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Israel’s “Free Press”? Broken pencils, broken bones and broken lives of reporters

The Jewish Chronicle published an article on the 16th of May entitled 'Miliband tribute ahead of Israel trip’. The article says: Foreign secretary David Miliband delivered an unscripted tribute to Israel’s achievements and search for peace at the Israeli embassy’s Independence Day Party this week. Expressing his delight at participating in the celebration, held at a central London hotel with 2,000 invited guests, Mr Miliband praised Israel’s free press….. Israel’s free press?...


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Israel’s “Free Press”? Broken pencils, broken bones and broken lives of reporters

Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank

Open letter to David Miliband by a Palestinian Journalist residing in the UK. Detailed report follows.

May 23, 2008

The Jewish Chronicle published an article on the 16th of May entitled 'Miliband tribute ahead of Israel trip’. The article says:

Foreign secretary David Miliband delivered an unscripted tribute to Israel’s achievements and search for peace at the Israeli embassy’s Independence Day Party this week.

Expressing his delight at participating in the celebration, held at a central London hotel with 2,000 invited guests, Mr Miliband praised Israel’s free press…..

Israel’s free press?

Well, it seems that Mr Miliband has not been reading much; it seems that he was denied access to the media. And since no newspaper in UK will publish any of my articles, I thought of sharing with him what I know online.

Dear Mr Miliband,

More than 250 breaches of freedom of journalism happened in the Occupied Territories by Israeli forces during 2007. And the Palestinian territories under Israel’s occupation ranked last year at number 158 in the annual World Press Freedom out of 169 countries. How does this match with your claim of Israel’s free press?

Israel is an Occupation authority, that’s why it is interested in withholding information and concealing its crimes and violations of Palestinian s’ human rights. Like what was happening in villages like Bil’in, and Umm Salman.

Although press coverage is a peaceful activity, nevertheless the participation of peace activists coming in from all over the world to show solidarity has forced Israel to target journalists and continue its intimidation, all for the purpose of keeping its crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories hidden.

Hasan Awad Yonis Al-rajoub (24) is a journalist; he has been abducted by the Israeli Occupation forces on the dawn of 14th of May 2008 from his home at Alkoum village west of the Palestinian city of Hebron. This makes him the 11th journalist to be abducted by Israeli forces. And this abduction is 2 days away from your speech Mr Miliband. It is still a fresh disappointment.

Al-rajoub is a full-time journalist working for the Arab Information Centre in the town of Dura.

Al-rajoub is the eleventh colleague to be detained in an Israeli prison. As a Palestinian journalist and a Freedom Press Desk officer of EJN, I strongly denounce the continuing Israeli campaign against Palestinian journalists. Palestinian journalists were prevented from undertaking their duties. They have been targeted through killings and arrests, and their work is obstructed by different methods of abuse.

By arresting Al-Rajoub, the number of jailed Palestinian journalists in Palestine by Israeli forces raises to seven detained journalists, to be added to another 4 held in administrative detention. Such acts come within a framework of a plan to silence their voices that carry the suffering of the Palestinian people and their tragedy across to the world.

I would like to remind Mr Miliband of the names of the Palestinian journalists who are still prisoners inside Occupation jails, he might want to do his own research from now on:

Hasan Al-Rajoub working at the Arab Centre for Media in Hebron

Sami Assi from the city of Nablus

Walid Khaled Managing Editor of Palestine in the West Bank city of Salfit

Tarek Abu Zeid correspondent for Al-Aqsa TV in the West Bank

Muhammad Hulaiqa TV photographer at Al Aqsa TV

Jihad Daoud Director of the Bayan Centre in Salfit city

And the MP member of the legislative council, and journalist Nizar Ramadan, from Hebron.

In conjunction with the continued violations by the Occupation against Palestinian press and media personnel, Israel’s campaign has continued to prosecute Palestinians journalists in the West Bank, where four journalists are still languishing in the prisons of the security services. Those colleagues are:

Musab Kataloony detainee from the fifth of last March

While Mustafa Sabri, Mohammed Athbah, and the Nimer Elhindi were all detained since the ninth of this May.

Friday April 18 2008. The Palestinian journalist Fadel Shanaa, working for Reuters, was killed in Gaza by metal darts from a shell fired by an Israeli tank.

Five years ago an Israeli soldier killed the British media student Tom Hurndall in Gaza.
Hurndall, a 22-year-old photography student, was shot during a demonstration in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

The escalation of violations against journalists is an evident attack on freedom of the press and human rights. Imprisoning 11 journalists behind bars in isolated cells is a disgrace.

The Israeli occupation forces continued its violations of media freedoms over the last year, the most serious incident was attempting to kill the cameraman Imad Ghanem before the eyes of viewers during a live broadcast on Al-Jazeera.

Israel has also continued its aggressions upon journalists during coverage of peaceful demonstrations against the construction of the apartheid wall and the recurrent intrusions of Palestinian cities and regions. It has also continued to storm the headquarters of the media establishments especially in the city of Nablus, where its forces had confiscated the equipment and closed of the television stations. All of these actions are in addition to arresting the journalists and bringing them to trial, or imprisoning them as administrative detainees.

The Israeli authorities also continued to limit the ability of journalists to cover events and restrict their mobility, preventing many from travelling, and barred entry of newspapers published in the West Bank to the Gaza Strip for varying periods.

Before leaving you, Mr Miliband, wondering how true the information you have been receiving is, I thought of leaving you with few breaches of law by Israel against journalists. When you have the time, I ask you to go through this list please. Its a record of Israeli attacks on journalists after September 2000. And you might change your mind about what you have said… Israel has nothing to be proud of regarding freedom of the press.

May 24, 2002. Suhaib Jadallah Salem, Reuters: Detained

April 30, 2002. Youssry al-Jamal, Reuters: Arrested

April 24, 2002. Mazen Dana, Reuters, and Hussam Abu Alan, Agence France-Presse: Harassed

April 22, 2002. 17 Palestinian and foreign journalists: Harassed

April 20, 2002. Mafouz Abu Turk, Reuters: Harassed.

April 18, 2002. Maher al-Dessouki, Al-Quds Educational TV. Arrested.

April 9, 2002. Gilles Jaquier, France 2: Attacked

April 9, 2002. Yuzuru Saito, TV Tokyo: Harassed

April 9, 2002. Vincent Benhamou, free-lance: Harassed

April 8, 2002. Nile TV, Abu Dhabi TV: Harassed

April 5, 2002. Several Journalists: Attacked

April 3, 2002.

