Silencing the Press

 

 

A Report on Israeli Attacks against Journalists

 

01 October 2002 - 31 March 2003

 

 

 

 

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Consultative Status with the ECOSOC of the United Nations

Affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists – Geneva

Member of the International Federation for Human Rights – Paris

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network

 

E-mail: pchr@pchrgaza.org

Web-Page: www.pchrgaza.org

 

 


 

 

 

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

 Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948

 

 

  

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

 Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966

 

 

  

“Journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians … They shall be protected as such under the Conventions and this protocol, provided that they take no action adversely affecting their status as civilians…”

 Article 79Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (Protocol 1)
 

 

Introduction

 Israeli occupying forces have continued to attack journalists despite the protection assigned to them under international humanitarian law.  Journalists have been subjected to various kinds of attacks in what appear to be attempts by Israel to prevent media coverage of human rights violation perpetrated by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

 

In response to these ongoing Israeli military on journalists, PCHR have issued a series of reports, “Silencing the Press,” which document attacks against local and international journalists and media institutions in the OPT during the current Intifada. 

 

This report is the ninth in the series.  Previous reports covered the period 29 September 2000 – 30 September 2002; during this period, PCHR documented 344 attacks perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces against journalists and media institutions.  This report seeks to document ill treatment of journalists by Israeli occupying forces in the period 1 October 2002 – 31 March 2003.  During this period PCHR documented 46 attacks on journalists and media institutions.  This brings the total number of attacks documented by PCHR between 29 September 2000 and 31 March 2003, to at least 390.  Attacks on local and international journalists include shootings, beatings, verbal abuse and humiliation, arbitrary arrest and detention, interrogations, damage to media equipment. 

 

During this reporting period, PCHR documented a number of incidents in which Israeli occupying forces opened fire at clearly identifiable journalists.  At least 8 journalists were wounded in such attacks.  In a further 4 such incidents, no injuries were reported.  Also during this period, PCHR documented 15 cases of arbitrary arrest of journalists, 7 cases in which journalists were beaten and humiliated, 3 cases in which media institutions were raided, 4 cases in which press cards and media equipment were confiscated, 2 cases in which the homes of journalists were raided, and 3 cases in which journalists were prevented from carrying out their work by Israeli occupying forces. 

 

Attacks on Palestinian and international journalists by the Israeli occupying forces reached an unprecedented level in 2002/3, particularly in the context of the large-scale Israeli military offensivesOperations Defensive Shield and Determined Path. 

 

In 2002, Israeli occupying forces shot dead 3 journalists.  On 11 March 2002, they shot dead Raffaele Ciriello, a freelance photographer.  On 12 July 2002, they shot deadEmad Subhi Abu Zahra, director of al-Nakhil Press and Media Office in Jenin.  On 22 September 2002, they shot dead 'Essam Mithqal Hamza al-Talawi, a journalist from Sawt Falastin (Voice of Palestine) radio station.  In addition, 34 journalists were wounded by Israeli occupying forces in 2002.

 


 

Table 1: Israeli Attacks on Journalists

29  September 2000 – 31 December 2002

 

No.

Kind of attack

29 September – 31December 2000

1  January –31December 2001

 January  –31December 2002

1.

Shooting attacks resulting in death

--

2

3

2.

Shooting attacks resulting in injuries

22

33

34

3.

Shooting without causing casualties

4

17

17

4.

Arrest, detention or interrogation

1

16

62

5.

Beating and humiliation

9

30

24

6.

Shelling at, or destruction of, or closure of media institutions

4

10

33

7.

Confiscation of media equipment

4

5

32

8.

Denial of access to specific areas

2

3

2

9.

House raids

--

--

4

Total

46

116

211

373  attacks

 


 

 

Diagram 1: Escalation of Israeli Attacks on Journalists

29  September 2000 – 31 December 2002

 

 

 

Diagram 1 demonstrates an increasing disregard by the Israeli occupying forces for the protections afforded to journalists under international humanitarian law.  PCHR considers these attacks in the context of attempts to prevent media coverage of human rights violations perpetrated by those forces against Palestinian civilians in the OPT. 

 

The year 2002 saw an increased number of attacks by the Israeli occupying forces against journalists in comparison to the preceding two years.  Israeli occupying forces shot and killed 3 journalists in 2002, compared with one such incident in 2001.  In addition, 34 journalists were wounded in 2002, compared with 33 in 2001.  In 2002, Israeli occupying forces also increased the use of arbitrary arrest, detention and interrogation against journalists; there were 62 of such cases in 2002, compared with 16 in 2001.  In 2002, Israeli occupying forces shelled, destroyed or closed 32 media institutions, compared with 5 such incidents in 2001. 

 

PCHR is concerned that this increase in attacks on journalists reflects a policy of preventing media coverage of the ongoing widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law perpetrated by the Israeli occupying forces against the Palestinian civilian population throughout the OPT.   PCHR condemns these attacks, which typify the ongoing indiscriminate and disproportionate lethal force used by Israeli occupying forces in the OPT.  PCHR reiterates its call to the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to fulfill their legal and moral obligations, and immediately intervene to halt these ongoing violations committed by Israel, and to provide effective international protection for the Palestinian people.

