The worrying escalation in Israeli attacks against Palestinian journalists was a topic of discussion at an event yesterday in the European Parliament, initiated by the International Federation of Journalists and hosted by GUE/NGL MEPs Marie-Christine Vergiat and Neoklis Sylikiotis.

French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat welcomed speakers Nasser Abu Bakar, President of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS ), Jeremy Dear Deputy, General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists and Moaiad Al Lamy , President of the Federation of Arab Journalists. Also present was the Palestinian ambassador to the EU. 

Palestinian journalists in the occupied West Bank have their work made almost impossible due to harassment and attacks by the Israeli army, according to the speakers who shared their first-hand accounts. They gave the example of the regular targeting of journalists covering protests, with serious and even fatal injuries, despite clearly being identified with a ‘press’ vest.

There was a sharp increase in violations against journalists in the occupied territory in 2017 with Israel issuing military orders that have forced the shut-down of critical media. In total eight offices of three media companies and two radio stations were forced to close down last year.

Responding to the accounts, French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat urged the immediate release of Palestinian journalists currently imprisoned by Israel. In total there are 29 journalists in Israeli jails, among them six with no trial or charges.

Concerns were also raised about a cooperation between Facebook and the government of Israel which has resulted in the closure of 158 accounts of Palestinians in 2017. There were calls for more to be done on the part of the EU to put an end to the violations of press freedom.

Concluding the event GUE/NGL MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis, chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Palestine (DPAL), agreed to include the issues highlighted in the agenda of an upcoming DPAL meeting and as part of the itinerary of the next mission to Palestine, bringing in this way the issue to wider discussion in the European Parliament.

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