Amira Hass

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Amira Hass
Amira Hass foto.jpg
Born (1956-06-28) 28 June 1956 (age 62)
Alma materHebrew University
Years active1989–present
Known forCoverage of daily life in Palestinian territories

Amira Hass (Hebrew: עמירה הס‬; born 28 June 1956) is an Israeli journalist and author, mostly known for her columns in the daily newspaper Haaretz. 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,[2] Hass is the only child of a Sarajevo-born Sephardic Jewish mother, who survived nine months in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and a Romanian-born Ashkenazi Jewish father.[3] 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.

For some years during the 1980s, Hass lived in Amsterdam, being married to a Dutch man. She became fluent in Dutch and was involved with various left-wing, feminist and Jewish dissident groups. However, her marriage broke down and she returned to Israel.[citation needed]

Until 1989, Hass wrote occasionally for low-circulation left-wing magazines, but was not known to the general public. Her journalistic career was launched that year due to the Romanian Revolution. Haaretz looked urgently for a reporter to go to Romania and cover the unfolding events. Amira Hass had a cultural Romanian background and some knowledge of the language, and was willing to take the assignment at very short notice. Her series of in-depth reports from Romania got wide attention and gained her a job as a regular staff editor for Haaretz.[citation needed]

Frustrated by the events of the First Intifada and by what she considered their inadequate coverage in the Israeli media, she 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.[4] On various occasions she stated her opinion, "Just as reporting about England should be from London and about France from Paris, so reporting about Palestine should be from Palestine."[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] In 2006, she compared Israeli policies towards the Palestinian population to those of South Africa during Apartheid, saying, "The Palestinians, as a people, are divided into subgroups, something which is reminiscent also of South Africa under apartheid rule."[5]

In September 2014, Hass went to attend a conference in Birzeit University organised by the leftist German Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and the Center for Development Studies at the university.[6] However, she was asked to leave by two Birzeit lecturers, on account of a rule against the presence of Israelis (which she judged to mean Israeli Jews).[7] She said that she had attended the University many times and had never heard of such a rule.[7] The international conference's organizers were offended. The regional head of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation Katja Hermann stated after the incident that she would not have agreed to hold the conference at Birzeit had she been aware of the policy.[7] The university later issued a statement saying "The administration has nothing against the presence of the journalist Hass."[7]

Political position[edit]

Hass self identifies as a leftist.[7] In 2011 she joined the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza.[8] In a speech in Vancouver, when asked whether there is any future hope for the region, Hass answered "Only if we continue to build a bi-national movement against Israeli apartheid."[9]

In April 2013, Hass wrote an article in Haaretz defending Palestinian stone-throwing, calling it "the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule".[10] She was criticized by left-wing politician Yossi Beilin[11] and Adva Biton,[12][13] whose three-year-old daughter was critically injured during a Palestinian rock attack.[14] The Yesha Council filed a complaint with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and the police, accusing Hass of incitement to violence and pointing out that stone throwing has caused serious injuries and death among Israelis.[15]

Legal issues[edit]

Defamation case[edit]

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 published accounts by Palestinians that claimed Israeli settlers defiled the body of a Palestinian militant killed by Israeli police; the settlers said that the event did not take place and that Hass had falsely reported the story with malicious intent.[16] The presiding judge found in favour of the settlers, saying that television accounts contradicted Hass's account and ruling that Hass's report damaged that community's reputation. Haaretz indicated that it did not have time to arrange a defense in the case and indicated that it would appeal the decision.[16] Hass said 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.[17]


On 1 December 2008, Hass, who had traveled to Gaza aboard a protest vessel, had to flee the strip due to threats to her life after she criticized Hamas.[18] She was arrested by Israeli police on her return to Israel for being in Gaza without a permit.[19]

After residing in the Gaza Strip for several months, Hass was again arrested by Israeli police upon her return to Israel on 12 May 2009 "for violating a law which forbids residence in an enemy state".[20]


Hass was the recipient of the World Press Freedom Hero award from the International Press Institute in 2000.[21]

On 27 June 2001, Hass received the Golden Dove of Peace Prize awarded by the Rome-based organization Archivo Disarmo.[22]

In 2002 she was honoured with a Prince Claus Award from the Dutch culture and development organisation Prince Claus Fund.[23]

