Amira Hass

Amira Hass (Hebrew: ????? ??‎; born 1956) is a prominent left-wing Israeli journalist and author, mostly known for her columns in the daily newspaper Ha'aretz. She is particularly recognized for her reporting on Palestinian affairs in the West Bank and Gaza, where she has also lived for a number of years.

The daughter of two Holocaust survivors (Bergen-Belsen concentration camp), Hass was born in Jerusalem, and was educated at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she studied the history of Nazism and the European Left's relation to the Holocaust. Early in her career, she traveled widely and worked in several different jobs. Frustrated by the events of the First Intifada, she began her journalistic career in 1989 as a staff editor for Ha'aretz and started to report from the Palestinian Territories in 1991. As of 2003, she is the only Jewish Israeli journalist who has lived full-time among the Palestinians, in Gaza from 1993 and in Ramallah from 1997.

Hass was the recipient of the Press Freedom Hero award from the International Press Institute in 2000, the Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Award in 2002, theUNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 2003, the inaugural award from the Anna Lindh Memorial Fund in 2004 and Hrant Dink Memorial Award in 2009[1].

Her reporting is generally sympathetic to the Palestinian point of view and critical of Israeli government policy towards the Palestinians. During the years of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, however, Hass published several highly critical articles about the chaos and disorder caused by militias associated with the Fatah party of Yasser Arafat and the bloody war between Palestinian factions in Nablus.

Her reportage of events, and her voicing of opinions that run counter to both official Israeli and Palestinian positions has exposed Hass to verbal attacks, and opposition from both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. Recently she labeled Israel an apartheid state with privileges reserved mostly for Jews. She says that

'The Palestinians, as a people, are divided into subgroups, something which is reminiscent also of South Africa under apartheid rule'[2]

In June 2001, Judge Rachel Shalev-Gartel of the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruled that Hass had defamed the Jewish settler community of Beit Hadassah in Hebron, and ordered her to pay 250,000 shekels (about $60,000) in damages. Hass had reported Palestinian eyewitness accounts of Israeli settlers defiling the body of a Palestinian militantkilled by Israeli police; the settlers argued that the event did not take place, and said that Hass reported the story with malicious intent. The presiding judge found in favour of the settlers, and said that the report – disproven by several televised accounts of the incident – damaged the community’s reputation. Ha'aretz indicated that it did not have time to arrange a defense in the case, and announced that it would appeal the decision.[3] However, it never appealed the decision.[citation needed] Hass noted that she had brought forward sourced information from the Palestinian community, and said that it was the responsibility of newspaper editors to cross-reference it with other information from the IDF and the settler community.[4]

On December 1, 2008, Hass, who had traveled to Gaza aboard a protest vessel, was arrested by Israeli police on her return to Israel for being in Gaza without a permit.[5]

After residing in the Gaza Strip for several months, Hass was again arrested by Israeli police upon her return to Israel on May 12, 2009 "for violating a law which forbids residence in an enemy state."[6]


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