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Solidarity Palestinian journalists call for international support

PALESTINIAN journalists are routinely targeted by Israeli forces and need international support and solidarity, a delegation of trade unionists has told MPs.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) recorded 909 media violations, including closure of offices, financial penalties and arrests in the West Bank and Gaza last year — a 37 per cent rise on incidents in the previous year.

PJS president Nasser Abu Baker told a meeting of MPs and journalists in Westminster on Wednesday evening: “We want an end to the attacks on media workers and press freedom.”

He said the tactics deployed to silence journalists were “many and varied — restrictions on movement, the refusal by the Israeli authorities to acknowledge press cards … the seizure and often destruction of equipment, detentions of journalists and the use of lethal and targeted force.”

Mr Abu Baker spoke of the killings of photographers Yaser Murtaja and Ahmad Abu Hussein in April and called for a transparent investigation into their deaths, which he said “constitute a war crime under international law.”

He added: “We have seen blatant lies told by the Israeli government to justify these killings. The treatment of journalists and media workers as terrorists is an outrage that has to stop.”

Photographer Musa Al-Shaer, a member of the general secretariat of the PJS, also spoke at the National Union of Journalists headquarters in King’s Cross, London, about how photographers  were even more at risk than their reporting colleagues.

Mr Al-Shaer added that, in his more than three decades as a journalist, “I have been shot, arrested and imprisoned, attacked and assaulted, hit, dehumanised and verbally abused more times than I could recall.”

And the reason journalists were targeted, he said, is clear. “The Israelis don’t want the narrative of the Palestinians to be published. This is their target, to have only their narrative to the international community.”

But he said he would never be deterred from doing his job because, “as Palestinian journalists, we believe that we have a message and this message has to be going to the international community.

“It has to be delivered and also we know it’s our job.”

He added: “It pushes us to continue. There’s a lot of people who would like to join this job.”

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