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Silencing the Press

 

A Report on Israeli Attacks against Journalists

April 01- June 30, 2002

 

 

Journalist ‘Emad Zharan bleeds when he was wounded

 

 

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

 

 

Introduction:

 

This report is the seventh of a continuing series of reports, which sets out the PCHR’s efforts to document Israeli practices against journalists of local and international press agencies during the Al-Aqsa Intifada. It documents Israeli abuses against journalists of local and international press agencies between the 1 April and 30 June 2002. From 29 September 2000 to 31 March 2002, PCHR documented at least 290 attacks on local and international journalists, including shooting at, beating and humiliating journalists, cases of arrest and interrogation, cases of destruction of media equipment, and shelling of media centers and institutions.

 

The period under study witnessed a massive full-scale Israeli offensive throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), especially in the West Bank. When the so-called “Security Fence” plan started on 29 March 2002, Israeli occupying forces launched an unprecedented full-scale offensive on the West Bank. They perpetrated grave human rights violations against Palestinian civilians and property, including the excessive and disproportionate use of force, indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, willful and extra-judicial killings and attacks on civilian property. As a result, dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed, hundreds were wounded, dozens were arrested and many public and private facilities were destroyed. Israeli forces closed Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps, isolating them from the outside world. An effect of this was the prevention of any media coverage of human rights violations that occurred. During this time, Israeli occupying forces launched an attack on the Jenin refugee camp. They imposed a strict siege on the camp and expelled all international personnel, including journalists. After this, the forces entered the camp and killed dozens of its residents. At the time of press, there was no exact numbers of those killed. However, a PCHR representative visited the camp, along with international humanitarian agencies, and was able to document the aftermath of the Israeli forces’ attack. Civilian property had been destroyed, a number of people killed and many had been injured.

 

In Nablus, Israeli occupying forces surrounded the old town and isolated it from the outside world. Then, they entered the town, killed dozens of Palestinian civilians and totally destroyed the area. Israeli occupying forces have regularly claimed that their crimes against innocent civilians are part of the war they wage against “Palestinian terrorism and its infrastructure.”

 

Israeli occupying forces have maintained the total siege imposed on the OPT, isolating Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camp from the outside world, and have repeatedly encroached into Palestinian areas. In the middle of June 2002, Israeli occupying forces initiated the construction of a security fence separating the West Bank from Israeli cities, in order to prevent Palestinians from entering into Israeli cities. For the purpose of this construction, Israeli forces have confiscated thousands of acres of Palestinian land. The result of this new Israeli policy is the creation of new facts on the ground and a re-definition of the border of any future Palestinian state. In a later development, on 30 June 2002, the Israeli forces declared that it would dissolve the Palestinian-Israeli civil liaison in the West Bank, a step considered by observers as a coup de grace of the Oslo Accords, and an Israeli attempt to revive the civil administration and impose military control over areas under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority. This step came as part of a new Israeli military campaign known as the “Firm Way,” which the Israeli government launched in retaliation for the killing of a number of Israelis in a bombing carried out by a Palestinian inside Israel in the middle of June 2002. This military campaign has included, inter alia, seizing complete control over towns, villages and refugee camps in the West Bank, imposing a curfew on their Palestinian population, wide-scale campaigns of arrest, shelling of residential areas and destroying Palestinian security sites and civilian property.

 

Local and foreign journalists and reporters have not been immune to assaults by Israeli occupying forces. In the period under study, Israeli forces increased their arbitrary practices against journalists and reporters, despite an outcry from international human right and press organizations, since these practices violated international human right standards. In the period under study, PCHR documented 154 attacks on local and international journalists. They included 11 cases of shooting at journalists and causing injury, 10 cases of shooting at journalists without causing injury, 14 cases of beating and humiliating journalists, 76 cases of arrest and interrogation, including three cases of administrative detention, 13 cases of destruction of, and raids on, media centers and institutions. The total number of Israeli attacks on local and international media since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada on 29 September 2002 has increased to 444.

