The Zionist regime of Israel has been systematically targeting and suppressing the Palestinian nation, whether by occupation of land, restriction of mobility, arrests and incarceration or war and bombardment. Yet in addition to all this, the Zionist regime is very intent on silencing the Palestinian people in an effort to cover the crimes they themselves commit and limit the world’s access to news in Palestine. This is an all out war and Palestinian journalists are on the front line. The Israeli regime has been systematically targeting Palestinian journalists and news networks. This documentary provides an in-depth look into the Israeli regime’s efforts at silencing Palestinian media and the courageous Palestinian journalists who have stood firmly to expose the truth. Through interviews with journalist who have been targeted by Israeli aerial bombardment and the family of journalist martyred for their just cause, this documentary will portray the plight of Palestinian journalists who have not surrendered to the Israeli regimes desire and are voicing their message with vigor and strength.
TIME CODE: 00:00 _ 05:00
Narration: Palestine is of great importance to the world's media because of the events and developments that take place there every day.
The Israeli occupation leaves no room for the Palestinians to spend a single day without inconveniences and it does it through various means of repression, murder, confiscation of land, desecration of secret sites and it makes it look like Palestinians are bad guys and the Israelis are the good ones.
This Campaign of deliberate misinformation continued for decades until a day came could provide a narrator and tdebunk the narrator of the occupation. Through local media they reached out to the world, communicating their massage, all the while aware of the risk involved.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mahmoud Elian, Executive Officer at Al Sha’b Radio: “As we know, there are a number of attempts to control countries by occupying the headquarters of Television or the occupation of public broadcasters. Israel was working on this aspect, to hit the Palestinian media from the first moment through the creation of fear. These steps have failed as of the start and middle and end of this operation because Palestinian media was ever-present -always at the scene. They plan for every upcoming Israeli operation and the way we can tell something is going on is when Israel starts to attack or bomb the media and bring about fear and confusion.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Sharif Al Nairab, Member of Palestianin Journalists Syndicate: “Israel’s branding of itself before the civilized world is a civilized and developed country with a national humanitarian project. I think the Palestinian press has managed and operated first and foremost based on a national theme dedicated to the homeland and national responsibility. We portray the image as it is. When Israel targets civilians and children, bombards houses, mosques, hospitals, organizations and besieges an entire people, we inform the civilized and free world about what Israel is doing. Oh civilized people and free nations, this is what Israel is doing to us.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mohammed Thuraya, Director General at Al Aqsa Channel: “What distinguished Al Aqsa media channel in this war was the influence it had on the Zionist Front. We were able, by the grace of God Almighty, to infiltrate Zionist media channels and broadcast to the resistance. As you know the Zionist government and media follow Al Aqsa space channel and this is confirmed by a Zionist analyst. We could enter homes outside Palestine on TV and radio and show how the resistance succeeded; and this got into the minds of the Zionist enemy within their own homes and influenced their policies as part of the psychological warfare that took place in the 2014 war.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ibrahim Dahir, Director General, At Al Aqsa Radio: “That is what the Zionist occupation did not want their own people and the people of the world to see that the Palestinian press has credibility over the news coming out of the Zionist press, which came from statements made by Israeli settlers. They don’t have credibility, but the people believe Palestinian media and this is the fruit of our determination and perseverance.”
Narration: The Israeli occupation and its army first tried to keep the media away from the scene of carnage during the 2014 Gaza war but when that didn’t work, they went after the journalist, some of the most important facilities destroyed by the Israeli occupation in 2014 were the five Al Aqsa media network facilities.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mohammed Thuraya, Director General at Al Aqsa Channel: “The headquarters at Burj Al Shoroq, finance management office, the offices at Al Nasr and the office you are at now were all targeted as well as the broadcast center.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ibrahim Dahir, Director General, At Al Aqsa Radio: “We all felt like this was the end for us when the broadcaster was targeted. But we don’t believe that we are more important than our children and our homes and the future of Palestine and our feeling do not shy away from embarrassment. Our purpose is that our message to the people should not be disrupted because we believe they need us every second. We were back on air after a few hours of begin attacked, which was met with a positive response from the community.”
