AFP correspondent in the Gaza Strip, Adel Zaanoun, said that the Israeli occupying forces constantly interfer in his work in a bid to stop journalists from reporting crimes committed against Palestinians.
He said that Israeli violations of journalists’ rights, including killing, injuring, and arrests, will not stop as it is considered a permanent Israeli policy with Palestinian media.
In an exclusive interview with ‘Arabstoday’, Zaanoun described his work under Israeli occupation as 'very difficult,' explaining that the pressure applied on a journalist's daily routine is extremly severe and affects his life as a human being.
In the same context, Zaanoun said that we as journalists came out of the last Israeli war on the Gaza Strip in need of substantial support, on both moral and psychological levels, while some of the journalists need counceling on these two levels.
Zaanoun elaborated that local Palestinian journalists need to develop their capabilities and learn how to protect themselves in situations of crisis, pointing out that the Doha Center for Media Freedom branch in Gaza, which he runs, works on holding workshops and training courses at home as well as abroad to achieve this very purpose, and to benefit from local and international experts in this aspect.
He considered the process of re-training local journalists a noble message, to which all should contribute, especially the Journalists’ Union and all institutions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, saying that we must be supported by all; Arab Journalists Union and International Federation of Journalists and all others should be available to offer support to enhance local Palestinian journalists and prepare them against the hazards of war.
He added that journalists need a specific strategy to rise to better media standards, and that individual creativity of some journalists needs collective vision and to transform such individual creativity into organized collective creativity. He believes that the Palestinian media face a great challenge because of ongoing turmoil, especially the issue of inprisonning journalists, particularly those among them who are journalists and who have endured – and still endure – the Israeli army's suppressive techniques.
Regarding his view of the Palestinian media scene, Zaanoun said that the body of Palestinian media needs to be unified, believing that the occurring Palestinian division has had negative impact on the constituents of the overall Palestinian media landscape, and stressing the need for Palestinian journalists to play their part in the reconciliation process and not contribute to the divisiveness.
He considered the responsibility of Palestinian journalists to be great, whether in the West Bank or in the Gaza Strip, in order to bring together opponent Palestinian parties and restore the people’s unity through a unified and non-fragmented media discourse.
Zaanoun called for an end to the division dominating all aspects of life which includes the restoration of the unity of Palestinian journalism.
He believes that Palestinian journalists have extensive experience in covering wars, which refined their expertise and made them capable of covering Arab revolutions exceptionally well. This led many media institutions to recruit Palestinian Journalists on account of the experience they gained by covering Israeli attacks on their people, adding “I’m proud of the involvement of increasing number of Palestinian journalists in Arab and foreign media, especially Arab satellite channels. Their experience promises a lot of good and they have strongly imposed themselves on the map of Arab media on account of their substantial experience and high professionalism”.