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Israeli soldiers shoot live ammunition at Palestinian journalists

The incident which was caught on camera comes the same day as the Committee to Protect Journalists publishes a report concluding that Israel kills journalists with impunity and undermines freedom of the press.

Jerusalem24 Noelle Mafarjeh and Nadeen Alshaer – Israeli soldiers were captured an camera shooting live ammunition at a group of several Palestinian journalists and unarmed Palestinian civilians.

The video footage shows at least 12 live shots targeting the journalists (wearing clearly-marked “Press” bulletproof vests and helmets) and civilians crouching behind a wall during a military invasion of Nablus this morning, during which 13 Palestinians including a 14-year-old boy were injured by Israeli gunfire.

“Pushing false narratives” and “discounting evidence”

This morning’s incident comes the same day as a new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) was published, commissioned ahead of the upcoming one-year anniversary of the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by an Israeli sniper.

The scathing report finds that Israel “discounts evidence and witness claims”, “fails to respect press insignia”, “pushes false narratives”, “clears soldiers while probes are ongoing”, “undermines independent reporting”, and accuses journalists of “terrorism” posthumously in an effort to justify their deaths.

The CPJ has documented “at least” 20 journalist killings by members of the Israeli military since 2001, including two foreigners. The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) puts the death toll at 55 since 2000, while hundreds have been injured or arrested.

In response to the CPJ report, the Israeli military told Haaretz this morning that it “does not conduct targeted shooting at non-involved people, and the use of live fire is made after all other options have been exhausted. Even during intense fighting, the IDF attacks military targets only, and takes all possible precautions to reduce harm to civilians during its operational activities.”

PJS board member Musa Alshaer tells Jerusalem24 that the Israeli army response is “funny and ridiculous”.

“How can the killing of over 55 Palestinian journalists with live ammunition since 2000, and the deliberate targeting and assaulting of tens of journalists, be justified? Were these killed journalists involved in confrontations with the Israeli occupation forces? [Not] unless we consider reporting the truth on the ground a crime in itself.”

“If you convict him, you’ll ruin his life”

The CPJ report points out that Israel’s militaristic society, in which conscription is mandatory and soldiers “are broadly seen as the nation’s sons and daughters”, reacts very strongly against any potential prosecution of a soldier – even where they have been proven to commit a war crime.

Shlomo Zipori, a former chief defense attorney of the Military Advocate General’s unit, told the CPJ that the impact of an investigation on a soldier must also be weighed against the public (or international) interest in opening that investigation.

“If you convict him, you’ll ruin his life,” Zipori said. “There are more than 50 professions he can’t do in civilian life for 17 years if he’s convicted.”

Alshaer does not expect Israel to take any more accountability in the future as Palestinians have witnessed so far.

“We are not waiting for justice from an entity that continues to occupy our land,” he says. “As long as this occupation goes on, the idea that there will be justice for our people and our journalists is simply not credible.”

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