 

 

 

 

29  September 2002

 

Raid on the Afaq Television Station

 

Israeli occupying forces raided offices of Afaq television channel, located in the center of Nablus.  They arrested the director of the channel, 'Eissa Abu al-'Ez.  They also restricted broadcasting and damaged equipment.  In his statement on the raid, Abu al-'Ez said:

On 29 September 2002, Israeli occupying forces surrounded 'Aloul and Abu Salha commercial building in Nablus.  They broke down the doors and entered the offices in the building.  They raided the offices of Afaq television channel on the 7th floor of the building.  They held me and some of my colleagues on the ground floor of the building.  They handcuffed and verbally abused me.  When they had gained total control of the building, they smashed the windows and restricted broadcasting for more than 15 minutes.  Then, Israeli soldiers took me in an armored personnel carrier to Hawara detention center and then to 'Ofer prison.  I remained in custody for 12 days for no apparent reason.

 

 

 

30  September 2002

 

Journalist Wounded[1]

 

Nasser Eshtayeh, a cameraman of Associated Press, was wounded by a live bullet in the left foot fired by an Israeli soldier positioned on a tank.  Eshtayeh was reporting on clashes that erupted between Israeli occupying forces and Palestinian civilians at al-Hussein square in the center of Nablus.  In his statement on the incident, Eshtayeh said:

At approximately 14:00 on 30 September 2002, I was at al-Hussein (al-Shuhada) square in the center of Nablus reporting on an Israeli incursion into the city.  Clashes had erupted since the morning.  Israeli soldiers burnt a number of Palestinian stores.  The Israeli head officer had already allowed us to photograph.  I was wearing a bulletproof jacket marked "press."  I moved closer to the tank to photograph it while they were firing at the boys.  As I moved away from the tank, an Israeli soldier on the tank deliberately fired at me.  I was wounded by a live bullet in the left foot.  I was evacuated to Nablus Specialized Hospital, where I had remained for 10 days.

 

Media Equipment Confiscated

 

Israeli soldiers confiscated a videotape of clashes that erupted in Nablus on the same day, which Hassan al-Titi, a cameraman of Reuters news agency had filmed.  According to information available to PCHR, due to the siege imposed on the city, al-Titi tried to hand the videotape to a taxi driver on the other side of an Israeli military checkpoint near the city, to transfer it to the Reuters offices in Jerusalem.  Israeli soldiers confiscated the tape.  Later, an Israeli military spokesman admitted that Israeli soldiers at a military checkpoint outside Nablus confiscated a videotape from a Reuters cameraman.[2]

 

 

7  October 2002

 

Journalist Wounded

 

Samir Abu al-Rub, a cameraman of Associated Press, was injured while he was together with other journalists reporting on clashes between Israeli occupying forces and Palestinians in the center of Jenin.  According to information available to PCHR, an Israeli tank fired a shell that hit a wall near the journalists.  Abu al-Rub was injured in the shoulder as debris from the wall fell on him.  The journalists were wearing bulletproof jackets marked "press."

 

 

14  October 2002

 

Journalist Detained

 

Israeli occupying forces detained Mohammed Fayadh, an editor of the Palestinian News Agency (Wafa).  In the afternoon, Fayadh was on his way from his home in al-Qarara village, north of Khan Yunis, to his work in Gaza city.  He and other Palestinians traveling to Gaza city were blocked between al-Matahen and Abu Houli military checkpoints on Salah al-Din Street between Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah.  Israeli soldiers checked all those who were stuck between the two checkpoints.  Israeli soldiers took Fayadh away in a military jeep and interrogated him for 3 hours.  They cut up his press card.  In his statement on the incident to PCHR, Fayadh said:

At approximately 14:00 on Monday, 14 October 2002, I was traveling to work at the Palestinian News Agency (Wafa) in Gaza city along Salah al-Din Street. When I crossed al-Matahen checkpoint, north of Khan Yunis, towards Deir al-Balah, and became close to the Abu Houli checkpoint, Israeli soldiers closed the two checkpoints.  They deployed in the area, checked people and searched cars.  They ordered me to get out of the taxi I was traveling in.  Then, they took me in a military jeep to the west of al-Matahen checkpoint.  They forced me out of the jeep and interrogated me about my work and area of residence.  I refused to show them my press card, which is signed by Wafa, as Israeli forces were waging a campaign against my colleagues in the West Bank.  The interrogation lasted for 3 hours, during which Israeli soldiers cut up my press card.