She won the Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Award in 2002, the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 2003 and the inaugural award from the Anna Lindh Memorial Fund in 2004.[24]

In September 2009, Hass received the Hrant Dink International Award, with Alper Görmüş.[25]

On 20 October 2009, Hass received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Women's Media Foundation.[1]

In December 2009 Hass was awarded the Reporters Without Borders Prize for Press Freedom "for her independent and outspoken reporting from the Gaza Strip for the Israeli daily Ha'aretz during Operation Cast Lead, the offensive which Israel waged against the territory from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009".[26]


  • Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land under Siege. Owl Books. 2000. ISBN 0-8050-5740-4.
  • (With Rachel Leah Jones) Reporting from Ramallah: An Israeli Journalist in an Occupied Land (Semiotext(e), 2003) ISBN 1-58435-019-9
  • Diary of Bergen-Belsen: 1944–1945. Haymarket Books. 2009. ISBN 978-1-931859-87-5. A new English language translation of her Sephardi Yugoslav mother Hanna Levy-Hass' 1946 memoir, with addition of Hass' foreword and afterwords.


  1. ^ a b "Amira Hass | 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award". International Women's Media Foundation. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  2. ^ Kreisler, Harry (2010). Political awakenings: conversations with history. The New Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-1-59558-340-6.
  3. ^ Chris Kutschera. From inside an Israeli prison The Middle East. 15 January 2008
  4. ^ "Israeli Journalist Amira Hass Awarded World Press Freedom Prize 2003". UNESCO.
  5. ^ "Criticism of Israel Is not 'anti-Semitism'". Arab News. 2006-09-05. Archived from the original on 3 December 2009.
  6. ^ "Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Palestine". 16 September 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.[unreliable source?]
  7. ^ a b c d e Hass, Amira. "When a Haaretz journalist was asked to leave a Palestinian university". Haaretz. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  8. ^ Israel warns foreign journalists: Joining Gaza flotilla is illegal
  9. ^ "Amira Hass, Israeli journalist, tells heart-wrenching stories from life in Palestine at UBC event". Vancouver Observer. September 29, 2011.
  10. ^ Hass, Amira. "The inner syntax of Palestinian stone-throwing". Haaretz. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  11. ^ Beilin, Yossi (4 April 2013). "Violence is never legitimate". Israel HaYom. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  12. ^ Beiton, Adva (4 April 2013). עמירה, תראי את אדל שלי נלחמת על חייה [Amira, see my Adele fighting for her life] (in Hebrew). nrg Maariv. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Mother of Girl Injured by Stone Throwing Responds to Ha'aretz: "Come to the Intensive Care Unit, and See My Adele"". Algemeiner Journal. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  14. ^ Kelner, Yaron (15 March 2013). "Mother of girl hurt in Samaria recounts attack". Ynetnews. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  15. ^ Kalman, Aaron (4 April 2013). "Settlers accuse Haaretz writer of inciting violence". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  16. ^ a b "'Ha'aretz' journalist ordered to pay Hebron residents NIS 250,000". The Jerusalem Post  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 8 June 2001. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  17. ^ Eli Pollak; Yisrael Medad (16 March 2003). "The accomplice". The Jerusalem Post. p. 3.
  18. ^ Nadav Zeevi. "עמירה הס נמלטה מעזה" [Amira Hass fled from Gaza]. nrg Maariv. Archived from the original on 7 December 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
  19. ^ Tomer Zarchin. "Haaretz journalist Amira Hass arrested for illegal stay in Gaza". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 17 November 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  20. ^ "Haaretz reporter Amira Hass arrested upon leaving Gaza". 12 May 2009. Archived from the original on 31 August 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  21. ^ "Amira Hass, Israel: World Press Freedom Hero (Honoured in 2000)". International Press Institute. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  22. ^ "Israeli journalist among those awarded Italian peace prize". Associated Press Newswires. 28 June 2001.
  23. ^ Prince Claus Fund. "Amira Hass". Archived from the original on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  24. ^ "Hrant Dink Ödülü Görmüş ve Hass'a" [Read Hrant Dink Award and Hass] (in Turkish). Milliyet. 16 September 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  25. ^ Today's Zaman, 17 September 2009, Journalists Görmüş and Haas receive International Dink Award
  26. ^ "Press Freedom Prize Awarded to Israeli Reporter and Chechen Magazine". Reporters Without Borders. 3 December 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2014.

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