Maher Rumani, Al-Manara: Imprisoned

April 3, 2002. Ashraf Faraj and Jalal Ehmad, Al-Roa: Imprisoned

April 2, 2002. Several journalists: Attacked

April 2, 2002. Al Quds Educational TV: Censored

April 2, 2002. Atta Oweisat, Gamma: Harassed

April 2, 2002: Magnus Johansson, Reuters: Attacked

April 1, 2002. Ismail Khader, Reuters, and Mark Mina, Middle East Broadcasting Centre: Harassed

April 1, 2002. Majdi Banura, Al-Jazeera: Attacked

April 1, 2002. Dana Lewis, NBC News: Attacked

April 1, 2002. Orla Guerin, BBC: Attacked

April 1, 2002. The Associated Press, Reuters, and Palestine TV: Harassed

March 31, 2002. All Media: Censored

March 31, 2002. Anthony Shadid, Boston Globe: Attacked

March 29, 2002. Carlos Handal, Egyptian Nile TV and Abu Dhabi TV: Attacked

March 29, 2002. Several Journalists: Harassed

March 14, 2002. Several Journalists: Attacked

March 13, 2002. Rafaello Ciriello, Corriere della Sera: Killed

March 13, 2002.
Al-Jazeera: Attacked

March 13, 2001. Tareq Abdel Jaber, Egyptian Television: Attacked

March 12, 2002. Several Journalists: Attacked

February 21, 2002. Voice of Palestine Radio and Television: Attacked

February 14, 2002. Sagui Bashan, Israel Television Channel 2: Attacked

February 13, 2002. All Media: Harassed

February 2, 2002. All Media: Harassed

January 19, 2002. Voice of Palestine Radio and Television: Attacked

January 3, 2002. Hebron Times: Censored

December 13, 2001. Voice of Palestine: Attacked

December 6, 2001. Awad Awad, Agence France-Presse: Censored

October 24, 2001. Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse: Harassed, Censored

October 12, 2001. All Media: Harassed

October 12, 2001. Alaa Saftawi, Al-Istiqlal: Imprisoned

October 9, 2001. All Media: Harassed

September 20, 2001. Al-Roa TV: Censored

September 14, 2001. Several Journalists: Detained

September 11, 2001. Several Journalists: Threatened, Harassed

August 13, 2001. Tarek Abdel Jaber and Abdel Nasser Abdoun, Egyptian Television: Attacked

July 31, 2001. Muhammad al-Bishawi, Najah Press Office, IslamOnline.net: Killed

July 29, 2001. Amar Awad and Mahfouz Abu Turk, Reuters; Atta Owiesat and Mona Al-Kawatmi, free-lance; Rashid Safadi, Al-Jazeera: Attacked

July 29, 2001. Sakher Abu al-Aoun, Agence France-Presse: Attacked

July 9, 2001. Mazen Dana and Nael Shiyoukhi, Reuters; Hussam Abu Alan, Agence France-Presse; Imad al-Said, Associated Press Television News: Attacked

June 26, 2001. Hazem Bader, Associated Press Television News: Attacked

May 29, 2001. Joshua Hammer and Gary Knight, Newsweek: Harassed

May 15, 2001. Bertrand Aguirre, TF1: Attacked

April 20, 2001. Layla Odeh, Abu Dhabi TV: Attacked

March 26, 2001. Amer Jabari, ABC News; Nael Shiyoukhi, Reuters; Hussam Abu Alan, Agence France-Presse: Attacked

March 21, 2001. Al-Jazeera: Censored

March 10, 2001. Mazen Dana and Nael Shiyoukhi, Reuters; Hussam Abu Alan, Agence France-Presse: Attacked

March 8, 2001. Christine Hauser, Ahmed Bahadou, and Suhaib Salem, Reuters: Attacked

February 16, 2001. Al-Quds, Hayat al-Jadida, Al-Ayyam: Censored

February 15, 2001. Nablus TV: Attacked

February 11, 2001. Luay Abu Haikal, Reuters: Attacked; Hussam Abu Alan, Agence France-Presse: Attacked, Threatened

February 9, 2001. Laurent van der Stock, Newsweek: Attacked

February 8, 2001. Al-Hayat al-Jadida: Attacked

January 16, 2001. Majdi al-Arbid, free-lance: Legal Action

November 15, 2000. Al-Roa’ TV: Harassed, Censored

November 12, 2000. Mazen Dana, Reuters: Attacked, Harassed

November 12, 2000. Abdel Rahim Qusini and Nasser Ishtayyeh, Reuters: Attacked

November 11, 2000. Yola Monakhov, The Associated Press: Attacked

October 31, 2000. Ben Wedeman, CNN: Attacked

October 31, 2000. Suleiman al-Shafei, Israeli Channel 2 TV: Harassed

October 23, 2000. Nasser Shiyoukhi, Associated Press: Harassed

October 21, 2000. Jacques-Marie Bourget, Paris-Match: Attacked

October 21, 2000. Bruno Stevens, Libération, Stern: Attacked

October 18, 2000. Patrick Baz, Agence France-Presse: Attacked

October 17, 2000. Mahfouz Abu Turk, Reuters: Attacked

October 12, 2000. Voice of Palestine: Attacked

October 12, 2000. Several Journalists: Attacked

October 11, 2000. Atta Oweisat, Zoom 77: Legal Action

October 9, 2000. Luc Delahaye, Magnum, Newsweek: Attacked

October 7, 2000. Walid Suleiman Amayreh, Akhbar al-Khalil: Imprisoned

October 4, 2000. Atta Owiesat, Zoom 77: Attacked

October 2, 2000. Mazen Dana, Reuters: Attacked

October 2, 2000. Louay Abu Haykel, Reuters: Attacked

October 1, 2000. Amer Jabari, ABC News: Attacked

September 29, 2000. Khaled Abu Aker, France 2, The New York Times: Attacked

September 29, 2000. Hazem Bader, The Associated Press: Attacked

Sepember 29, 2000. Mahfouz Abu Turk, Reuters: Attacked

September 29, 2000. Khaled Zeghari, Reuters: Attacked


Cases 2002

April 30, 2002. Youssry al-Jamal, Reuters: Arrested

On April 30, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops in the West Bank town of Hebron detained Youssry al-Jamal, a soundman for the Reuters news agency. Al-Jamal and Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana were filming near the Al-Ahli Hospital when soldiers demanded to see their identification cards and then informed them that they were under arrest.

April 22, 2002. 17 foreign and Palestinian journalists: Harassed

On April 22, IDF soldiers confiscated the press cards of 17 foreign and Palestinian journalists who had attempted to approach Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, site of an ongoing standoff between the Israeli army and Palestinians holed up inside.

Troops stopped them when the journalists, from news organizations including The Associated Press, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, the BBC, and AFP, tried to approach the church. An officer told the group that it was a closed military area and ordered the journalists’ press cards confiscated. Most of the cards were returned later that day following protests from news organizations. Other journalists told CPJ they expected to receive their cards soon.

April 20, 2002. Mafouz Abu Turk, Reuters: Harassed.

On April 20, Israeli troops detained veteran Reuters photographer Mahfouz Abu Turk at an army checkpoint while he and two colleagues were leaving the Jenin refugee camp. After examining the journalists’ press cards, the soldiers blindfolded Abu Turk and took him away in an armored personnel carrier.