 

 

25  October 2002

 

Shooting at Journalists

 

Israeli occupying forces opened fire at a group of journalists and reporters of local and international news agencies as they were filming a roadblock on the coastal road near "Netzarim" settlement, south of Gaza city.  'Aadel al-Za'noun, correspondent of Palestine Television and France Press, Mohammed Nassar, a cameraman of Palestine Television, Nidal al-Mughrabi, correspondent of Reuters news agency in Gaza, and Ibrahim Barzaq, correspondent of Associated Press, were among the group.  Live bullets hit a vehicle of Palestine Television, in which al-Za'noun and Nassar were traveling, but no casualties were reported.  In his statement to PCHR, al-Za'noun said:

At approximately 13:30 on Friday, 25 October 2002, Mohammed Nassar and I went to the western junction of "Netzarim" settlement on the coastal road to report on the closure of the junction by Israeli occupying forces.  We stopped our car approximately 200m southwest of the junction.  There, we met Nidal al-Mughrabi and Ibrahim Barzaq.  Barzaq parked his car, which was marked "press", on the roadside to be seen by Israeli soldiers.  We all moved forward carrying cameras to be able to photograph sand barriers established by Israeli forces.  When we got approximately 100m away from one of the sand barriers, 4 Israeli soldiers appeared suddenly from behind the barriers and fired in the air.  Barzaq shouted in Hebrew: "press."  We moved back until we reached our car.  My colleagues lay down behind the car.  Israeli soldiers continued to fire in the air.  Our car was hit by a live bullet. 

 

 

   

31  October 2002

 

Beatings of Journalists

 

A group of the Israeli Border Police beat and verbally abused 'Ammar 'Awadh, a cameraman of Reuters news agency, and Mustafa al-Barghouthi, a freelance journalist.  'Awadh and al-Barghouthi were reporting on Israeli measures near Qalandya checkpoint, between Ramallah and Jerusalem.  Israeli soldiers cut 'Awadh's press card up and erased photographs on al-Barghouthi's digital camera.  In his statement on the incident 'Awadh said:

At approximately 13:30 on 31 October 2002, my colleague, Mustafa al-Barghouthi, and I were in al-Kassarat area near Qalandya checkpoint, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, filming Israeli soldiers who were detaining and beating dozens of Palestinians.  Immediately, Israeli soldiers moved towards us and took our press cards, which were issued by the Israeli governmental press bureau.  They also ordered us to remove the films from our digital cameras, but we refused.  They attacked us and took our cameras.  They removed all the films from my colleague's camera and some films from my camera.  They also confiscated my press card.    

 

 

18  November 2002

 

Journalist Wounded

 

Sahams al-Din 'Oudetallah, a cameraman of Reuters news agency, was wounded by shrapnel in the left arm when Israeli forces opened fire at him, while he was reporting on an Israeli military incursion into Tal al-Hawa and Sheikh 'Ejlin neighborhoods in Gaza city.  During the incursion, Israeli forces destroyed a number of Palestinian civilian and security facilities.  In his statement to PCHR on the incident, 'Oudetallah said:

At approximately 22:45 on Sunday, 17 November 2002, Israeli helicopter gun ships attacked the headquarters of the Palestinian Preventive Security in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in the southwest of Gaza city.  Immediately, my assistant cameraman, Ahmed al-Khatib, went to the area to report on the attack and an Israeli military ground incursion into the area.  At approximately 01:30 on the following day, some journalists and I mounted the roof of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation building, which overlooks the street where Israeli tanks were moving.  Approximately 20 minutes later, while I was filming, Israeli tanks opened fire at us.  I felt pain in my left arm and fell down.  My colleagues evacuated me to a hospital, where I discovered that I had been wounded by shrapnel from a live bullet.  

 

 

19  November 2002

 

Journalist Beaten

 

Israeli soldiers beat Ma'moun Wazqaz, a cameraman with the Reuters news agency, in Hebron.  Wazqaz was among 13 Palestinian journalists who had just left the house of their colleague, Khaled Da'na, where they had been eating Ramadan breakfast.  According to information available to PCHR, Israeli soldiers stopped the journalists near an Israeli military location in Hebron.  They interrogated and provoked the journalists.  When the conversation between Wazqaz and Israeli soldiers became heated, they kicked and beat him.  An Israeli soldier hit him on the leg. 

 

 

22  November 2002

 

Journalists Detained

 

Israeli occupying forces detained 2 journalists, Mohammed al-Ballas, a reporter for the local daily al-Ayyam, and 'Ali Sammoudi, a reporter for al-Jazeera Satellite Channel and a cameraman for the Reuters news agency, and an Irish peace activist, Kueva Peterly, while they were reporting on an Israeli incursion into Jenin refugee camp.  According to information available to PCHR, Israeli soldiers handcuffed Sammoudi and detained him together with his colleagues in an Israeli military post near the UNRWA offices in Jenin for more than an hour and a half, during which time the three were searched and interrogated. 

 

 

25  November 2002

 

A Judicial Decision against a Journalist

 

The Israeli High Court sanctioned an Israeli governmental decision denying Khaled al-Zaghari, a photographer of the local daily al-Quds, the right to work.  The High Court rejected an appeal submitted by al-Zaghari against a decision to confiscate his press card.  The judges accepted the position of the Israeli prosecution, which claimed that al-Zaghari's press card was necessarily confiscated for security reasons.  No details regarding the so-called security reasons were given. 

