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Global outrage mounts over Israeli killing of Yaser Murtaja, from ‘NYT’ to Federation of Arab Journalists

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The killing by an Israeli sniper of Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja last Friday at the Gaza fence, even as Murtaja wore a PRESS flak jacket, is drawing international outrage. Not as much outrage as it should draw, to be sure. But it is mounting, and Israel is on the defensive in countless venues.

The New York Times has editorialized sternly about Murtaja’s killing, the General Federation of Arab Journalists wants the case prosecuted at the International Criminal Court, and the AFP is reporting that Murtaja was detained and beaten by Hamas just three years ago, in a thorough rebuke to the Israeli government’s claim that Murtaja was a Hamas officer.

The Federation of Arab Journalists will ask “the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israel and demand the Palestinian Authority institute a lawsuit at the court” for the shootings of six journalists last Friday, according to a statement from the group. Following “an extraordinary meeting at its Cairo headquarters,” the Arab journalists blasted the world’s complacence about the attacks.

“What is more dangerous is what we see now, which is an unjustified silence from the Arab world and silence from the world in general about these crimes,” the statement said.

Says Muayyad al-Lami, an Iraqi who is the general secretary of the federation:

“If an Arab citizen were killed in an Arab country, we would see statements and condemnations. But when a large number of unarmed Palestinians are killed, we do not see anyone speak up. The Palestinian people were not carrying knives in this uprising. Land Day and Nakba Day are holy days.”

Michael Moore also called on journalists to denounce the killing:

A documentary filmmaker, Yaser Murtaja, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers on Fri. while wearing helmet & vest w/ “PRESS” marked on them. He was filming a nurse, a doctor & a 12-yr old student who were protesting. I ask the documentary community 2 pls speak up about this travesty.

Here is the AFP story on Murtaja’s detention by Hamas:

A case file from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) documented how Murtaja was detained and beaten by Hamas security forces in 2015 while filming.

The file, seen by AFP, said Murtaja and three other colleagues were filming the demolition of a home near the Israeli border when a man demanded to see their documents.

After they refused, a jeep belonging to the Hamas security forces arrived and “pulled the photographer Yasser Murtaja into their jeep without explaining what was going on.”

It said inside the van he was beaten by Hamas police, leading to his eventual hospitalisation. After an interrogation, his photographs were eventually seized.

Lastly, here is the New York Times editorial that focuses on Murtaja, published yesterday: “Israel’s Violent Response to Nonviolent Protests.” The Times concedes that the protests have been nonviolent by and large– so (are you sitting down?) Israel shouldn’t use live ammunition.

[I]n general, the protests have been peaceful, with many demonstrators staying far back from the heavily fortified fence to picnic and hold a tent camp sit-in. There has been no apparent reason for Israel to use live ammunition.

The Times points out the obvious contradiction in Israeli statements, as well as the ugly claims by the Israeli defense minister:

The Israeli military has said its forces did not intentionally shoot journalists. But that assertion was undercut by Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli defense minister, who said on Tuesday that Mr. Murtaja was a Hamas captain who had used a drone to collect intelligence on Israeli forces. That volatile charge is at odds with independent news reporting and, if it is false, could put other journalists at grave risk. Mr. Lieberman provided no proof for the claim and further demonstrated his disdain for justice, rule of law and the role of a free press by arguing on Sunday that there are “no innocent people” in Hamas-run Gaza.

It slams the Trump administration for not affirming the right to demonstrate:

An independent investigation into the killings is needed. But on March 31, after the first deaths, the United States, in support of Israel, blocked a proposed United Nations Security Council statement condemning the Israeli response, urging a transparent inquiry and affirming the right of Palestinians to demonstrate peacefully.

Such ideas should not be controversial. But ordinary Palestinians have few defenders, and much of the world has been shockingly mute about what’s happening in Gaza. Journalists have a right to work, and people have a right to demonstrate peacefully — and to assume that responsible authorities will ensure that they can do so without being shot.

Donald Johnson, a hasbara spotter for us, writes that the Times editorial is a “step forward,” but he’s not celebrating.

I am not going to get too excited about this, because they are so gingerly about it.  What it shows is that Israel hasn’t adapted to the reality that everyone has a camera now.

Back during the Second Intifada, Israel killed thousands of Palestinians. Mohammed al-Durrah, 12, was killed in a famous incident in Gaza and Israel claimed he was shot by Palestinians in a crossfire and James Fallows at the Atlantic wrote a sympathetic account of how Israel was accused and might not be guilty. Back then the mainstream thought it was shocking and out of character for Israel to kill civilians deliberately. And accusations were easily denied. It is harder to do so now.

