PARIS, France - Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has applied to the International Criminal Court for an investigation into what it regards as war crimes by the Israeli army against Palestinian journalists covering protests in Gaza since 30 March.
Submitted to ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda a few hours before Tuesday'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 Israel Defense Forces snipers fired at some twenty two Palestinian journalists during the "March of Return" protests in Gaza.
An RFS statement claim the shootings 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, said RFS, have corroborated that the following journalists were hit by shots while covering demonstrations east of Gaza City Monday: 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 along the border between Gaza and Israel.
They were Yaser Murtaja, 30, a photographer for the independent Ain Media agency, and Ahmed Abu Hussein, 27, a reporter for Shaab and Bisann News. Both, say RFS, 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.