 

Journalists Beaten

 

On the same day, Israeli soldiers attacked two Palestinian journalists in the courtyard in front of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  They detained Karim al-'Asakra and Amin al-'Asakra, of al-Mahad television channel, for more than two hours.  Israeli soldiers confiscated videotapes the two journalists had filmed which showed Israeli military attacks on Palestinians in the town

 

 

26  November 2002

 

Journalists Detained and Used as Human Shields 

 

Israeli soldiers used a number of journalists as human shields to apparently to protect themselves from Palestinian stone throwers.  The journalists were reporting on clashes that erupted between Palestinian civilians and Israeli soldiers in Nablus.  Israeli soldiers forced the journalists to stand in front an Israeli military jeep as Palestinian demonstrators threw stones at the Israeli soldiers.  'Alaa' Badarna, a cameraman with the Reuters news agency and the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi, was hit by a stone in the foot.  The journalists left the area when Israeli soldiers threatened to arrest them. 

 

 

27  November 2002

 

Journalist Detained

 

Israeli soldiers detained 'Ammar 'Awadh, a cameraman with the Reuters news agency, at Qalandya checkpoint, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, for more than 4 hours.  They claimed that 'Awadh had been operating in a closed military zone.  In his statement on the incident, 'Awadh said:

On 27 November 2002, I was near Qalandya checkpoint on Ramallah-Jerusalem road reporting on Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians and restrictions on free movement.  Israeli soldiers were beating an old man.  I filmed the scene.  Immediately, Israeli soldiers attacked me and ordered me to remove the film, claiming that I was working in a closed military zone, but I refused.  They detained me for more than 4 hours, during which time they forced me to sit in the mud. 

 

 

15  December 2002

 

6  Journalists Arrested

 

Israeli occupying forces arrested 6 Palestinian journalists: ‘Abdul Rahman Khabisa, a reporter with the Associated Press; ‘Abdul Rahim al-Qussini, a reporter with the Reuters news agency; ‘Alaa’ Badarna, a cameraman with the Reuters news agency and a reporter for the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi; Nasser Eshtayeh, a cameraman with the Associated Press; Ja’far Eshtayeh, a photographer with France Press; and Hassan al-Titi, a cameraman with the Reuters news agency.  The six journalists were reporting on the siege imposed by Israeli occupying forces on an-Najah National University in Nablus.  They were taken to an Israeli military location west of the city. In his statement on the incident, ‘Alaa’ Badarna said:

On 15 December 2002, while I and some Palestinian journalists were reporting on the siege imposed by Israeli occupying forces on an-Najah National University and their attempt to break into the campus, Israeli soldiers moved towards us and requested our press cards.  They took the cards and then transferred us to a college that had been already transformed into a military location and a detention center.  We were traveling in two vehicles marked with the word “press,” between 2 Israeli tanks.  At the detention center, an Israeli officer told us that we had been operating in a closed military zone.  When we told him that we are journalists, and that we were carrying out our job, he said: “You are journalists, but Palestinians.”  We were detained for 8 hours.  Then, our news agencies intervened and we were released.  Upon our release, Israeli soldiers told us that we would be arrested if we were found reporting on any incident.” 

 

 

17  December 2002

 

3  Journalists Detained

 

Israeli soldiers raided the house of Rami Swaidan, a cameraman with Nablus television channel, in Nablus.  They searched the house and arrested him.  No details were given of the reasons for his arrest and detention.  His family told PCHR that he has been placed under a 3-month administrative detention order and transferred to a prison in the Negev Desert. 

 

 

19  December 2002

 

Journalist Beaten

 

Israeli Border Police beat Ja’far Eshtayeh, a photographer with Agence France Press.  They had stopped him while he was on his way from his home in Salem village to his work in Nablus.  Eshtayeh was photographing practices by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian civilians at a military checkpoint between Salem village and Nablus.  Israeli soldiers tried to confiscate his camera and films, but he refused.  They beat him and kicked him down into the mud.  In his statement on the incident, Eshtayeh said:

On Thursday morning, 19 December 2002, I was traveling from Salem village to my work in Nablus on foot as Israeli occupying forces had dug a trench around the village, obstructing the movement of cars from and into the village.  An Israeli military jeep had set up a temporary checkpoint.  I tried to photograph the scene, but an Israeli soldier called me over and said: “Why are you photographing?” I told him that I am working for Agence France Press.  He tried to confiscate my camera, but I refused and he hit me on my head.  Other Israeli soldiers got out of the jeep and beat me.  They took the camera, but there were no photos.  Then, an Israeli soldier said to me: “If I see you again, I will shoot you.”

 

3  Journalists Beaten

On the same day, Israeli soldiers attacked 3 journalists: Mousa al-Sha’er, a cameraman with Agence France Press; Eyad Hamad, a cameraman with TNB; and Yousef al-Shoumali, a cameraman with the BBC, while they were filming in the courtyard in front of the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem.  In his statement on the incident, al-Sha’er said: 

On 19 December 2002, while we were in the courtyard of the Church of the Nativity, we were surprised by 12 Israeli soldiers and officers getting out of the Church.  When we photographed them, they beat us.  Then they confiscated our identity and press cards, and our films.     