The real problem for Israel is the open arrogance. They are barely even trying to deny their brutality.  They give the NYT no cover.  If they had some halfway sane liberal Zionist who made the right noises about peace and wasn’t so blatantly pro settlement they wouldn’t have any problems with the NYT.

I’d note that the usual chorus of Israel supporters, from Jeffrey Goldberg to Tamara Cofman Wittes to Jennifer Rubin, is still silent about the killing of Yaser Murtaja and 30 other Palestinians by snipers. Usually they offer some kind of defense. Israel is losing its cover in the west. Part of Yaser Murtaja’s legacy as a journalist is that he is accelerating that trend.

Thanks to Allison Deger for translation.
 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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18 Responses

  1. eljay
    April 12, 2018, 1:57 pm

    … I’d note that the usual chorus of Israel supporters, from Jeffrey Goldberg to Tamara Cofman Wittes to Jennifer Rubin, is still silent about the killing of Yaser Murtaja and 30 other Palestinians by snipers. Usually they offer some kind of defense. …

    Labelling Mr. Murtaja not-innocent – which, according to jon s at least, would make him a legitimate target for massacre – appears not to have worked, so tactically it makes sense for these Zionists to keep their heads down and wait for the storm of outrage to abate or for some other distraction – a U.S.-led war on Syria and/or Iran and/or Russia? – to come along.

    • Mooser
      April 13, 2018, 5:04 pm

      “which, according to jon s at least, would make him a legitimate target for massacre”

      And everybody knows you can’t have a one-man massacre, so his family, house and village, none of which can prove they are innocent, must go, too.

      In fact, I’m sure “Jon s” would say making laws against Jews carrying out massacres as detailed in the Bible is an anti-Semitic action, and the massacre is a mitzvah If we just “take an extreme example…”

      • gamal
        April 13, 2018, 6:15 pm

        Min ajli dhalika katabna ala banii isra-iila annahu man qatala nafsam bighayri nafsin aw fasadin fee al-ardi fakannama qatala alnnasa jameean waman ahyaha fakaannama ahya alnnasa jamean walaqad jat-hum rusuluna balbayyinati thumma inna katheeran minhum baada thalika fee al-ardi lamusrifun ( that was exhausting, may be a bit off, but still chant it, what’s the harm)

        all because Cain felt bad and

        From that time, we ordained for the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul other than for a soul or for spreading corruption in the earth then it is as if he has killed all mankind, and whoever saves a life then it is as if he has saved all mankind. And surely we sent our messengers with clear signs yet notwithstanding many of them continue to commit excesses.”

        5.32

        you have to set it to auto update otherwise religion is going to hold you back.

      • RoHa
        April 13, 2018, 8:33 pm

        “Chant it, what’s the harm”

        What’s the harm? It may turn out that the Qur’an isn’t the word of God after all. Then we’d be associating with false prophets, and Satan would take our souls and convert them into vowels. Bit of a risk, don’t you think?

      • Mooser
        April 14, 2018, 1:18 pm

        ” Bit of a risk, don’t you think?”

        Not really. If our souls were vowels, they could only be sold once. More than that is double jeopardy.

  2. JLewisDickerson
    April 12, 2018, 7:44 pm

    RE: “The real problem for Israel is the open arrogance. They are barely even trying to deny their brutality. They give the NYT no cover. If they had some halfway sane liberal Zionist who made the right noises about peace and wasn’t so blatantly pro settlement they wouldn’t have any problems with the NYT.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Why should the Likudnik Government of Israel care what the editors of the liberal, elite, anti-Semitic, ‘fake news’- purveying New York Times think when it has the likes of Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, John “The ‘Stache” Bolton, Jason Greenblatt, David “The Settlers’ Advocate” Friedman, Sheldon Adelson, MbS, etc. in its very large cargo pocket(s)!
    LIKUDNIK ISRAEL SEZ: “HEY NYT, YOU CAN JUST KISS OFF (INTO THE AIR)!” *

    * VIOLENT FEMMES – Kiss Off ~~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gproa6vzgws

  3. genesto
    April 13, 2018, 1:21 pm

    More evidence the the Great March is an unqualified success!! None of Israel’s attempts to deflect and distract from, or outright lie about, what’s happening is working. Even the Zionist-controlled NYT can’t run and hide anymore.

