By Safvan Allahverdi
WASHINGTON (AA) - The State Department on Thursday skirted the issue of Israel’s violence against journalists while talking about those in the profession who were killed while performing their duties across the world.
Speaking in the context of World Press Freedom Day, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert drew attention to slain journalists in Malta, Mexico, Russia and Afghanistan.
"We urge accountability for the murder of journalists in Malta, Mexico, Russia and Slovakia and the apparent assassination of a BBC Pashto reporter in Afghanistan on Monday," Nauert said.
However, she did not mention Palestinian photojournalist Yasser Murtaja, journalist Ahmad Abu Hussein and others who were killed or wounded by the Israeli army during peaceful protests in Gaza.
Murtaja, 30, was shot in the abdomen by Israeli troops on April 6 this year while covering rallies on the Gaza-Israel border. He succumbed to his injury the following day and his funeral was attended by hundreds of mourners.
He was targeted by Israeli forces despite wearing a helmet and a vest on which the word “Press” was clearly emblazoned.
Murtaja and Abu Hussein’s deaths have shown once again the risks that Palestinian reporters face while plying their trade.
"There are unfortunately a lot of journalists who die all around the world. I'm not going to be able to list every single death of a journalist around the world, although that is certainly important and significant," Nauert said in response to a question on why she did not mention Israel.
Due to her vague answer, a number of reporters reminded Nauert that those Palestinian journalists were deliberately killed by Israeli soldiers even though they did not pose any kind of threat. But she once again dodged the question, saying she did not have any information on the incidents.
Instead, Nauert said the U.S. understands that Israel has a right to defend itself.
She also mentioned arrested journalists in other countries such as Myanmar, Cuba, Turkey, Egypt and China.