 

 

29  December 2002

 

Journalist Wounded

 

At approximately 12:30, Israeli soldiers at a military checkpoint at the entrance of al-Mawasi area in the west of Rafah, opened fire at Palestinians and internationals who were participating in a peaceful sit-in.  Residents of the area had organized the sit-in which took place approximately 200m away from the checkpoint.  Twenty members of the International Solidarity Movement participated in the sit-in, which called for allowing residents of the area to cross the checkpoint to get to their homes, as the checkpoint had been closed since 6 November 2002.  A Palestinian journalist, Tamer Nasser al-Din Ziada, a cameraman with Associated Press, was wounded by a live bullet in the head.  PCHR’s field worker in Rafah reported that the journalist was wearing a bullet-proof suit marked with press.  He added that the area had not witnessed any clashes and that Israeli soldiers clearly fired directly at the participants.  In his affidavit to PCHR, Ziara said:

At approximately 11:50, on Sunday, 29 December 2002, I went towards an Israeli military checkpoint at the entrance of al-Mawasi area near Tal al-Sultan neighborhood in the west of Rafah, to report on a sit-in organized by residents of the area who had been denied access to their homes in the Mawasi.  A delegation from the International Solidarity Movement also participated in the sit-in.  At approximately 12:00, while I was with other journalists and some members of International Solidarity Movement, Israeli soldiers opened fire at us.  I saw live bullets hitting the ground.  Soon, I felt as if a stone had hit my head.  I fell onto the ground. 

 

Various Attacks on Journalists

On the same day, Israeli occupying forces arrested Mustafa Shawkat Simha, a journalist and a spokesman for the International Solidarity Movement, near Jayous village in Qalqilya.  They beat him and a US journalist, Radica Sneh, who had tried to defend him.  They then took him to a detention center in “Kidumim” settlement.  Simha was accompanying journalists and members of International Solidarity Movement, who were reporting on Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians.  Simha told Israeli soldiers that he was a journalist and that he had an international press card.  In the same incident, Ussama Qashwa’, a freelance journalist, was injured.  In his statement on the attack, Simha said:

On 29 December 2002, while I was reporting on an international march in Jayous village near Qalqilya protesting against the confiscation of Palestinian land by Israeli occupying forces for the construction of a separating wall between the West Bank and Israel.  Debate erupted between the participants and Israeli soldiers who came to disperse them.  Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters, so I and members of International Solidarity Movement took shelter in a nearby house.  Israeli soldiers broke into the house and searched it.  International journalists intervened to protect me, but Israeli soldiers opened fire at them.  They also beat Radica Sneh, a US journalist with the International Solidarity Movement.  The detained me in Jayous village for 6 hours, during which time they beat me.  Then, they took me to “Kidumim” settlement.  They refused to recognize me as a journalist.  After an 8-day detention without charge, they interrogated me, accusing me of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers.  Three soldiers, one of whom was not even present in the area during the incident, testified against me.  The testimonies were different from one another.  When I denied the charge before the interrogator, he said: “A journalist is not a prophet and many journalists were killed or arrested.”  I was brought to trial on the same day, and my detention was renewed for another 8 days to conclude the investigation.  On 27 January 2003, the court decided that I must pay 3000 NIS (approximately US$ 700) as a non-refundable bail pending another decision by the court on 19 March 2003.  The court also ordered me to go to a police station in “Kidumim” settlement every Thursday to prove my presence and not to participate in any press work or demonstrations pending the trial session.  They assigned my residence in Jayous village.[3] 

 

 

31  December 2002

 

Raid on Ramallah Press Office

 

Israeli occupying forces arrestedAbdul Rahim al-Rimawi, correspondent of the United Arab Emirates daily, al-Bayan.  Israeli soldiers had raided Ramallah press office in the center of Ramallah and searched it before they arrested al-Rimawi.  In his statement on the incident, al-Rimawi said:

After they had moved into Ramallah on 31 December 2002, Israeli soldiers closed al-Sa’a square.  Masked Israeli soldiers broke into al-Maidan building, where Ramallah press office is located.  They searched the building and detained its staff.  Then, they ordered me to accompany them, informing me that I was under arrest.  They took me to “Beit Eil” settlement near Ramallah and made formal arrest procedures.  However, they released me a few hours later.[4]  

 

21  January 2003

 

2  Journalists Beaten

 

Israeli soldiers beat Ja’far Eshtayeh, of Agence France Press, and Nasser Estayeh, of Associated Press.  The two journalists were photographing 2 Palestinian children, who were being arrested by Israeli soldiers and tied to the front of a military jeep.  In his statement on the attack, Ja’far Eshtayeh said: 

On 21 January 2003, we went to Khellat al-‘Aamoud area to report on clashes between Israeli occupying forces and Palestinian boys.  While we were trying to photograph Israeli soldiers closely, we were surprised to see an Israeli military jeep moving around with 2 Palestinian children tied to it.  The jeep toured around the city.  It then moved into a closed street.  When Israeli soldiers noticed us trying to photograph them, they got the children down and the jeep moved very fast towards us.  Israeli soldiers tried to confiscate our cameras, but we resisted, so they beat us.  An Israeli soldier said to me: “If I see you again, I will kill you.”  He pointed at my neck. 

