Geneva - Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and Reporters Without Borders organized a webinar on Tuesday as part of a pressure and advocacy campaign led by the two organizations to demand that the Israeli authorities lift the travel ban on Palestinian journalists and respect their right to freedom of movement.
The webinar was hosted by European Parliament Member Margrete Auken, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk Sabrina Bennoui, and Euro-Med Monitor’s Program and Communication Officer Muhammad Shehadeh. Journalists Majdoleen Hassouna and Thaer Fakhoury—both banned from traveling—also participated in the webinar.
“It is very clear that journalists are being punished for doing their work,” Auken said.
“This is one of Israel’s brutal violations against media and journalists, and these practices are part of the broader violations of apartheid and occupation against Palestinians in general. It is clear that the EU countries are not shouldering their responsibilities towards Israeli violations,” she added.
Both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip must respect the right of journalists to freedom of expression, she said.
For her part, Bennoui said that Israeli intelligence agencies and courts use ‘case confidentiality’ as a pretext for giving no reason and for maintaining these restrictions indefinitely in a completely arbitrary manner in the name of national security.
Shehadeh pointed out that Euro-Med Monitor will continue its efforts in the European Parliament and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to demand pressuring Israel to lift its travel and movement restrictions on Palestinian journalists.
In a petition organized by Euro-Med Monitor and Reporters Without Borders, 20 MEPs had called on Israel to respect the freedom of movement of Palestinian journalists and to lift all of its arbitrary travel bans in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.
The petition expressed serious concerns regarding Israeli authorities’ use of arbitrary restrictions, such as travel bans, detentions, or home break-ins against Palestinian journalists. “Such measures pose a serious threat to the independence of Palestinian journalism and to freedom of speech and expression in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the petition read.
In November 2021, Euro-Med Monitor released a report documenting how Israeli security services have used travel bans to coerce Palestinian journalists into collaborating against fellow Palestinians or refraining from working with certain media outlets or reporting on certain topics.
Some journalists further claim that after refusing Israeli authorities' demands, they have been subjected to different forms of intimidation and harassment, including home raids, arbitrary detention, and harsh interrogations.
In December, Euro-Med Monitor and RSF launched the campaign #LetMajdoleenOut on social media. The two organizations called for an immediate end to the Israeli travel bans that prevent dozens of Palestinian journalists, including Majdoleen Hassona, winner of RSF Press Freedom Prize for Independence, from leaving the West Bank and Gaza Strip.