B’Tselem to High Court: Force IBA to run advert listing Palestinian dead

IBA says ad would not be balanced, would make it seem like broadcasting association was taking sides in debate over IDF, Hamas’s war-waging tactics.

A Palestinian girl who fled shelling that hit a UN-run school sits in shock at a hospital in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A Palestinian girl who fled shelling that hit a UN-run school sits in shock at a hospital in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
B’Tselem filed a petition on Monday with the High Court of Justice demanding it compel Israel Broadcast Authority Radio (IBA) to run an ad that would include some of the names of Gazan civilians killed during the current war.
The petition quoted the famous line of Zelda’s poem “everyone has a name.”
The application said that the IBA had refused on the grounds that the ad would be a “politically controversial” statement, that the ad itself would not be balanced and would make it seem like the IBA was taking sides in the debate over the IDF/ Hamas’s war-waging tactics.
It added that it had already lost an appeal of the decision within the IBA’s internal appeals system.
In its petition, B’Tselem gave an overview of casualties in the war, saying that from July 8-26 more than 870 Palestinians had been killed in the Gaza Strip.
The NGO added that two Israeli civilians and one civilian foreign national had been killed in Israel as well as 43 IDF soldiers.
A statement by B’Tselem executive director Haggai El-Ad said, “I shudder to think that many more have been killed since. My heart goes out to the bereaved families, and the sadness does not relent.”
The petition said that more than 170 children (under the age of 15) have been killed in the Gaza Strip, mentioning Rim al-Kilani, 12; Ghaidaa Siyam, 7; Siraj Abu Jame’, 4; Suhelah Abu Jame’, 3 as examples and noting a full list available on B’Tselem’s website.
Responding to the IBA grounds for refusing the ad, the NGO said that the whole point of the ad was to create balance where there had been none.
According to B’Tselem, the Israeli media has stayed far away from naming or coverage of Palestinian casualties, focusing heavily on Israeli casualties, and at most quoting statistics on the overall number of Palestinians killed.
In that vein, B’Tselem said that allowing its ad to run would finally create some balanced coverage.
Rejecting objections of political controversy, B’Tselem said that legal precedent is clear that freedom of speech guarantees the right to publicize exactly those views which might be unconventional to promote a robust debate of ideas, including on the current war.
It said that criticism of state policies and tactics in the war cannot be blocked and the public must have access to information about Palestinian civilian casualties where presenting those who have died is merely making the public aware of facts.
B’Tselem said that the IBA already aired ads from right-wing groups calling for continuing the war until total “victory.”
The NGO accused the IBA of attempting to “silence public debate over the incalculable price that Gazan civilians are paying for the current military operation,” and asked the court to intervene.