 

28 January 2003

 

Journalist Wounded

Israeli occupying forces operating in Jenin opened fire at Saif Shawqi al-Dahla, a photographer with Agence France Press, wounding him with 2 live bullets in the right leg and foot.  In his statement on the incident, al-Dhala said: At approximately 07:30 on 28 January 2003, I and a number of journalists and international volunteers went to the center of Jenin to report on an Israeli incursion into the town.  While I was there, I received a phone call from a resident of the town who informed me that a young man had been wounded in Faisal Street and no one was able to offer him help.  I and my colleagues went to the area immediately.  When we arrived there, an Israeli tank had stopped approximately 5m away from the body of a Palestinian young man.  I moved towards the tank to let Israeli soldiers identify me as a journalist as I was wearing a helmet marked with press and a bullet-proof suit with “TV” written on it.  I photographed the Palestinian victim.  Israeli soldiers opened fire at me and I fell to the ground.  I crawled until I got far away from the tank.  My colleagues evacuated me to hospital where I discovered that I had been wounded by 2 live bullets in the right leg and foot.

 

 

30 January 2003

 

Forcible Closure of Television Stations

 

Early in the morning, dozens of Israeli heavy military vehicles, including bulldozers, moved into Palestinian Authority controlled areas in Hebron.  They imposed a curfew on the town, and bulldozers blocked the main and branch roads.  Israeli soldiers raided and closed down governmental institutions and television stations.  In this context, they raided the offices of al-Nawras and al-Majd television channels, and the Marah radio station, and forcibly closed down all operations.  No reasons were given for these actions. 

 

 

31 January 2003

 

Journalist Arrested

 

Israeli occupying forces arrested KhaledAbdul Nabi Mufleh, correspondent of the local daily al-Hayat al-Jadida and a member of staff of the public relations department at an-Najah National University in Nablus.  Israeli occupying forces had moved into Bieta village, south of Nablus, and surrounded Mufleh’s house.  They raided his house and conducted a search.  They also searched his father’s house.  Then, they arrested Mufleh.  According to his family, they informed the ICRC about his arrest, and the ICRC later notified them that Mufleh was being detained in Ashkelon prison.  At time of writing, Mufleh remains in Israeli detention.

 

 

20 February 2003

 

Journalists Fired at

 

Israeli occupying forces positioned near the junction on the coastal road leading to “Netzarim” settlement, south of Gaza city, opened fire at journalists with al-Arabiya satellite channel who were reporting on the Israeli closure of the coastal road, which separates Gaza city from the middle Gaza Strip.  The journalists were wearing bullet-proof jackets clearly marked with "press".  In his statement to PCHR on the incident, Saif Shahin, Gaza correspondent for the channel, said:

At approximately 11:30 on 20 February 2003, I and 4 staff members of al-Arabiya satellite channel went to “Netzarim” junction on the coastal road, south of Gaza city.  When we arrived there, Israeli soldiers opened fire at us for no apparent reason.  We took shelter behind some buildings and then left the area. 

 

 

23 February 2003

 

Various Attacks on Journalists

Israeli occupying forces launched a number of attacks against Palestinian journalists in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun.  The journalists were reporting on an Israeli military incursion into Beit Hanoun, which left large-scale destruction to property in the town.  Israeli soldiers arrested Ahmed al-Khatib, a cameraman with the Reuters news agency, and detained Mohammed Shana’a, an assistant cameraman with Reuters news agency both for more than one hour.  They also opened fire at journalists, including Ibrahim Barzaq, Hassan ‘Abdul Fattah and Najib Abu al-Jabin, of Associated Press; Mahmoud al-Mobayedh, of the Ramatan Company for Media Production; and ‘Abdul Salam Shehada, a cameraman with a Japanese television channel.  A vehicle belonging to the Japanese television channel was hit by several live bullets and was severely damaged, although the vehicle was clearly marked with "TV".  In his testimony on these incidents, Ahmed al-Khatib said:

