Geneva – The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med Monitor) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) launched a media campaign on Wednesday, calling on Israel to end its restrictions on Palestinian journalists arbitrarily banned from traveling over their work.
Human rights and international media activists participated in the campaign by using the hashtag #LetMajdoleenOut to defend the right of Palestinian journalists to freedom of movement and travel.
Euro-Med Monitor and Reporters Without Borders issued a joint statement earlier this month, condemning the Israeli restrictions on Palestinian journalists as a punishment for their work.
The Israeli authorities impose illegal and unjustified restrictions on the movement and travel of Palestinian journalists in the Palestinian territories and punish them for their journalistic work in contravention of Israel’s responsibilities under international law.
Extorting Palestinian journalists over their right to freedom of movement and travel is a setback for freedoms of expression and journalistic work in the Palestinian territories that undermines the people's right to know the truth.
The campaign focused on the case of journalist Majdoleen Hassouna, winner of this year’s RSF Press Freedom Prize for Independence, demanding the lift of travel restrictions on her and her fellow Palestinian journalists.
Under this ban, the Israeli authorities prevent Hassouna from leaving the country to collect her award in person or even return to Turkey, where she was staying before finding herself stranded in the Palestinian territories, which are controlled by Israel.
On November 29, Euro-Med Monitor released a report entitled “Punishing Journalists: Israel's restrictions on freedom of movement and travel against Palestinian journalists.” The report documented the Israeli intelligence service and the Israeli General Security Service’s (Shin Bet) blackmailing Palestinian journalists over their right to freedom of movement.
Several journalists told Euro-Med Monitor that Israeli officers told them that the travel ban could only be lifted if they work for Israel or cooperate with it in providing security information about Palestinians.
The number of journalists affected by this freedom-depriving measure has exceeded 20, according to information obtained by Reporters Without Borders.
Palestinian journalists are subjected to physical and psychological attacks, including beatings, detention, home invasions, and threats of prosecution if they refuse the Israeli authorities' offers to give up their journalistic work.
At times, the Israeli intelligence uses “case confidentiality” to conceal the real reasons for the bans on the one hand and to keep these restrictions in place indefinitely on the other hand.
Depriving Palestinian journalists of the right to movement affects their other rights. By obstructing their movement inside and outside the Palestinian territories and preventing them from reaching different regions and cities to practice their work, these bans limit journalists’ opportunities and undermine their right to earn a living. Furthermore, journalists needing types of medical treatment that are not available in the Palestinian territories find themselves trapped, as they cannot move to other cities or countries to receive the necessary health care.
In addition, these restrictions affect Palestinian journalists’ right to education since they cannot leave the country to study abroad, and those banned from traveling are forced to give up scholarships and other opportunities due to the ban imposed on them.
Travel bans also deprive journalists of their right to express their opinion, as the Israeli authorities force them to remain silent about human rights violations in exchange for allowing them to enjoy their other rights.
Some journalists are denied the right to start a family or family reunification, such as Hassouna, who cannot travel to her husband.