When one of the journalists asked why Abu Turk had been detained, a soldier told them that the photographer was on a "list" and had to be "questioned." Abu Turk later told CPJ that he was handcuffed and put on a bus, where he was held for 22 hours without food or water before being released. He was never questioned.

April 18, 2002. Maher al-Dessouki, Al-Quds Educational TV. Arrested.

On or about April 18, Israeli forces arrested Maher al-Dessouki, the host of a talk show on the Ramallah-based Al-Quds Educational TV. Al-Dessouki was taken from his brother-in-law’s home along with another journalist, Kamel Jbeil. Both are being held at the Ofer detention facility near Ramallah and have not been charged with any offense, according to CPJ sources. Dessouki hosts the popular weekly talk show "Space for Opinion."

April 9, 2002. Gilles Jaquier, France 2: Attacked

Jaquier, a cameraman with television channel France 2, was wounded by a single gunshot near his shoulder while reporting outside the West Bank city of Nablus, an eyewitness told CPJ. Jaquier, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was transported to a Jerusalem hospital after having the bullet removed at a hospital in Nablus. It is unclear who fired the shot, but the witness said the area was quiet at the time of the shooting.

April 9, 2002. Yuzuru Saito, TV Tokyo: Harassed

Saito, a reporter with TV Tokyo, was threatened in Bethlehem by Israeli forces, who confiscated a tape from his cameraman.

April 9, 2002. Vincent Benhamou, free-lance: Harassed

Benhamou, a French cameraman, had a tape confiscated by IDF troops. He told the AP that after he turned to walk away from the soldiers, he heard two shots fired in the air.

April 8, 2002. Nile TV, Abu Dhabi TV: Harassed

Several Israeli soldiers raided a building in Ramallah housing Egyptian television channel Nile TV and United Arab Emirates channel Abu Dhabi TV. A witness reported that troops forced the journalists in the office to lie on the ground and knocked Nile TV cameraman Raed al-Helw to the ground. Soldiers dismantled journalists’ cell phones and threw the parts around the room. They also fired live rounds at a locked office door to gain access to the room, according to the same witness. After 45 minutes, the soldiers left and searched the rest of the building, which houses several other foreign television stations.

April 5, 2002. Several Journalists: Attacked

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fired stun grenades and rubber bullets at reporters outside the Ramallah compound of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Israeli troops fired stun grenades at a group of at least two dozen reporters attempting to cover the pending arrival of U.S. Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni, who visited the compound on April 5 to meet with Arafat, CPJ has confirmed. Eyewitnesses told CPJ that the journalists had driven to the compound in several armored press cars. Shortly after they arrived and exited the vehicles, IDF troops arrived. The Israeli soldiers then hurled about six stun grenades in their direction. According to CNN, stun grenades "produce a blinding flash and a very loud explosion, designed to disorient those targeted." One grenade exploded under CNN reporter Michael Holmes’ foot. The IDF troops ordered the journalists to leave and then fired rubber bullets at their armored vehicles, CNN reported. The journalists regrouped and tried to return to the area but were turned back by Israeli troops. Some journalists had their press accreditation confiscated, CPJ sources said.

April 3, 2002. Maher Rumani, Al-Manara: Imprisoned

Rumani, a news presenter for the Ramallah-based Al-Manara radio station, was detained by Israeli forces on or about April 3 and has not been heard from since, according to station staff.

April 3, 2002. Ashraf Faraj and Jalal Ehmad, Al-Roa: Imprisoned

According to CPJ sources, Faraj and Ehmad, respectively an editor and a cameraman with the private, Bethlehem-based television station Al-Roa, have been in Israeli custody since April 3. Several other journalists detained with them in downtown Bethlehem have been released.

The group had set up a makeshift media center in Manger Square to cover events unfolding in the town. Troops confiscated cameras, tapes, and other equipment. Faraj and Ehmad are being held at a facility near Beitunia in the West Bank, according to CPJ sources.

April 2, 2002. Several journalists: Attacked

Israeli troops in the West Bank town of Bethlehem opened fire on a car carrying journalists Innaro, Mauritzi, and Pellegrini, of Italy’s television and radio station RAI; Capuozzo and Nalbandian, of the Italian television station TG5; and Gulli, of the Italian daily Il Giornale.

The journalists had gone to Bethlehem to cover the Israeli army’s military offensive in the West Bank and were traveling in a white

April 2. Al-Quds Educational TV’s offices near Ramallah were occupied by Israeli troops early in the evening. Two staffers were detained briefly, and the station was forced off the air. The troops remain in the building and several tanks are in the building’s parking lot.

Al-Quds Educational TV is a project affiliated with Al-Quds University. Among the station’s recent programming has been health information, public service announcements, and programming designed to help children deal with traumatic experiences.

April 2, 2002. Gamma agency photographer Atta Oweisat was detained by Israeli troops in Ramallah and held for nearly six hours. He and other journalists were ordered out of their car and forced to take off their flak jackets and put their personal possessions on the ground. The troops detained Oweisat when they found that his press card had expired. He was blindfolded and handcuffed during his detention.

April 2, 2002. In Bethlehem, an Israeli soldier fired one round toward the car of Reuters photographer Magnus Johansson, which was clearly identified as a press vehicle. Johansson heard soldiers shouting at him. When he got out of the car, he was ordered back in. The shot was fired as he attempted to drive away.

April 1, 2002. Ismail Khader, Reuters, and Mark Mina, Middle East Broadcasting Centre: Harassed

Khader, a cameramen for Reuters; and Mina, a cameraman for the Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC), were forced to strip down to their underwear by Israeli troops on the fourth day of the Israeli army’s incursion into Ramallah, which began on March 29.

Khader and Mina told CPJ that they were in an armored car owned by Reuters, which was clearly identified as a press vehicle. Israeli
troops signaled the journalists to stop as they neared Al Manara Square, which had been secured by Israeli forces at the time.

Both men said that there was no exchange of fire in the area that morning. The soldiers ordered the men out of the car and motioned for Khader to approach. When he was about 20 meters away, the soldiers ordered Khader to place his camera and cell phone on the ground and to remove his flak jacket, shirt, and pants. Mina was ordered to do the same. When he refused to remove his pants, Khader said a soldier threatened to shoot him.

The journalists were forced to kneel in their underwear for about 25 minutes before being allowed to leave.

April 1, 2002. Majdi Banura, Al-Jazeera: Attacked

Banura, a cameraman with the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera, was injured when Israeli troops fired live rounds at the Star Hotel in Bethlehem, where most journalists covering the Israel army’s incursion
into the West Bank were staying.

Two of Banura’s colleagues told CPJ that he and several journalists were standing in fifth floor of the hotel when Israeli troops began firing into the hotel. Both journalists said that there was heavy Israeli-Palestinian cross fire outside at the time. As bullets punctured the window, Banura was struck in the head by broken glass but was not seriously injured.

