Targeting press and Palestinians, Israel will silence neither

Members of the press stand in front of the rubble of a high-rise building destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, that housed media outlets including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera, on Saturday, May 15, 2021. (Photo: NYTimes)
The staff at Jordan News condemn the horrific and senseless destruction of Al-Jalaa Tower, a building housing international media outlets, including Al-Jazeera, the BBC, and the Associated Press in Gaza. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and an attack on journalists anywhere is an attack on journalism everywhere. اضافة اعلان

It is clear that the destruction of the tower is part of a focused campaign to silence the voices of Palestinians. The tower also contained the offices of several internet providers. Online platforms such as social media have provided a crucial tool for activists in and outside historic Palestine and the occupied territories to document the human rights violations committed against Palestinians and call for change; social media activists speaking out against the occupation have also been silenced and censored. In targeting media outlets and journalists, Israel is not fighting “terrorism”, nor is it “defending itself,” but rather is looking to shift the international narrative and prevent the other side of the war from being seen. 

Last month, Human Rights Watch described Gaza as an “open-air prison.” Locked into a cramped and narrow strip of land, both the professional media and the informal media conducted through the internet represent some of the only methods for functionally stateless and heavily blockaded Gazan citizens to speak for themselves. The fall of Al-Jalaa Tower represents a devastating blow to Palestinians’ ability to tell their stories to the world and an appalling crime by Israel. 

We are confident that despite the obstacles placed in their way that the courageous journalists at Al-Jazeera, BBC, the Associated Press, and other independent outlets, as well as citizen journalists telling their own stories from Gaza, will continue to accomplish much needed work. Still, the world will now know less about the ongoing violence committed in Gaza and the resilience of its people.

The attack on the tower is not the only atrocity and international crime committed by Israel in recent days. Israeli strikes have targeted refugee camps and residential buildings and killed women and children. Al-Jalaa Tower itself was also a residential building hosting dozens of families now made homeless. Altogether, the actions of Israel represent a flagrant disrespect for the conventions of international law that demand the protection of civilians and the guarding of human rights.

Israel has long positioned itself as the only democracy in the Middle East. But the very journalism outlets callously destroyed yesterday are a central component of democracy. As the 15-storey building went up in plumes of black smoke, so did any presence that the Israeli government is not willfully committing war crimes against Palestine. The world is watching. We call on governments to resolutely condemn Israel’s attack on civilians and the press and take action through the United Nations to prevent further erosion of Palestinians’ human rights.

Read more National News.