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RSF asks ICC to investigate Israeli sniper fire on Palestinian journalists

A Palestinian Red Crescent paramedic tends to an injured photojournalist during a demonstration near the border with Israel east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, 15 May 2018
A Palestinian Red Crescent paramedic tends to an injured photojournalist during a demonstration near the border with Israel east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, 15 May 2018

SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 15 May 2018.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) today formally asked the International Criminal Court to investigate what it regards as war crimes by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) against Palestinian journalists covering protests in Gaza since 30 March.

Submitted to ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda a few hours before today's UN Security Council meeting and based on article 15 of the Rome Statute (which established the ICC), the request concerns the direct shots that IDF snipers have fired at some 20 Palestinian journalists during the "March of Return" protests in Gaza.

In RSF's view, these are crimes that clearly fall under the ICC's competence.

"The Israeli authorities could not have been unaware of the presence of journalists among the civilian demonstrators, and therefore failed in the elementary duty of precaution and differentiation when targeting these protected persons with live rounds," RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

“These deliberate and repeated violations of international humanitarian law constitute war crimes. While referring them to the International Criminal Court, RSF calls on the Israeli authorities to strictly respect international law.”

Various sources have corroborated that the following journalists were hit by shots while covering demonstrations east of Gaza City yesterday: Omar Hamdane, a cameraman working for the Algerian national TV broadcaster ENTV, sustained gunshot injuries to the foot; Al Jazeera reporter Wael Dahdouh was injured in the right hand; Zain Media cameraman Mohammed Abu Dahrouj was hit in the left leg; and Yasser Qudeih, a freelance photographer working for the pro-Hamas daily Palestine, sustained a gunshot injury to the stomach and was taken to the intensive care unit at Gaza's European Hospital.

Two journalists also sustained gunshot injuries near the city of Khan Younis. Abdullah al-Shorbagi, a reporter for the pro-Hamas Khan Younis Media Network, was shot in the left foot while Nihad Fuad, a reporter for Forsan al-Erada community radio, was hit in the head and was taken to Gaza's European Hospital. Farhan Hashem Abu Hadayd, a reporter for the Safad Press website, sustained a gunshot injury to the left leg to the east of the city of Rafah.

Two Palestinian journalists have been killed by live rounds fired by Israeli soldiers since 30 March, the date of the start of the "March of Return" protests by Palestinians along the border between Gaza and Israeli.

They are Yaser Murtaja, 30, a photographer for the independent Ain Media agency, and Ahmed Abu Hussein, 27, a reporter for Radio Shaab and Bisann News. Both were clearly identified as journalists, either by a vest or by a helmet bearing the word “Press.” In all, at least 20 other journalists have sustained gunshots injuries, of whom at least three were clearly identified as media personnel.

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