April 1, 2002. NBC correspondent Dana Lewis and his two-person camera crew came under IDF fire in Ramallah at dusk while driving in an armored car that was clearly identified as a press vehicle. After an initial burst of gunfire hit the car, a lone IDF soldier opened fire with a second burst from a range of about 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 meters).

The journalists then stopped the car, turned on an interior light to make themselves visible, and placed their hands on the windshield. After 15 to 20 seconds, the soldier fired a third burst, hitting the windshield. The NBC crew escaped by driving away in reverse.

April 1, 2002. BBC reporter Orla Guerin and her television crew came under Israeli fire while covering peaceful protesters walking through the streets of Bethlehem. Video footage of the incident shows the camera panning on the demonstrators and then focusing on a tank, which then fires machine gun rounds at the camera. The crew took cover behind a car that was clearly marked press. No one was injured in the attack.

April 1, 2002. In Bethlehem, Palestinian militants threatened journalists working for The Associated Press, Reuters, and Palestine TV and forced them to hand over footage, shot the night before, of the body of an alleged Palestinian collaborator who had been shot in a parking lot.

March 31, 2002. Israeli authorities announced they would begin enforcing existing rules under which journalists must submit reports about defense matters to a military censor. They also said any Palestinians found working in Israel for foreign news organizations without proper documentation would risk arrest. Repeated violations could result in heavy fines and the closure of foreign media offices, authorities said. In Jerusalem, Israeli authorities threatened to fine any news organization US$15,000 if it was found harboring Palestinians "without the proper permits."

March 31, 2002. Boston Globe reporter Anthony Shadid was wounded by a single gunshot in Ramallah. Shadid told CPJ that he and his colleague, Boston Globe stringer Said Ghazali, were walking away from Palestinian National Authority chairman Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah when a bullet entered Shadid’s left shoulder. The area was completely quiet at the time, and both journalists were wearing flak jackets marked "TV" in red tape. Shadid told CPJ that he did not see who shot him but said that Israeli tanks and soldiers were surrounding the area. The journalist was taken to a Palestinian hospital after receiving first aid from a group of Israeli soldiers.

March 29, 2002. Palestinian cameraman Carlos Handal, who works for Egyptian Nile TV and Abu Dhabi TV, was shot in the mouth after his car came under attack in Ramallah, according to international press reports. Handal is currently hospitalized in stable condition. It is unclear who fired the shot that hit him.

March 29, 2002. The Tel Aviv­based Foreign Press Association reported that Israeli forces commandeered a Ramallah building used by local and foreign journalists. Israeli troops forced all media representatives out of the building.

•March 14, 2002. A group of journalists traveling in an Associated Press (AP) armored car came under fire from Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank city of Ramallah, according to international wire service reports.

According to the AP, the gunmen fired on the car for about 30 seconds, puncturing the vehicle’s tires. No one was injured in the attack. The gunmen later told the reporters that they had opened fire on the vehicle after hearing a report that Israeli soldiers were driving around in a vehicle with TV markings—a rumor Israeli officials vehemently denied.

• March 13, 2002. The central Ramallah offices of the Qatar-based satellite network, Al-Jazeera, came under Israeli fire.

Al-Jazeera correspondents told CPJ that the station’s office was hit by Israeli machine gun fire shortly after they finished an interview with Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo. The gunfire came from a tank stationed about 100 meters (111 yards) beyond the office and struck a window where a second staff cameraman was filming Israeli-Palestinian clashes some 300 meters (333 yards) away.

One round entered the fifth floor office and hit a wall, narrowly missing the cameraman’s head. Others in the office, including Abed Rabbo, ducked for cover. Some rounds hit the other floors in the building outside, Al-Jazeera sources said.

• March 13, 2002. Raffaele Ciriello, an Italian free-lance photographer who was on assignment for the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, was killed by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank city of Ramallah, according to press reports and eyewitness testimony.

Ciriello was the first foreign journalist killed while covering the current Palestinian uprising, which began in September 2000.

The photographer died after being hit by a burst of machine gun fire from the direction of an Israeli tank in Ramallah during Israel’s military offensive in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Amedeo Ricucci of the Italian television station Rai Uno told CPJ that he and his cameraman were accompanying Ciriello at the time of the incident. They were trailing a group of Palestinian gunmen who were some 200 yards in front of the journalists. Ricucci said the area was quiet and was located roughly 500 yards to a half-mile from a nearby refugee camp where fighting between Israelis and Palestinians was taking place.

The three journalists were standing inside a building off an alleyway, Ricucci said. Shortly afterward, a tank emerged at one end of the street some 150 to 200 yards away, he said. Ciriello left the building and pointed his camera at the tank. He then came under fire without warning. Ciriello was shot six times and died of his wounds soon afterward.

There was at least one Palestinian gunman in Ciriello’s vicinity at the time of the shooting, according to press reports.

The Italian government has demanded a full investigation into the attack, according to the AP.

An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman was unable to provide details about the circumstances of the shooting and claimed to have no information about the presence of journalists in Ramallah, which the IDF said was a closed military area.

The IDF added that journalists who entered the area were "endangering" themselves and claimed that it was not clear whether Ciriello’s death was caused by Israeli or Palestinian gunfire.

Palestinian doctors said Israeli forces fired the rounds, according to press reports. Ricucci told CPJ that Ciriello’s camera was in the hands of Italian authorities. The images it contained could help determine the source of the firing and the circumstances of the incident.

• March 13, 2002. Reporter Tareq Abdel Jaber of Egyptian TV told CPJ that he and his cameraman were driving on a main street in Ramallah when their car, which was clearly identified as a press vehicle, came under fire.

There was no fighting taking place in the area at the time, Abdel Jaber said.

Bullets penetrated the car and struck his flak jacket, but he was not seriously hurt. Although Abdel Jaber did not visually identify the shooter, he said that Israeli tanks and military personnel surrounded the entire area.

• March 12, 2002. Israeli forces opened fire on a hotel housing numerous journalists near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

In the early morning hours of March 12, Israeli forces directed heavy machine gun fire at the City Inn Hotel, from which some 30 to 40 reporters and cameramen, most of them representing Western media outlets, were filming an Israeli army operation against the nearby Al-Amari refugee camp.

Israeli forces fired on the hotel, which is located some 300 hundred yards from the Al-Amari camp, for about 15 minutes, according to press reports and journalists at the scene who were interviewed by CPJ.

Israeli forces gave no prior warning of the attack. Journalists said the gunfire smashed windows and damaged the interior and exterior of the building.

There were no injuries. However, gunfire destroyed an ABC camera after the fleeing crew left it on its tripod. One round struck the camera directly in its lens.

An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman told CPJ that the army was responding to Palestinian gunfire emanating from the upper floors of the hotel and from other nearby buildings.

The spokesman added that the army was unaware that journalists were in the hotel, and that Israeli forces ceased fire after news agencies alerted the IDF of the situation.

Several journalists who spoke with CPJ vehemently denied that a gunman was in the hotel, which was located away from cross fire and provided a good vantage point on the refugee camp.