    The best case scenario for the Palestinians as a product of the March is playing itself out!

    • catalan
      April 13, 2018, 2:14 pm

      “The best case scenario for the Palestinians as a product of the March is playing itself out!” Genesto
      I agree with you and hope for many more successes like that for the Palestinians. I hope they continue to succeed like that every weekend. This is indeed the best case scenario.

      • eljay
        April 13, 2018, 2:33 pm

        || catalan: … I agree with you and hope for many more successes like that for the Palestinians. I hope they continue to succeed like that every weekend. This is indeed the best case scenario. ||

        Yup, if you’re lucky your “Jewish State” will do a real number on the Palestinians. Maybe not as good as Jews did to Amalekites, but maybe good enough to satisfy you.

  4. catalan
    April 13, 2018, 2:48 pm

    “Yup, if you’re lucky your “Jewish State” will do a real number on the Palestinians”
    I have accepted that Zionism is doomed, especially considering that it is being deprived of the delicious Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. So I figure, enjoy the party while it lasts. And since we all agree the Palestinians are having a huge success with the great march to return, what’s not to like?

    • eljay
      April 13, 2018, 3:18 pm

      || catalan: … I have accepted that Zionism is doomed, especially considering that it is being deprived of the delicious Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. So I figure, enjoy the party while it lasts. And since we all agree the Palestinians are having a huge success with the great march to return, what’s not to like? ||

      I’m sure you have e-mail in New Mexico so you must have gotten the memo that the “Jewish State” will last a Thousand Years! You keep dissing Zionism and the “Jewish State” like that and ZioHQ will rescind your membership.

      • catalan
        April 13, 2018, 3:36 pm

        “I’m sure you have e-mail in New Mexico so you must have gotten the memo that the “Jewish State” will last a Thousand Years!”
        I am not on any email list involving Israel. Nonetheless, if there was such a memo, it was before the ice cream boycotts. NO regime can last a thousand years without ice cream from Vermont.

      • Mooser
        April 13, 2018, 4:56 pm

        “I am not on any email list involving Israel.”

        You don’t send a penny to Israel, do you? If you want to abscond to the Holy Land with the assets and avoid extradition, you might want to change that.

        But it leads to an interesting question: Where, if anywhere, do you get your information about Israel today, besides Mondoweiss?

      • catalan
        April 13, 2018, 5:14 pm

        “You don’t send a penny to Israel, do you? “
        Of course not – it’s a rich country with free healthcare and all sorts of social services. I figure, I will let Gal Gadot and her billionaire husband give money to charity. I actually don’t even particularly like Israeli culture although there are some good things there. Mondoweiss has alerted me though to the continued pathological hatred of Jews even in the comfortable United States. Therefore, my views are shaped simply by desire for self preservation.

      • Mooser
        April 13, 2018, 8:19 pm

        .” Therefore, my views are shaped simply by desire for self preservation.”

        Let’s see, you haven’t invested a penny in Israel, don’t know a things about Israel (Except, ROTLMSJAO, what you read in Mondo.)
        But you are convinced Israel will take you in when you abscond? (Of course the wave of anti-Semitism in the US will allow you to leave with all your assets)

        That sure doesn’t sound like self-preservation to me.

      • Mooser
        April 13, 2018, 8:41 pm

        “Of course not. Israel is a rich country…”

        I guess everybody is entitled to their own type of BDS. And I must admit, your method, refusing to give yourself, and declaring that Israel is too rich to need any donations, is especially effective.

        ” it’s a rich country with free healthcare and all sorts of social services.”

        So all those ads are just a fraud on gullible Jews? Glad you warned us.

  5. pabelmont
    April 13, 2018, 5:00 pm

    “Israel is losing its cover in the west.”

    Well, not where it counts. These killings are provocations, but not directed towards Palestinians — directed to the American Congress and administration. And those Americans have failed to react morally. They have backed down, as usual. American pols give Israel “cover” and nothing else counts much.

    Do the Palestinians threaten Israeli “security”? Certainly not. But any moral reaction from American pols would indeed threaten Israeli security. So it is important to know at whom those bullets are being aimed and to realize that — one way or another — the kindly folks in Washington know that they are themselves ther targets of those bullets, which are stand-ins for AIPAC’s money.

    • chocopie
      April 13, 2018, 7:37 pm

      I agree, it often feels as if they are testing the waters to see if there’s any push back. They would do whatever they think they’d get away with.

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