front, and the Israelis could, in the name of security interests, kill anyone.

A couple of weeks later, the Israelis killed another journalist covering the same protests, Ahmad Abu Hussein, also dressed in press gear such that his killing must have been intentional, too. Over the course of those months, Israeli snipers injured thirty-nine media workers. Can’t “take chances.”

Since 2000, Israel has killed at least 20 Palestinian journalists. No one has been held accountable. In 2022, the high-profile Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered at the entrance of Jenin, where she’d just arrived to cover the Israeli carnage against the refugee camp. There were numerous live witnesses, including other members of the press. The whole thing was recorded. And it was clear, based on where the bullet entered, that this was the work of someone trained to kill with precision. The Israelis blamed the Palestinians, then denied, denied, denied, and eventually, they admitted blame and there were no consequences for their sniper.

A pattern emerges: Israel targets journalists. Western media feigns ignorance of this pattern, and every time, we must go through the same procedural steps irrespective of what the eyes can see. First, they express their doubts or disbelief. Then, this media apparatus engages with the other side’s (read: our) media. They report “unconfirmed” claims and call on the Israelis to pursue a swift, impartial investigation. (The unspoken assumption here: the Israelis are capable of impartiality in a way Arab actors will never be.) The Israelis deny, or they claim “human shield” or “security threat,” and the Western media conveys this. Satisfied with some version of “they did it to themselves,” Western media moves on. Weeks or months later, the Israelis vaguely admit to the deed, and this media isn’t compelled to carry the story along in its news cycle long enough for it to gain traction. …

Read More…