"If there is a gunman, I would not stay in the building for one minute," ABC television news producer Nasser Atta told The Associated Press.

Journalists argued that the army should have been aware that media representatives were inside the hotel because some 20 clearly identified press vehicles were parked out front. Several Israeli tanks drove by the hotel before the attack, they said.

• February 21, 2002. Israel Defense Forces entered a two-story building housing offices and studios used by the Palestinian National Authority’s (PNA) broadcast outlets, Voice of Palestine radio (VOP) and Palestine Television. Khaled Al-Siam, the station’s director, told Agence France-Presse that the IDF soldiers confiscated equipment and later detonated explosives, setting the building on fire and causing it to collapse.

• February 14, 2002. One or more IDF soldiers opened fire on Sagui Bashan, a reporter with Israel’s Channel 2 television station, near the Gaza Strip while the journalist was driving his car toward the Karni border crossing. Bashan was attempting to retrieve film footage from his cameraman, who was covering the aftermath of a bomb attack against an Israeli tank in which three soldiers were killed.

Moments before the incident, a soldier at an IDF roadblock located in Israel proper, about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from the Karni crossing, tried to prevent Bashan from entering the area, even though Bashan identified himself as a journalist and displayed the press markings on his car. Bashan asked the soldier to produce an official military order to justify barring him access, which the soldier was unable to do. Bashan then told the soldier that he intended to approach the Karni crossing. He re-entered his car, put the vehicle in reverse, and headed for the crossing via a side road.

Moments later, several rounds of live gunfire struck his car. Bashan was grazed in the arm and leg by ricochet bullets and later treated at a hospital. An IDF spokesman contacted by CPJ said the incident was "under investigation." He did not explain why the soldier tried to keep Bashan from performing his professional duties. Nor did he explain why deadly force was used against a journalist who clearly posed no threat to the IDF.

• February 13, 2002. According to the Foreign Press Association of Israel (FPA), the IDF denied journalists access to the Gaza Strip during military operations. In a statement, the FPA said, "We understand possible concerns for the safety of journalists in a conflict zone. But the IDF’s sweeping closure went well beyond what is justifiable under these circumstances." The statement added that journalists were even denied access to areas where no conflict was taking place. A single press pool was created for print journalists only, "which creates at least the appearance of an effort to avoid visuals," the FPA said.

• February 2, 2002. According to the FPA, Palestinian police harassed and confiscated the tapes of camera crews who were filming rioting outside a courtroom in the West Bank city of Jenin. (A Palestinian mob had stormed the courtroom and killed three defendants accused in a murder case.)

• January 19, 2002. In the early morning hours, Israeli forces entered a five-story building that houses administrative offices and broadcasting facilities for the Palestinian National Authority’s Voice of Palestine radio station, as well as studios for the official Palestine Television. The forces confiscated equipment and later detonated explosives, setting the building on fire and causing half of it to collapse.

VOP resumed broadcasting using the facilities of a private West Bank Palestinian radio station. The Gaza-based Palestine Television also continued to broadcast through its main facility.

The Israel Defense Forces described the action as a response to an attack by a Palestinian gunman on a banquet hall in the Israeli city of Hadera two days before, in which six Israelis were killed and dozens wounded.

• January 3, 2002. Palestinian security authorities in the West Bank city of Hebron descended on the offices of the weekly newspaper Hebron Times and ordered its immediate closure. No official reason was given. Staff from the newspaper alleged that the PNA was responding to U.S. "pressure" to close the paper, which frequently criticized Israel and the United States’ Middle East policies.

Cases 2001

• December 13, 2001. Israeli missiles hit the Voice of Palestine radio station broadcasting headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, according to international news reports. The building’s main transmitter was destroyed, knocking the station off the air.

Later, bulldozers flattened the building while Israeli soldiers detonated explosives that toppled a 90-foot radio and television tower and destroyed the station’s transmitter, which is also used by Palestine TV.

Voice of Palestine went back on the air using another frequency. Palestine TV reportedly broadcast with poor reception.

The attack came amid Israeli military strikes against Palestinian National Authority targets in what Israel described as reprisals for recent deadly suicide bombings and shootings carried out by radical Palestinian groups. Israel holds Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat responsible for the violence.

• December 6, 2001. Israeli authorities barred Awad Awad, a photographer for Agence France-Presse (AFP), from entering Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s office. Awad, who had covered news events at the office on several previous occasions, was there to photograph a meeting between Sharon and the Norwegian foreign minister.

Awad was denied entry despite having the necessary Israeli Government Press Office press card, which grants journalists access to official events.

Israeli authorities later told AFP, without further explanation, that Awad would not be allowed in the prime minister’s office for 15 days.

• October 24, 2001. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) harassed journalists and barred them from covering clashes in the Palestinian village of Beit Rima on October 24. Journalists from the Associated Press, Reuters, and AFP tried to enter the town by car but were turned back by the soldiers. They then attempted to enter the village through a back road, but Israeli soldiers again refused them entry. One journalist was told it was a "closed military area." The group returned to the village’s main checkpoint. They managed to drive through the military post but were pulled over soon after by a group of soldiers who told them to leave the village immediately. When the group protested, a soldier hit one journalist’s camera lens, and Israeli soldiers shoved two other journalists. The convoy was then escorted out of the village by Israeli military cars.

• October 12, 2001. Palestinian security forces barred journalists from entering the Meghazi refugee camp in Gaza, where the militant Islamic Jihad organization was staging a memorial service for a group member who had been murdered. Media outlets received the order via fax from Police Chief Ghazi Jabali.

• October 12, 2001. Palestinian security forces arrested Alaa Saftawi, publisher of the militant Islamic Jihad weekly Al-Istiqlal, over an article criticizing the Palestinian National Authority’s crackdown on demonstrators in Gaza.

He was released without charge on November 16.

• October 9, 2001. Palestinian authorities barred foreign journalists from entering the Gaza Strip and prevented other reporters from reaching the scene of bloody clashes between Palestinian protesters and Palestinian police that resulted in the deaths of two protesters and the injuries of dozens more a day earlier. The ban remained in effect for one and a half days.

The demonstrators were protesting U.S. military strikes against Afghanistan. Some of the protesters expressed support for Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

On October 8, Palestinian authorities banned some foreign reporters from entering Gaza and prevented others from reaching the scene of clashes. At least two journalists who did manage to cover the clashes were attacked by Palestinian police and later detained for several hours.
For security reasons, the journalists involved in this incident asked that their names and affiliations not be revealed to the public.

• September 20, 2001. At about 11:00 a.m., Palestinian police and security agents descended on the offices of the private television station Al-Roa TV and ordered the station to cease broadcasting immediately.

No reason was given for the suspension, and the officers failed to provide station staff with any official documentation to justify the raid. Station director Hamdi Faraj eventually received a document from the local police stating that the station had been closed by order of Hadj Ismail Jaber, general director of the Palestinian military and police forces in the West Bank.