At approximately 06:30 on 23 February 2003, I went to Beit Hanoun to report on an Israeli military incursion into the town.  At approximately 07:00, we entered the town traveling in vehicles clearly marked with "TV".  We were wearing bullet-proof jackets marked with "press".  We saw Israeli tanks in the centre of the town opening fire and I photographed them.  It was difficult for us to leave the town as Israeli forces had imposed a strict siege.  So, I got out of the vehicle to take more photographs.  Mohammed Shana’a, an assistant cameraman with the Reuters news agency, and Mahmoud al-Mobayedh, of the Ramatan Company for Media Production, were with me.  Soon, 3 Israeli tanks and an armored personnel carrier moved towards us.  One of the tanks stopped about 5m away from me and the armored personnel carrier stopped behind me.  Israeli soldiers requested our identity cards but they refused to check our press cards.  They ordered us to stop photographing.  Then, they returned the identity cards.  They ordered me to stay and my colleagues to leave the area.  A number of Israeli soldiers got out of the tank and handcuffed and blindfolded me.  They pulled me into the armored personnel carrier.  I remained there for 4 hours, during which time the carrier was firing.  The carrier stopped and Israeli soldiers moved me to another carrier, where I remained for more than 3 hours, during which they beat and insulted me.  Then, Israeli soldiers moved me to another vehicle, which took me to an Israeli police station in the “Erez” area.  There, I explained what happened to me.  The police tried to accuse me of being a member of Palestinian organizations, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but I rejected the accusations.  The Israeli police refused to receive me from Israeli soldiers.  The soldiers then took me to a detention center.  They followed the procedures they usually follow against detainees.  They left me in the rain for an hour, during which time they verbally abused me.  Then, they put me in a cell.  The Reuters news agency intervened to release me, and Israeli occupying forces released me at 21:00.

 

In his testimony to PCHR on the attacks, ‘Abdul Salam Shehada said:

I was in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun to report on an Israeli military incursion into the town, thinking that Israeli occupying forces had withdrawn from the area.  I and other journalists entered the town.  Suddenly, we were trapped in al-Za’anin Street.  Israeli soldiers opened fire at us.  I and my colleague got out of the vehicles and went to take shelter.  When things quietened down, I went back to our vehicle, which was severely damaged by live bullets, although it was clearly marked as a press vehicle.

 

Press Cards Confiscated

 

On the same day, Israeli occupying forces confiscated press and identity cards from 2 Palestinian journalists as they were carrying out their work in Nablus.  ‘Alaa’ Badarna, a cameraman with the Reuters news agency and a reporter for the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi, and Ja’far Eshtayeh, a photographer with Agence France Press, were reporting on an Israeli military incursion into the city.  In his statement on the incident Badarna said:

On 23 February 2003, I and Ja’far Eshtayeh went to al-Makhfiya area in Nablus to report on an Israeli incursion into the area.  We saw an Israeli military jeep hitting a civilian car and pushing it into a nearby wall.  Israeli soldiers forced the occupants out of the car and arrested them.  We started photographing the scene.  Immediately, Israeli soldiers hurried towards us and requested my press and identity cards and Eshtayeh’s press card.  We still have not had our cards returned.  When the Reuters news agency intervened with Israeli forces, the Israeli forces claimed that they do not know the soldiers who confiscated the cards.

 

 

6 March 2003

 

2 Journalists Wounded

 

Two Palestinian journalists were wounded when an Israeli tank fired a shell at a number of Palestinian civilians, including firemen and journalists.  The two journalists, Ahmed Jadallah and Shams al-DinOudetallah, cameramen with the Reuters news agency, were reporting on an Israeli military incursion into Jabalya refugee camp.  They were wearing bullet-proof jackets clearly marked with "press".  Jadallah was seriously wounded by shrapnel in both feet and an artery of his left foot was cut.  ‘Oudetallah was wounded by shrapnel in the left foot.  In his testimony to PCHR on the attack, ‘Oudetallah said:

At approximately 06:00, Reuters staff: Ahmed Jadallah, Nidal al-Mughrabi and Mohammed Shana'a, and I went to Jabalya refugee camp to report on an Israeli incursion into the camp.  As we arrived at the club area in the camp, people began to exit their houses and gather in the street opposite to the sports club as they knew that Israeli occupying forces had withdrawn from the area.  While we were there, an Israeli helicopter gunship overhead opened fire at us.  We all escaped and the helicopters stopped firing. We saw smoke rising from a house in the south, so we and people from the camp went there to look.  We believed that Israeli tanks had left the area.  As we arrived at the crossroads of Jabalaya refugee camp with al-Jorn Street (Jabalya town), we saw a 3-storey house on fire.  A few minutes later, a Palestinian civil defense fire engine arrived.  The firemen began to extinguish the fire and I began to photograph them.  Within a few minutes, a shell fired from an Israeli tank, which was approximately 150m away, hit the door of the garage of the house.  We heard a heavy explosion.  I felt severe pain in my left foot, and found it was hit by shrapnel.  My colleague, Jadallah, was also wounded in both feet.