TIME CODE: 05:00 _ 10:00
Narration: The Al Aqsa Media Network had aired resistance operational information that allowed the Palestinian resistance to defeat a group of Israeli soldiers; an operational failure for Israel was not an option and so they had to put a stop to the leaking of the truth to the outside world and then to replace the truth by way of omission or denial.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Broadcaster: “Repeat with me, Allah the almighty, Allah the almighty, Allah the almighty, No true God but Allah, Al Qassam brigades have just captured a soldier, Allah the almighty, Allah the almighty, praise be to Allah. Let those wounded people at Al Shajaia rejoice tonight as Al Qassam brigades captured a soldier.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Broadcaster: “Those words that prompt me to stand and salute Ezz Al Din Al Qassam brigades and the souls of their hero martyrs, I greet you from the heart. This is a victory speech that we have started sharing on this blessed night. All respect and salute is due to the Ezz Al Din Al Qassam brigades. We will start commentating after a short interval, stay tuned.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mohammed Thuraya, Director General at Al Aqsa Channel: “That which was reflected through this war that the Palestinian narrative is credible when it comes to news, we were keen about that, when the Zionist enemy said that five people were killed we would replay the same information, but without exaggeration of such, reporting that it as in fact 50 that were killed and we believed the narrative of the resistance that we knew was genuine. When the Qassam brigades said they killed 8 Israeli soldiers in Nahal Oz we published it and this was validated by the Zionist enemy later when they were forced to then confess that indeed 8 of their soldier were killed. We believe the resistance narrative because they are entitled to be believed.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ibrahim Dahir, Director General, At Al Aqsa Radio: “We believe we have revolutionary privacy that distinguishes us from others, Frankly we all received threatening letters to the order that several houses of colleagues were pounded with bombs. One of our colleagues in radio was bombed directly by an F-16 war jet. This man was a journalist who was not engaging in any resistance, but targeted due to his employment.”
Narration: The Al Aqsa Media Network was but one of 19 media organizations broadcasting from the Gaza Strip, which were bombed, leaving them partially or totally destroyed. Al Sha’b Radio was one such network building reduced to rubble.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mahmoud Elian, Executive Officer at Al Sha’b Radio: “We tried to take with us some devices such as a transmitter, which is an expensive device that a radio broadcast relies on. I remember at one time a colleague started to walk upstairs when all of a sudden an unmanned drone fired rockets at our building. We had to escape the building with no time to take anything with us, not even archives or any electronic device. Conditions were extremely bad when we were leaving as some were injured due to the panic and stumbling around at three o’clock in the morning, seeing nothing in front of them. The tower we worked in after being hit, collapsed into debris. When we couldn't grab anything from inside the radio station we thought we had lost our important archives; we believed we had lost a voice for the people, months of work.”
Narration:Another Palestinian media organization assaulted by Israeli forces was a national agency, which provides services to local and international TV stations. This particular site was filmed by surveillance camera while it was under attack by Israeli warplanes that let fly several missiles, which decimated the area – compelling and hard evidence of a war crime.
TIME CODE: 10:00 _ 15:00
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mohammed Shatat, Journalist: “We were offering round-the-clock coverage of the deadly night they targeted more than 30 houses throughout the Gaza Strip. Many people were displaced from their homes in the north and in Al Shajaia. We are not targeted as journalists individually, but they bombed our whole building bringing it down with three missiles. It means the occupation is trying to silence media, audio and images. It’s a crime. They wanted to kill the journalists in one hit. There were 36 journalists inside the building at the time. They targeted the building with no prior warning so that we had no chance to evacuate the building beforehand.”
Narration: It’s natural for journalists to be frightened, cautious, and not want to stay long in places that clearly are a potential target of Israeli missiles. Many evacuated from their news desks and resorted to working out of hotels in their continued efforts to write and prevent their words and video footage from being silenced by the invading Israeliforces.
SOUNDBITE [English] Akram Al Satarri, Reporter of Press TV: “I come from Al Hanun city, I had to go to Gaza because of the very hard security situation, as a journalist I come to stay in hotel where I am sure I can provide the needed life and life coverage surfaces to tell press TV. I was injured in the one day in the morning I was attending my work, I was doing this work in a area that there is known to be full of journalist from the different media and it includes some foreign journalists to doing some live coverage and media coverage for some international and regional media channels. This is the area that I was targeted and injured and when I sustained my injures I tried my best to stay awake I tried my best also to establish what was happening but it was far from my capacity because bad, strong explosion because of the surprise and because of the injury.”
Narration: Palestinian journalists continued to deliver audio and video reports during the war that so displeased the Israeli government and military, it issued a statement, which Palestinian journalists interpreted as a preface to direct targeting.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Sharif Al Nairab, Member of Palestianin Journalists Syndicate: “What happened is that Israel prior to targeting the first journalist in the Gaza Strip, Hamid Shehab, through their media office issued a public statement ordering foreign journalists who had entered the Gaza Strip to go to the beach hotel for sanctuary. We issued an immediate statement telling Palestinian journalists that it meant they were being targeted as long as they were not included in the statement, That was our perception of this.”