Staff at Al-Roa told CPJ that they believe the closure came in reprisal for a news bulletin aired earlier in the day. The bulletin announced that Al-Roa had received a statement from the Al-Aqsa Brigades, a group affiliated with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah organization, claiming responsibility for an attack on two Jewish settlers in the West Bank, which resulted in the death of one settler.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was evidently embarrassed by Al-Roa’s bulletin, which suggested that a group technically under Arafat’s control might have violated the recently announced Palestinian cease-fire.

By Al Roa’s own count, it was the 10th time PNA authorities had closed the station since it was founded in the early 1990s.

On September 22, authorities allowed the station to resume broadcasting.

• September 14, 2001. Palestinian police briefly detained several photographers and cameramen working with international news agencies in the Gaza Strip and confiscated their equipment. The journalists had been covering a rally to commemorate a Palestinian suicide bomber that the militant Islamic group Hamas staged in the Nusseirat refugee camp. During the rally, one protestor reportedly held up a portrait of Osama bin Laden, the exiled Saudi financier suspected by the United States of orchestrating the recent attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Palestinian police later stated that they "confiscated media material which documented illegal acts" at an illegal rally. Although the PNA returned the journalists’ camera equipment that weekend, some of their video footage had been erased. The AP reported yesterday that its video was missing 45 seconds of footage. Another photographer told CPJ that images stored on his digital camera had been erased.

• September 11, 2001. According to international press reports, Palestinian police and armed gunmen prevented several news photographers and cameramen from documenting events in the West Bank city of Nablus, where groups of Palestinians celebrated the terrorist attacks on the United States by honking horns and firing live ammunition rounds into the air.

According to The Associated Press, Palestinian security authorities summoned a free-lance cameraman working for the AP that same day and warned him not to air his footage of the events. Members of the Tanzim militia, affiliated with the Fatah organization, also issued warnings that the AP cameraman interpreted as threatening.

Later, the AP quoted Palestinian National Authority (PNA) cabinet secretary Ahmed Abdel Rahman as saying that the PNA "[could] not guarantee the life" of the AP cameraman if the film were broadcast. In the end, the footage was not aired, apparently out of concern for the journalist’s safety.

• August 13, 2001. Tarek Abdel Jaber and Abdel Nasser Abdoun, a reporter and cameraman, respectively, for the state-run Egyptian Television network, were assaulted by an unidentified Israeli soldier at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah while they were filming in the area.

Abdoun told CPJ that the soldier approached him and Abdel Jaber when they left their car to gather film footage. Abdoun said the soldier ordered him in English to move back, and that he obeyed. The soldier then tried to kick him in the shin. He then approached Abdel Jaber and slapped him across the face. The soldier proceeded to kick Abdoun in the groin, and he fell to the ground.

According to Abdoun and Abdel Jaber, the other soldiers at the checkpoint did nothing to stop the attack. Abdoun captured the incident on video. Abdoun was taken to Makased hospital in Jerusalem, where he was treated and released after three hours.

In an August 12 statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman’s office called the incident "wrong and completely unacceptable" but accused the journalists of refusing to leave the scene and of "provoking the soldiers guarding the checkpoint."

The IDF said that the soldier involved in the attack was "tried by the battalion commander and received a [suspended] 21-day prison sentence…and was suspended from commanding positions."

• July 31, 2001. Muhammad al-Bishawi, a reporter for the Nablus-based Palestinian news service Najah Press Office and for IslamOnline.net, an Internet news service based in Qatar, was killed in an Israeli missile attack that had targeted Hamas leader Jamal Mansour. Israel had accused Mansour of masterminding several suicide bombings.

Various sources, including al-Bishawi’s Cairo-based editor, reported that at the time of the attack, al-Bishawi was in the Palestinian Center for Studies and Media, a Hamas information office, to interview Mansour for an article he was writing for IslamOnline.net.

Al-Bishawi covered many topics for IslamOnline.net, ranging from Palestinian weddings to suicide bombers.

• July 29, 2001. Israeli soldiers attacked a number of journalists in the compound of the
Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, where the journalists were covering clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters.

Some 15 to 20 journalists were covering events in the Al-Aqsa compound. Among them were Awad Awad and Majfouz Abu Turk of Reuters, Atta Oweisat of Zoom 77, free-lancer Mona al-Kawatmi, and Rashid Safadi of Al Jazeera. The journalists said they were standing together in a group and that because of their position and equipment, they could not have been mistaken for Palestinian demonstrators.

Abu Turk told CPJ that Israeli soldiers first tried to deny journalists entry to the compound by blocking all seven doors. He said that most of the journalists barred from entering the compound eventually gained access, including himself. Once the clashes began, the journalists said, Israeli forces started firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd. (The army denied using rubber bullets.) The journalists said that the attacks against journalists started during the "second wave" of Israeli attacks against demonstrators.

Individual journalists were abused, threatened, and forcefully removed from the compound. Awad sustained a broken tooth when he was kicked in the face by an Israeli soldier. Awad said that at about 3:15 p.m., as he was photographing the clashes, a soldier charged him and kicked him in the mouth. Bleeding, Awad ran away. A few moments later he was again attacked by the same soldier, who kicked him several more times.

• July 29, 2001. Sakher Abu al-Aoun, a correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP) in the Gaza Strip, was beaten by five assailants armed with pipes as he made his way to AFP’s offices. He suffered a concussion.

In a letter to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, AFP said the incident was "particularly alarming because the assailants…clearly said they knew Sakher was a journalist."
AFP quoted Palestinian Authority secretary general Ahmed Abdulrahman as saying that the attacks against Abu al-Aoun were probably connected with a report the journalist filed about bloody clashes involving two feuding families in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in Gaza.

• July 9, 2001. Jewish settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron attacked Mazen Dana and Nael Shiyoukhi, cameramen for Reuters; Hussam Abu Alan, a photographer for Agence France Presse; and Imad al-Said, a cameraman for Associated Press Television News.
The journalists were covering settlers attacking a Palestinian wedding party in the Al-Raf section of the city, across from the large Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba.

After they arrived at the scene, the photographers began filming the violence from 20 to 30 meters (22 to 33 yards) away, until Israeli border police ordered them to leave the area. They moved to a different location and resumed filming the settlers, who were throwing stones at cars and homes. Some of the settlers turned on the journalists and threw stones at them.

One settler pointed his machine gun at the cameras of Shyioukhi and al-Said. Abu Alan was beaten by another settler. None of the journalists were seriously injured, although Abu Alan sustained slight injuries to his face and neck.

According to the journalists, the soldiers and police who were present did nothing to stop the attacks.

• June 26, 2001. Hazem Bader, a free-lance cameraman working with The Associated Press Television News, came under heavy machine gun fire while riding in his car in the West Bank city of Hebron.

At around dusk, Bader was driving home from an assignment when his car was attacked in the Palestinian-controlled Bab al-Zawiyah section of the city. Bader said the gunfire came from an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) outpost near the Jewish settlement of Tel Rumeida, about 500 meters (555 yards) away.

