News Release

Israel: * Killing Journalists * Are “Prisoners” Actually Hostages?


JAFAR JAFARI,, @MayadeenEnglish    Jafari is with Al-Mayadeen, a Beirut-based pan-Arab news channel. Israel just killed two of their media workers, Farah Omar and Rabih Me’mari in Lebanon, in what the network charges was a deliberate attack.

A petition signed by hundreds of journalists earlier this month stated: “Israel’s devastating bombing campaign and media blockade in Gaza threatens newsgathering in an unprecedented fashion. We are running out of time. More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s four-week siege. Included in the mounting death toll are at least 36 journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in what the group calls the deadliest conflict for journalists since it began tracking deaths in 1992. Scores more have been injured, detained, gone missing or seen their family members killed.”

Jafari said today: “Most of the Palestinians — mostly women and children — being released as part of the apparent deal were never tried. They were detained indefinitely without trial. Calling them prisoners is dubious, in fact ‘hostages’ may well be a better term. What do you call women and children who are captured by foreign gunmen and held without trial?” See comments by Israeli historian Ilan Pappé on Palestinians being detained by Israel.

Jafari notes that Israel uses various legal mechanisms to indefinitely detain people and has done so for deaces “as a remnant of the British occupation of Palestine ‘Emergency Laws,’ Article 111 of 1945. …    “In essence, this measure produces massive political detainees without charge, allowing the occupation authorities to keep the subjects for indefinite times, typically renewed every six months, for as long as the military ‘governor’ determines necessary.”He states that during the first intifada in 1987, “Israeli authorities empowered lower-level military ranks, officers, and soldiers, under Military Order 1228, dated March 17, 1988, to execute indetermined detention of many Palestinians. The flood of detainees, then, prompted the Israeli occupation authorities to build a ‘new’ prison in the Negev desert, called ‘Ansar 3,’ after the ‘Ansar‘ infamous torture chambers in southern Lebanon during its occupation 1982-2000.    “Specific numbers of detainees are not easily available but are estimated to be 2000 to 4000.”

Politico reports that “there was some concern in the administration about an unintended consequence of the pause: that it would allow journalists broader access to Gaza and the opportunity to further illuminate the devastation there and turn public opinion on Israel.”   Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada, citing Israeli media, notes that released Israelis will be detained “incommunicado away from the media to make sure they can’t tell the truth about their experience.”