Narration: On the eve of July 9th, 2014 the first Israeli aerial bombardment took place on what is considered the high class neighborhood of Al Rimal in Gaza city. The target of the raid was an automobile carrying a sign that read PRESS on it and driven by journalist Hamed Shehab, with coworker Hatim Selmi at his side. They had stopped by Hatim’s home to briefly check on his family whom he had not seen in a while. Shehab remained in the car outside. A minute or two later while Hatim was with his family a missile hit their home and Hamed Shehab lost his partner.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Hatim Selmi, Media Journalist: “I was at my office working for the fourth day in a row without going home. I went then returned home, had a bath and changed my clothes. I saw my family, but decided not to see my mother as I knew she would become too emotional, you know how mothers get after their sons are away for a while. Hamid phoned me to say he is coming to my home. I went to the balcony to watch for him, but he said he couldn’t see me. He told me he was entering the street and I was looking down both sides to find him. He entered from the Kazim area, from the opposite lane because he was coming from Al Sabra neighborhood. So he said he is now in the street and I told him I saw him and ended the call. I was going downstairs. My mother was there and she commented that she had not seen me in a while and that she missed me. I was touched and moved back to kiss her hands and head and I was about to hold my brother’s hand when there was a huge explosion.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mohammed Helmi, Eye Witness: “It was Ramadan and we were leaving the mosque after Taraweeh prayers. We sat with my cousins and a few uncles next to a Press vehicle. Another car parked behind us to pick up Hatim Selmi, a journalist who was upstairs. The driver’s mobile rang and the next thing I was aware of, we all woke up at the hospital.”
TIME CODE: 15:00 _ 20:00
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Hatim Selmi, Media Journalist: “I held one victim in my arms, but he was lifeless. I moved to the next and they, too, were dead. Then another and another, I wanted to work my way through those that died so that I may find someone alive to rescue, the injured I could help. The driver was nowhere to be found. The car was unrecognizable the explosion was so severe. I searched for the driver, but found nothing until a first aid officer found his legs and half of his abdomen. The car suffered a direct hit. It was indeed the target. I imagined myself sitting next to him when the explosion occurred, cut to ribbons, dying together as martyrs.”
Narration: As the war on Gaza continued the targeting of journalists continued and escalated. Israeli occupational forces assassinated six journalists all in one month, which prompted many other journalists to go into hiding.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Fathi Rayan, Martyr Rami Rayan’s Father: “I would often warn him, but he always insisted on venturing out to film and record the truth for the world could see. It was in his blood and he worked passionately day and night. The only time you knew he was alive was when he would call and tell us he is in a certain place and safe.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Um Rami Rayan, Mother of Rami Rayan: “He would film the martyrs and help carry the injured on his searching to find them all. He used to come home asking about me and my day. He hid his blood-stained clothes from me because he knows I have high blood pressure and diabetes. He didn’t want me to feel upset.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Um Fat’hi Rayan, Mother of Fathi Rayan: “Rami was very courageous. Whenever I saw him putting on his helmet and vest I would ask - where are you going? He would say he was going to do his job and show the truth to the world. I reminded him that we have young children that need their father, but he always said what’s meant to happen will happen, we can’t lock him in a room.”
Narration:Rami Rayan did not respond to calls from his parents and wife to stay home and to not cover the war and go out in search of crimes being committed by the Israeli aggressors. Rami is a photographer and an only son. He is married with four children and his job supports them all the whole family. Rami’s family like other families of journalists worried incessantly every time a bombing or massacre occurred. It was a traumatic time for all.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Fathi Rayan, Martyr Rami Rayan’s Father: “I had my child Rami after 14 years of marriage. I spoiled and doted upon him as he was my only son. He married after high school and had two girls and two boys. I always scolded him saying he is an only son and all would be lost if someone were to knock on my door and tell me something happened to him - May he rest in peace he never listened to me. His work was a message he had to deliver, even if the price was his blood. He was prepared to die for the cause.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Um Fat’hi Rayan, Mother of Fathi Rayan: “I phoned him in his last days. He was away so much and I told him that he needs to come home and spend time with his children as they missed him so. He promised to come home early that night and he did come and we ate dinner together. He showed us some of what he had filmed horrible scenes from his trips accompanying the PRCS as they evacuated displaced people from Al Shajaia.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Um Rami Rayan, Mother of Rami Rayan: “The last time I saw him I was in afternoon prayer and he was about to leave. I raised my voice saying Allah Akbar to make him wait, then he came to the window-side and waited. Once I finished my prayers, I told him that his kids are still young and that because of the risk he was taking that one day he would die in the blink of an eye. He told me that Allah will look after them and told me that if I locked him in a box he would die so it is better that he live as he was meant to. I told him that he exhausted me with worry, but that he is also right in what he said.”