The first round of shots hit a wall just a few meters from his car, forcing him to exit the vehicle and take cover. Ten seconds later, Bader said, another round struck a nearby streetlight. A few minutes later, five or six rounds were fired directly at his car, three of which struck the vehicle.

Bader told CPJ that the street where the attack occurred was empty and peaceful. "It was an open and clear area," Bader said. "No one was moving in the area." He added that his car was plastered with Arabic, Hebrew, and English stickers that clearly identified it as a press vehicle.

IDF spokesman Olivier Rafowicz told CPJ that he had no information about the incident but added that the IDF had received a letter of inquiry from the AP and was "looking into it." Israeli authorities had taken no action on the case by year’s end.

• May 29, 2001. Joshua Hammer, the Jerusalem bureau chief for Newsweek magazine, and Gary Knight, a photographer on assignment with the publication, were detained by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

The two were interviewing Palestinian militants in the town of Rafah who claimed to be members of the Fatah Hawks, an organization that Palestinian National Authority officials claim no longer exists.

During the interview, the militants informed the two journalists that they were being detained "to protest unfair American and British press coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," according to Newsweek. The journalists’ driver and translator were also detained.

In a statement, the militants said: "This operation comes as a message to the U.S. and British governments to reconsider their calculations and that all their citizens in Palestine and the Arab world will be subject to abduction and killing in case the full, biased and unjustified support continues to the government [of Israel]."

The journalists were allowed to leave unharmed after four and a half hours. They said they did not feel threatened, Newsweek reported. Meanwhile, Palestinian officials denied any involvement in the incident.

• May 15, 2001. Bertrand Aguirre, a reporter for the French television channel TF1, was wounded in the chest by a live round while covering clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Aguirre had just finished a stand-up report when an Israeli border policeman opened fire from about 150 to 200 meters (166 to 222 yards) away. A single round struck the journalist in the chest. Aguirre’s bulletproof vest most likely saved his life.

Aguirre was standing about 50 to 100 meters (55 to 111 yards) behind stone-throwing Palestinian demonstrators who were between him and the border policeman. The incident occurred during a lull in the clashes, according to eyewitnesses.

While it is uncertain whether the soldier was aiming at Aguirre, video footage shows the soldier opening fire in the direction of unarmed demonstrators and journalists. The footage shows that he was not in a life-threatening situation and had violated the IDF’s rules of engagement.

"It’s clear that the soldier opened fire with live ammunition on an unarmed crowd and that he was shooting to kill. Was he aiming at me or not? I can’t tell that," Aguirre told CPJ. The journalist contended that he was easily recognizable as a reporter since he was holding a microphone and wearing a conspicuous white flak jacket as he stood alongside his camera crew.

On June 21, Danny Seaman, director of the Government Press Office’s Foreign Press Department, told CPJ that an internal police investigation into Aguirre’s shooting was under way. Investigators had received video footage of the incident, Seaman said, along with the bullet that wounded the journalist.

The investigation, Seaman said, was taking place under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice. He reported that if any evidence of wrongdoing was found, the Justice Ministry might initiate a criminal prosecution. Seaman said the results of the investigation were expected to be released in late June.

In September, the Justice Ministry dismissed the case for what it said was lack of evidence. A report of the investigation dated November 20 contained a lengthy account of the Justice Ministry’s investigation of the Aguirre case. After interviewing the Israeli soldier who fired the shot, other soldiers, and journalists on the scene, the investigator concluded that "it is impossible to make the connection with certainty between the shot fired by the suspect and the wounding of the journalist because the whole picture is not present…. In my opinion, it is appropriate to close the case due to lack of evidence."

• April 20, 2001. Layla Odeh, a correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based Abu Dhabi TV, was shot by Israeli troops at about 1 p.m. while she and two colleagues were interviewing residents in the town of Rafah whose homes had been destroyed by Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the journalist told CPJ.

Without warning, two shots were fired in the journalists’ direction from a nearby IDF position. When the crew attempted to flee the scene, a third shot was fired, striking Odeh in the back of her thigh. She was taken to the Shifa hospital, where she underwent surgery to remove the bullet.

Odeh and her colleagues reported that no clashes were taking place in their vicinity at the time of the shooting. They also maintained they were clearly identifiable as journalists due to their conspicuous camera equipment. Video footage appeared to confirm their account.

IDF spokesman Olivier Rafowicz expressed regret for the incident and said that an IDF investigation was under way. He told CPJ that "there was no intention to hit the journalists" and added that the TV crew had been in a dangerous "area of violence."
On April 25, CPJ protested the attack in a letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and urged him to ensure that Israeli authorities launched a thorough investigation into this incident, as well as other similar cases involving journalists wounded by Israeli gunfire.

In a June 7 letter to CPJ, Prime Minister Sharon’s spokesman Raanan Gissin wrote that the Odeh incident was "under official IDF investigation," but said he "cannot release any of the findings yet." He added that "the Prime Minister and the IDF are serious about examining this matter thoroughly."

On June 11, a CPJ delegation met with the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., David Ivry, and presented him with the Odeh case and those of 15 other journalists wounded by live rounds or rubber-coated steel bullets since violence erupted in the occupied territories in late September 2001.

In response to CPJ’s research, the embassy wrote on June 19: "There was an investigation into this incident. The investigation revealed that Ms. Odeh was hit by a rubber bullet fired from a raised lookout position. The severity of her injuries was due to the use of rubber bullets from this position. Because use of rubber bullets in this situation were found to be dangerous, their use has been forbidden in such cases."

The ambassador also promised to send a detailed report to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and to the IDF asking for their immediate attention to the specific incidents highlighted by CPJ. In December, the IDF said the case was still under review.

• March 26, 2001. Israeli soldiers attacked Amer Jabari, a cameraman for ABC News; Nael Shiyoukhi, a cameraman for Reuters; and Hussam Abu Allan, a photographer for Agence France-Presse, while they were covering a Palestinian demonstration in the West Bank village of Halhoul.

According to Shiyoukhi, an officer approached the journalists and ordered them to evacuate the area in exactly one minute or face arrest. He gave no reason for the order.

When the journalists did not leave, soldiers began to push them, and one punched Jabari in the nose. Shiyoukhi was pushed against a military jeep. He also reported that an officer would have arrested him had a group of women not intervened.

Abu Allan, who was watching the incident, was struck with a rifle butt. The Israeli army alleged that the cameramen were preventing the soldiers from performing their work, and that one had attacked a commander. The cameramen denied these allegations.

March 21, 2001. Palestinian National Authority (PNA) security forces, acting on orders from President Yasser Arafat’s office, closed the Ramallah bureau of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite channel and barred its staff from entering the premises. The move apparently resulted from an Al-Jazeera promotional trailer that advertised a forthcoming episode in a documentary series about the Lebanese civil war. The trailer showed a demonstrator holding a pair of shoes over a photo of Arafat.