 

 

20  March 2003

 

2 Journalists Detained and a Third Shot at

 

Israeli occupying forces detained two Palestinian journalists and fired at a third, while the three journalists were reporting on Israeli military attacks on Palestinian civilians in Nablus.  Israeli occupying forces had moved into Ras al-‘Ein area in the old town of Nablus.  They held the 30 residents of an apartment building in one flat, and arrested more than 20 Palestinian civilians in the old town.  A number of journalists went to the area to report on these attacks.  Israeli forces detained Nasser Eshtayeh, a cameraman with Associated Press, and Ja’far Eshtayeh, a cameraman with Agence France Press, for more than an hour and prevented them from taking photographs.  In his statement on this incident, Nasser Eshtayeh said:

On 20 March 2003, my colleague, Ja’far Eshtayeh, a reporter with Agence France Press, and I went to the old town of Nablus to report on an Israeli incursion into the Ras al-‘Ein area.  Israeli occupying forces stopped us before we could get there.  They ordered us to move back.  When we explained that we were journalists and we were carrying out our job, they prevented us from photographing under the pretext that we were in a closed military area.  They detained us for about an hour.  Then, they allowed us to photograph, but without photographing their faces. 

 

Israeli soldiers also fired at Nazeeh Darwaza, a cameraman with Associated Press and Palestine Television, while he was on his way to the area to report on the Israeli incursion.  In his statement on this attack, Darwaza said:

At approximately 09:15, I went to the western part of the old town of Nablus to report on an Israeli incursion into the Ras al-‘Ein area.  I arrived at Abu ‘Obaida Street in Ras al-‘Ein area.  I was traveling in an armored vehicle clearly marked with "press".  I was also wearing a bullet-proof jacket.  When I got approximately 150m away from Israeli soldiers, one of them opened fire at me, but I was not hurt as the bullets hit the vehicle. 

 

 

21 March 2003

 

Denial of Distribution of Newspapers

 

Israeli occupying forces confiscated hundreds of copies of Palestinian newspapers in Hebron and prohibited their distribution under the pretext of the Israeli military curfew imposed on the town.  They also detained a number of distributors and confiscated their identity cards, telling them to refer to the “Israeli civil administration.”  Israeli soldiers also beat a newspaper vendor in the town.  In a statement, Fawzi al-Shwaiki, director of al-Fajr media office in Hebron, who is in charge of the distribution of newspaper in the town, said:

On 21 March 2003, our office vehicle was distributing newspapers as usual in al-Salam Street.  Israeli soldiers stopped it and ordered its occupants to get out of it.  They took their identity cards and detained them for 3 hours under the pretext of the curfew imposed on the town.  Israeli soldiers beat a paper seller as he was selling newspapers, which they considered a violation of the curfew imposed on the town.  They also confiscated the copies of newspapers he had. 

 

 

25 March 2003

 

Raid on Journalist’s House

 

Israeli occupying forces raided the house of ‘Aatef Sa’ad, a reporter with the Reuters news agency, in Nablus.  They searched the house and confiscated Sa’ad’s press card.  In a statement, Sa’ad said:

At approximately 00:45 on Tuesday, 25 March 2003, I heard banging on my door.  When I opened it, I saw 7 Israeli soldiers, heavily armed, accompanied by a tank, an armored personnel carrier and a military jeep.  The soldiers entered the house and told me that they were searching for weapons or ‘wanted people.’  They ordered me to wake my children and my mother and gather them in one room.  They ordered me also to turn all the lights on.  They searched the house thoroughly.  An Israeli soldier was photographing the scene.  They ordered us all to gather and photographed us.  I explained to them that I am a journalist holding two press cards.  They searched the house until 02:25.  They left the house.  We were terrified. 

 

 

 

PCHR’s Notes

 

1.PCHR considers these practices against journalists in the context of the ongoing Israeli abuses against Palestinian civilians.  PCHR also considers these incidents as reflecting ongoing Israeli disregard for international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

 

2.Most of such attacks by the Israeli forces against local and international press agencies were targeted; journalists attacked were clearly marked and identifiable as press.  PCHR considers that these attacks are an attempt to prevent objective and detailed coverage of Israeli military practices and policies implemented in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

 

3.PCHR calls on the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to meet their obligations under the Convention and immediately provide international protection for civilians.

 

4.PCHR calls on all international media to intervene to halt Israel's ongoing attacks on journalists and to ensure that they are able to work without restrictions and without fear of attack, or persecution.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Document

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For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893

PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail:pchr@pchrgaza.org, Webpage http://www.pchrgaza.org

 

 


 


[1] The two incidents should have been included in the 8th report, which covered the period 1 July – 30 September 2002.  However, insufficient information was available at that time.  Following further investigations and the collation of more detailed information, PCHR has included these incidents in this issue instead.  

[2] The three incidents occurred during the reporting period of the previous issue of Silencing the Press, 1 July – 30 September 2002.  However, insufficient information was available at the time.  Following further investigations, and the collation of more detailed information regarding the events, PCHR has thus included these incidents in the current issue.   

[3] In a phone call a PCHR researcher made with Simha, PCHR learned that Simha’s lawyer reached a deal with the Israeli prosecution on 17 March 2003, 2 days before the trial.  Under the deal, the assigned residence would be cancelled and he would be able to carry out his job as a journalist. 

[4] Ramallah press office was raided previously twice, in April and July 2002.  Israeli forces have attempted to break into it on several occasions.  For more details, please refer to the past two issues of Silencing the Press.