In the past two decades, Israel has taken no accountability for the killings of 20 journalists.
According to a new report from watchdog organization the Committee to Protect Journalists, among the killings in the past 22 years, Israeli officials have consistently ignored evidence and witness claims, as well as cleared soldiers of wrongdoing before the end of official investigations.
The report comes one year after the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist who was killed in a military operation in the city of Jenin.
“Ahead of the first anniversary of Abu Akleh’s death, CPJ revisited these 20 cases and found a pattern of Israeli response that appears designed to evade responsibility,” the report states. “Israel has failed to fully investigate these killings, launching deeper probes only when the victim is foreign or has a high-profile employer. Even then, inquiries drag on for months or years and end with the exoneration of those who opened fire.”
Of the 20 killings since 2001, seven — including Abu Akleh’s — occurred in the West Bank, with 13 in the Gaza Strip. Hamas currently governs the Gaza Strip, with the West Bank under Israeli control. The vast majority of the killings — 18 — were Palestinian journalists. Two were European foreign correspondents. There have been no Israelis.
The country's military, the Israeli Defense Forces, have levied terrorism accusations against journalists with no cause, as well as routinely disregarded press insignias, the report found. In at least 13 of the cases, witness testimonies and independent reports were ignored.
"Despite numerous IDF probes, no one has ever been charged or held responsible for these deaths," the report states. "The impunity in these cases has severely undermined the freedom of the press, leaving the rights of journalists in precarity."
In concludes: “The result is always the same — no one is held responsible."