On March 19, PNA security authorities contacted the bureau to demand that Al-Jazeera withdraw the trailer within two hours or else face closure. Shortly thereafter, security officials visited the bureau and told staff that their office was closed indefinitely. On March 21, Palestinian security forces took up positions in front of the bureau and prevented staff from entering.

On March 23, following international condemnation and the intervention of several high-profile Palestinian figures, Arafat allowed Al-Jazeera’s bureau to reopen.

• March 10, 2001. Reuters cameramen Mazen Dana and Nael Shiyoukhi and Agence France-Presse photographer Hussam Abu Alan were attacked at around 4 p.m. by Jewish settlers in the West Bank town of Hebron.

The journalists were filming settlers throwing stones and empty bottles at local Palestinian residents near the Jewish settlement neighborhood of Tel Rumeida.

Dana was struck in the leg by a bottle and in the face by a stone, which cut his lip and broke three teeth. The settlers also threatened to smash the journalists’ cameras. Shiyoukhi, meanwhile, was kicked in the leg and hit in the neck with a stone before fleeing.

Israeli soldiers finally intervened and escorted Dana and Abu Alan away from the scene of the attack. However, the journalists were again attacked by a separate group of Jewish settlers, who broke Abu Alan’s camera. All three photographers were taken to a hospital for treatment.

• March 8, 2001. An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier in an armored carrier opened fire in the direction of three Reuters journalists—Christine Hauser, Ahmed Bahadou, and Suhaib Salem—at the Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip. Reporter Hauser, cameraman Bahadou, and free-lance photographer Salem were about 50 meters (55 yards) from the armored carrier when the soldier started firing a heavy machine gun in their direction. The journalists quickly took cover.

Reuters reported that when the shooting occurred, Bahadou and Salem were pointing their cameras in the opposite direction from the carrier, and that Hauser had taken out her notebook. The journalists believed they had made eye contact with the IDF soldiers in order to assure them that they were press. The Netzarim Junction was described as quiet at the time.

Army spokesman Olivier Rafowicz later characterized the gunfire as "warning shots," claiming the journalists had violating IDF policy by approaching the outpost. Due to the "tense security situation in Gaza," Rafowicz told Reuters, "civilians are not allowed to approach…outposts because of a present threat of terror activity." He added that the journalists failed to inform the IDF ahead of time of their presence in the area.

However, Reuters pointed out that the IDF requires no such notification from journalists working there. Hauser later said that contrary to what the Israeli army reported, the journalists were walking away from the IDF post when the shooting occurred.

In a June 19 response to CPJ’s research, Israel’s embassy in Washington, D.C., wrote that an "investigation was launched the day of the incident. The investigation found that the soldiers involved acted within IDF guidelines. An official statement from the IDF Spokesman was issued."

• February 16, 2001. From February 16 to 20, Israeli authorities barred editions of three Palestinian daily newspapers—Al-Quds, Hayat al-Jadida, Al-Ayyam—from entering the Gaza Strip. The measure was part of a closure of the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel in response to an attack on Israeli soldiers by Palestinian militants.

• February 15, 2001. A transmission tower of the private television station Nablus TV was damaged by Israeli gunfire during clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus. The tower was perched atop a residential building that was hit by the Israeli fire.

Ayman al-Nimer, technical director of the station, said that because of the destruction, about 40 percent of the station’s viewers could not watch the channel. Israeli fire had also knocked out the station’s transmission in January, stopping all broadcasts for
20 days.

Nimer told CPJ that he could not confirm that the station was targeted, but the fact that the transmission tower has been hit twice within a short period of time raises questions about the Israel Defense Forces’ intentions.

• February 11, 2001. Louay Abu Haikal and Hussam Abu Alan, photographers for Reuters and Agence France-Presse, respectively, were attacked by two Jewish settlers while covering clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron. Abu Haikal told CPJ that when he tried to defend himself from attack by pushing the settlers back, an Israeli soldier struck him in the neck with a rifle butt. The soldier then aimed the rifle at Abu Allan’s head and threatened to shoot him, according to the journalists. The soldier temporarily confiscated the journalists’ identification cards, which were returned after their respective news agencies were contacted.

• February 9, 2001. Laurent van der Stock, 36, a veteran photographer working for the GAMMA photo agency and Newsweek magazine, was struck in the left knee by a live bullet while covering clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli troops near the West Bank town of Ramallah. The bullet entered above his knee and exited through the back of his leg, severing an artery and causing nerve damage.

At the time of the incident, van der Stock and several other photojournalists had been covering clashes near the City Inn Hotel, along Ramallah’s border with its sister city, Al-Bireh, for about two hours. An Israeli army position composed of soldiers in jeeps was located about 100 meters (111 yards) away from the hotel. According to journalists at the scene, armed Israeli troops were also stationed in buildings situated on the high ground behind the jeeps, some 500 meters (555 yards) from the journalists.

According to the journalists, Palestinian demonstrators had launched several attacks on the Israeli jeeps, using stones, pipes, and slingshots. The soldiers responded by exiting their jeeps and opening fire with rubber bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades. Palestinian gunmen in buildings along the main road also fired sporadically on the Israeli positions in the course of the afternoon.

At about 3:15 p.m., van der Stock ventured into the middle of the road during clashes in order to photograph Palestinian youths retreating from an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) counterattack. "I understood the demonstrators would run back, so I ran [out] about 20 seconds ahead of time and photographed people running [retreating] toward me," van der Stock told CPJ. "I was shot in the [left] knee."

Van der Stock described the situation just prior to the incident as chaotic but added that anyone firing live ammunition into the crowd should have known that he was a photographer, since he carried two cameras around his neck.

In a telephone interview, IDF spokesman Olivier Rafowicz told CPJ that IDF troops and Palestinian gunmen were engaged in a fierce gun battle at the time van der Stock was shot. Because of the general confusion and because the bullet that entered the photographer’s leg was never retrieved, the army was unable to determine who fired the shot, Rafowicz claimed.

Nonetheless, van der Stock and eyewitnesses interviewed by CPJ maintained that the shot was likely fired by an Israeli soldier stationed either on the ground or in a nearby building. "The way the bullet came and hit him straight in the knee, there was no doubt it came from straight ahead [i.e., the Israeli positions]," one photographer at the scene told CPJ. "The Palestinian gunmen who were firing earlier were in the buildings…100 meters [111 yards] to the left and right but behind Laurent. His back would have been to the Palestinian gunmen…From what I saw…it would have to be a ballistic miracle for him to have been hit by Palestinian fire." Moreover, journalists on the scene added that gunfire from the Palestinian side had ceased for some time before van der Stock was shot.

On March 13, CPJ wrote the IDF spokesman’s office to urge the IDF to launch a serious and thorough investigation to determine if one of its soldiers in fact fired the round that injured Laurent van der Stock, and for what reason. CPJ also requested that the IDF release the findings of this investigation, along with any additional information that might shed light on

:: Article nr. 44296 sent on 24-may-2008 00:31 ECT


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