Israel has taken no accountability for killing 20 journalists, report finds

Middle East Monitor  /  May 11, 2023

Israel has taken no accountability for its killings of 20 journalists over the past two decades, a press watchdog’s report has revealed on the first anniversary of Al-Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing by Israeli forces.

In a report released on Tuesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), it showed a map of 20 locations where journalists killed in Palestine and its Occupied Territories since 2001, consisting of seven killings in the West Bank and 13 in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has displayed a pattern of discounting evidence and witness testimonies in those shooting incidents over the past 22 years, according to the report, clearing soldiers of wrongdoing while investigations were still underway and providing little recourse to the families of those killed.

In at least 13 of the cases, the report found that Israeli authorities had dismissed such witness testimonies and independent reports, had overlooked conflicts of interest in the chain of command and had classified the results of the investigations by keeping them from the public. “The result is always the same — no one is held responsible”, the report stated.

The report also found that the Israeli military has consistently failed to recognize and show respect for insignia highlighting the press and journalists, and that it has accused journalists of terrorism without explanation.

CPJ’s report comes a year after Shireen Abu Akleh – the Palestinian-American journalist who was an Al Jazeera correspondent – was shot and killed by Israeli forces during a military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.

After insisting that she was merely caught in the crossfire and was killed by Palestinian Resistance fighters, Israel later acknowledged, after an investigation, that Abu Akleh was likely killed by a member of its military, claiming that it was unintentional. It also criticized a decision by the United States in November to launch its own investigation into the killing, calling it a “grave mistake” and refusing to cooperate with it.

“Ahead of the first anniversary of Abu Akleh’s death, CPJ revisited these 20 cases and found a pattern of Israeli response that appears designed to evade responsibility”, stated the CPJ report. “Israel has failed to fully investigate these killings, launching deeper probes only when the victim is foreign or has a high-profile employer. Even then, inquiries drag on for months or years and end with the exoneration of those who opened fire.”