Israel is lying about Gaza journalists. Here's the proof

Israel is lying about Gaza journalists. Here's the proof
4 min read
20 April, 2018
Video: Israeli military propaganda claiming journalists in Gaza are willingly being used as human shields by Palestinian militants has been debunked by video and witness accounts.
Israel's military claimed journalists in Gaza are willingly being used as human shields. [Getty]
Israeli military propaganda claiming journalists in Gaza are willingly being used as human shields by Palestinian militants has been debunked by video and witness accounts.

On 13 April, Israel's military used a photo from protests in the Gaza Strip as part of its public relations efforts to undermine mass demonstrations.

When first distributing the photo, Israel's military said the main person in it was "a terrorist wielding an item suspected of being an explosive device used for terror purposes while journalists and a handicapped person stand closely behind him".

"Once again, the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) cautions against being present in areas where the violent riots are taking place, as they are being used as camouflage for terror acts targeting Israel's security infrastructure and IDF troops."

The Israeli military's Arabic-language spokesman Avichay Adraee took it further, tweeting the photo to his 190,000 followers with fake dialogue written next to the people in it, including an AFP video journalist.

Dialogue next to the AFP journalist says: "I came alone, but I don't care if I am used as a human shield. If something happens, we'll accuse Israel."

Video footage of the incident shown in the photograph filmed by an AFP journalist and the reporter's description contradict the Israeli army's suggestions.

'Terror purposes'?

The footage shows a young man wearing a keffiyeh attempting, and failing, to light what appears to be a standard firework while lying on the ground amid black smoke from burning tyres.

The AFP journalist said he was at least 100 metres from Israeli forces at the time and later gave up and left the area.

The journalist, who has extensive experience in conflict zones, had positioned himself and his camera there in part because he believed he was far enough from the border fence to avoid unnecessary risk.

AFP has not been able to identify the person in the photo and video and it is not clear what he did before or after the footage was recorded.

Video: Watch what happened and judge for yourself

In response to questions from AFP, Israel's military said "these types of explosive devices were hurled over the security fence along the Gaza border several times during the violent riots in an effort to harm IDF troops.

"As for the related tweet, the content was posted to illustrate the dangerous and complex situation journalists and civilians put themselves in when they choose to be present in the violent riots organised by the Hamas terror organisation. 

"The illustration was not intended to specifically or personally target the journalist pictured."

Journalists targeted

Thirty-four Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded by Israeli forces since the protests began on 30 March, according to Gaza's health ministry.

The dead include Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja, who was wearing a vest clearly marked 'PRESS' when he was shot.

He was covering protests to the east of Khan Younis on 6 April when he was hit. At least seven other journalists were shot and injured that day.

"Palestinian photographer Yasser Mourtaja was wearing a vest marked "Press": he was obviously the victim of an intentional shot," Christophe Deloire, the Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders, said.

In an attempt to justify the killing, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused Murtaja of being a "terrorist", saying he held a rank similar to captain in Hamas' armed wing.

He provided no evidence to back up his claims.

Instead, a case file from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) documented that Murtaja was detained and beaten by Hamas security forces in 2015 while filming, leading to his eventual hospitalisation.

IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellanger accused Lieberman of a cover-up.

"It is clear that having murdered a journalist, the Israeli defence minister is more interested in spouting propaganda and engaging in a cover-up than in carrying out a thorough and transparent investigation and bringing Yasser's killers to justice," he said in a statement.

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