The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an order listing the Al-Aqsa TV channel as a terrorist organization. Netanyahu posted on his official account on a twitter Wednesday, 06 March 2019, a post saying that, “the Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed an order declaring the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV channel a terrorist organization as Hamas utilizes the TV channel to recruit terrorists.” The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns this decision and is concerned that it would serve as a prelude to target journalists and media outlets and institutions.
PCHR is strongly concerned over the Israeli statements that incite more violence against the Gaza Strip, which has escalated following the outbreak of the peaceful Great March of Return protests and excessive use of force against the protesters. As a result, thousands were killed and wounded in light of clear instructions given to the Israeli snipers to target the “inciters” of these protests, violating the rules of the international law. Declaring al-Aqsa TV as “a terrorist organization” raises growing concerns that it would be an excuse for targeting the journalists and workers in the TV whose offices and employees have been targeted many times before; the latest was in last November when its building was completely destroyed.
Moreover, PCHR’s concerns are supported by Israel’s black record of targeting journalists, media professionals and organizations. Last year, PCHR documented more than 300 violations that Israeli forces committed against journalists in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt); most prominently was the killing of journalists Yasser Murtaja and Ahmad Abu Hussein while they were covering the Great March of Return and Breaking Siege along the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip. Moreover, around 162 journalists, including 8 female journalists, were injured during the same events.
PCHR stresses that targeting journalists and media organizations constitute a crime according to the international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Thus, PCHR calls upon the international community to take the necessary measures to oblige the Israeli authorities to stop their crimes against the Palestinian civilians, including journalists.