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Journalist charge in legal battle

Palestinian journalist taking Israel to International Criminal Court

Nasser Abu Bakr, head of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. (Photo Source: Facebook).

Jerusalem24 – The Palestinian journalism syndicate in conjunction with the International Federation of Journalists in addition to the International Center of Justice for Palestinians are pressing a law suit against Israel through Bindsman, a UK based lawfirm.

“The importance of the complaint of journalists can’t be understated,” says Tayab Ali, a lawyer at Bindsman. He adds that “It’s accepted worldwide as a principle that a free press is fundamental to a Democratic society.” According to Ali, journalists circulate information to those in power to hold them accountable. They do so by highlighting abuses.

Ali says its important that when states take violent or lethal action against journalists that someone should hold these states accountable. That they are not forgotten. Since 2000, 46 Palestinian journalists who have been reporting on Human Rights violations have been killed without anyone being held accountable.

Bindsman believes that Israel is systematically targetting, attacking, maiming and killing journalists to prevent accountability. In Decemeber 2020, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the International Federation of Journalists, approached the United Nations Special Rapporteur about cases involving 4 journalists. Two who have been killed and two who have been injured while covering demonstrations. All of them were wearing clearly marked Press vests. They also presented the 2021 Israeli bombing of the towers that contained media outlets.

Investigations into the incidents took place by the syndicate and other groups, including the United Nations Commissioner. It was determined that the journalists, especially the ones killed, were targeted specifically and intentionally. Despite the UN investigation, in May 2021, the Israeli military targeted towers in the Gaza Strip that contained several media outlets.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda waits for former Congo vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba to enter the court room of the International Criminal Court to stand trial with Aime Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidele Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido, on charges including corruptly influencing witnesses by giving them money and instructions to provide false testimony, and presenting false evidence, in The Hague, Netherlands, September 29, 2015. (Photo Credit: AP/Peter Dejong/File)

“So we now have a complaint being drafted and sent to the ICC with regard to the original four complaints in the UN special rapporteur complaint,” says Ali. “What we now are aware of since the ICC opened its preliminary investigation or examination into a complaint that was originally submitted by the Palestinian Authority with regards to Israel’s international law violation,” he added. Ali was referring to the ICC decision in 2019 to open a preliminary examination into possible violations of international law.

A pre-trial Chamber ruling stated that the territorial area that can be looked upon by the ICC for war crimes was the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.

What’s really important about this is that whilst the prosecutor in the court and gave retrospective time period for its examination back to 2014, what the preliminary examination concluded was that the situation in Palestine is one in which crimes allegedly continue to be committed. “That means that the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate from 2014 up till now, which includes all of the complaints my client is submitting,” says Ali.

There are three objectives, really. This is not complicated. What we’re trying to do is to end Israel’s impunity for violations of international law. To hold to account the people that maimed or killed journalists. And finally, and very properly, to allow a free press to properly and safely hold Israel authorities to account.

– Tayab Ali



Mohammad Hamayel

Ramallah based journalist, Mohammad graduated from Al-Quds University with a B.A. in Media and Television. He has covered the 2015 Jerusalem Intifada as well as the Great March of Return for international media outlets. currently an editor/presenter at Jerusalem24. A UN alumni and a follower of global events and politics, especially American affairs.

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