The Malta Independent 19 May 2022, Thursday

PEN Malta calls on Maltese government to protest to Israel over killing of journalist

Friday, 13 May 2022, 11:42 Last update: about 6 days ago

PEN Malta wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister Ian Borg and President of the EU Parliament Roberta Metsola urging them to protest 'in the most vociferous manner possible' with the Israeli government, in the wake of the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11, 2022.

PEN Malta is an organisation of writers and journalists who fight for freedom of expression. Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, one of the satellite channel's best-known reporters, was shot and killed on Wednesday while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank.

In his letter, the President of PEN Malta Immanuel Mifsud said: "We are not satisfied by the explanations given by the Israeli authorities, nor do we feel it is enough to have an investigation of the nature proposed by the Israeli government. We do feel strongly, however, that there needs to be an international independent investigation that establishes the facts to ensure those responsible for this murder are held accountable."

"We understand from your recent declarations that relations with Israel are among your priorities. I hope that in this context you will use all your influence, both directly with Israel, as well as on every other international platform, to condemn this killing, which witnesses point towards the Israeli military."

PEN said that words of condemnation, however, are inadequate "when Israel is allowed to break international law repeatedly."

"The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh is not the first killing of a journalist by the Israeli military. Last year, Israel bombed a tower block full of residents and media offices belonging to international organisations, including Al Jazeera and Associated Press. On 7 April 2018, Israeli soldiers shot and killed photo journalist Yasser Murtaja, 31, in the Gaza Strip, while he was doing his job. On 13 April 2018, Israeli soldiers killed photo journalist Ahmed Abu Hussein, 24, while he was doing his job.

Since 2018, Israeli security forces committed 140 violations against journalists. More than 30 journalists have been killed since 2000. In spite of this, Israel was allowed to carry on with impunity and avoiding justice. The total absence of any sanction or action from the international community in Israel's regard is in itself a guarantee that these acts will keep happening and the injustice keeps growing. As long as governments like ours keep their eyes closed to these serious violations of international law, journalists will keep getting killed for merely telling the inconvenient truth about Israel."

"I urge you to use all your influence so that Israel stops this attack on freedom of expression and to help ensure justice for the victims of this violence."


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