Narration: One day Rami journeyed out to cover a massacre in Al-Shajaeya neighborhood. His photos taken at the site were the last images he ever took. Scores of rockets and missiles rained down on the same area after the initial massacre and Rami was martyred.
SOUNDBITE [English] Akram Al Satarri, Reporter of Press TV: “The incident of injuring and killing, murdering Rami in Al-Shajaeya neighborhood when the Israeli occupation forces targeted the market killing more than 17 people from the Al-Shajaeya neighborhood, that was another evidence that our job is full of risks our life is at this state but also being surprised us but also made us determine that we are the guys of truth.”
TIME CODE: 20:00 _ 25:00
Narration: Rami’s family lost their son, husband, father and sole breadwinner. The only consolation for the family members is that Rami died exposing the truth embedded in the photographs he took of the massacres and other crimes committed against the Palestinian people.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Um Fat’hi Rayan, Mother of Fathi Rayan: “May he rest in peace. He has been martyred, which is a privilege. Praise the lord that he was chosen. He was a kind hearted and a good man. There is nothing worse though than when a child asks you - where is her father? You might answer that he is in paradise, but then the child says, “When it rains dad will get wet and so he should come here to stay warm with us.” You answer that it won’t rain on him as the lord protects him in paradise where he has everything.”
Narration: The war on Gaza lasted for fifty one days. By the end, dozens of journalists had been killed or injured, witnesses to Israel’s great loss over its battle to monopolize and control media exposure, which severely damaged its reputation on the world stage; witnesses to the success of Palestinian resistance in the face of one of the largest and most technologically advanced armies in the world today.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mohammed Thuraya, Director General at Al Aqsa Channel: “Here there are 7 martyrs and about 30 wounded. Of the wounded, some have permanent while others have mild disabilities. In every war by Israeli aggression there is a great sacrifice from the Palestinian media sector and I can tell you that we have no problem in giving our souls freely to reveal our plight to the world and to expose the hellish barbarism of the Zionist regime.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Sharif Al Nairab, Member of Palestianin Journalists Syndicate: “We have lost in this war 18 brothers from the family of the press in Gaza. If journalist didn’t put their lives on the line to expose Israel's crimes, if they did not succeed in this mission to be the messengers of the occupied peoples then they would have not been targeted by the Israeli army. I think the Palestinian press succeeded in their endeavors that shows there love for their homeland.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mahmoud Elian, Executive Officer at Al Sha’b Radio: “There was a distinct challenge this time in that the Palestinian media became a serious counter weapon versus the Western-dominated Israeli media and narrative. We were able to refute their narrative of lies and manipulation of the truth this time. They overrode our signal, but we broadcasted from other stations. When Al Sha’b radio station was targeted the Al Quds station was saying here is Al Sha’b voice from the studios of Al Quds station; when Watan and Al Aqsa stations were targeted we said we were ‘their’ voice. We made it clear if they targeted one studio that the whole Gaza radio network would all be the voice for Al Quds or Al Sha’b or any other Palestinian station attacked. We think we succeeded in this battle to make the truth in war prevail and to successfully counter many of the lies broadcasted as Israeli propaganda.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mohammed Shatat, Journalist: “Even if a war erupted right now, we will still continue our work. For instance, I am from the neighborhood of Beit Hanoun where almost every family has been displaced. My family stayed initially in a collective center. Our house was targeted and thirdly my place of work at Al Watania media was taken out by a missile. It took me just four hours to get back to my duties. Every journalist is subject to risks just as the families and the thousands of children displaced. I didn’t see my family for 52 days, even when injured I kept on working. Palestinian journalists are fierce workers in their dedication to expose the occupation in all its aspects.”
Narration: Almost immediately after the war came to an end, media personnel returned to their offices to work and staff of the destroyed networks found new premises to set up in and continue their brave cause.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mahmoud Elian, Executive Officer at Al Sha’b Radio: “As soon as the radio station was bombed by an Israeli air strike we were back in the saddle coming up with ways to get back on air reporting events, even with the loss of the archive and the old premises of Al Sha’b, we started working and thinking of how to revive our efforts despite the sustained risks, nothing will stop us from our path to serve the Palestinian cause.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mohammed Thuraya, Director General at Al Aqsa Channel: “Al Aqsa radio station represented the resistance media, a voice that will never run out of a means to continue. We have infinite alternatives and options that the enemy is not even aware of. Our signal will never be permanently ended, with Allah’s will we will return to the airwaves always one time more than we are knocked down.”
Narration: they may have killed or deported journalists but their pictures are immortal witness for all the harendless atrocities committed by the Israeli occupation on Palestinian the soil.