 

It is becoming clear that Israeli practices against journalists are part of a systematic Israeli policy aimed at isolating the OPT from the outside world and facilitating the perpetration of further systematic human rights violations against Palestinian civilians and their property. Israeli occupying forces have significantly escalated their aggressive practices against journalists since 29 March 2002. In an unprecedented incident, Israeli forces shot a foreign journalist. Dozens of journalists have also been beaten and arrested. Despite repeated international calls to stop such practices, Israeli occupying forces have continued to attack journalists as part of the Israeli policy of waging a war against “Palestinian terrorism and its infrastructure.”

 

PCHR condemns these attacks by Israeli forces, which violate all relevant covenants and conventions, especially Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. PCHR considers these practices to be part of an Israeli policy that aims to hide crimes committed by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians in the OPT. PCHR reiterates its calls upon the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to fulfill their legal and moral obligations, immediately intervene to stop human rights violations perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces, and provide international protection for the Palestinian people.

 

The following is a list of attacks by the Israeli occupation forces on journalists and reporters of local and international press agencies during the period under study:

 

1 April 2002

 

After they had declared Ramallah a closed military zone, Israeli occupying forces perpetrated various human rights abuses against journalists and reporters, including:

 

  1. The obstruction and expulsion of the staff of CBS television channel.

  2. The beating and firing at a number for journalists and reporters, including:

    • Tariq al-Kayal, a cameraman for a German television channel;

    • Akram al-Qawasmi, a cameraman for a Belgian television channel;

    • Ahmed Siam, a cameraman for a Belgian television channel; and

    • ‘Ammar ‘Awadh, a photographer for Reuters news agency.

     

    In his testimony to the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW), al-Kayal said: “When we got close to the Palestinian presidential compound in Ramallah, Israeli occupying forces fired at us. They insulted us and then took photos of every one of us.” Al-Kayal added that Israeli soldiers showed them a written military order that obliged them to leave the area.

     

    1. Israeli occupying forces fired at a vehicle in which six European journalists were traveling near al-Manara square in Ramallah. No casualties were reported.

     

    In Beit Jala, Israeli occupying soldiers fired at Eyad Hamad, a reporter for AP Television News, wounding him in the foot. He was covering the Israeli offensive of the town.

     

    2 April 2002

     

    In Beit Jala, an armored Israeli personnel carrier fired several rounds at the Star Hotel where about two dozen journalists, covering the Israeli incursions, are based. Majid Bannura, a cameraman for the Arab satellite TV station al-Jazeera was lightly wounded by shrapnel from a rubber-coated metal bullet.

     

    In Ramallah, Israeli occupying forces arrested ‘Ata ‘Oweisat, a photographer for the Israeli daily Yediot Aharanot and Gamma News Agency, and Andre Diran, Director of Photography in Jerusalem and Palestinian Territories at Associated Press, near the Arab Bank in Ramallah. The two were first detained, beaten and harrassed before they were arrested.

     

    Also in Ramallah, Israeli occupying forces arrested Ahmed ‘Aassi, a cameraman for the Arab News Network (ANN), and transferred him to a detention camp in Asqalan (Ashkelon).

     

    The Israeli government press office cancelled the accreditation of two journalists from Abu Dhabi TV, Leila ‘Ouda and Jassim al-‘Azzawi, accusing them of broadcasting “anti-Israeli propaganda.” Al-‘Azzawi, was expelled. The Human rights organization Adalah, representing Leila ‘Ouda, appealed to the Israeli High Court against the decision of the Israeli government press office. On 16 May 2002, the Israeli Attorney General ordered the government press office to hand back ‘Ouda’s press card.

     

    3 April 2002

     

    At least eight Palestinian journalists have been arrested. Hamdi Farraj, head of the Palestinian TV station Al-Rou’aa, said two of his journalists, Ashraf Farraj and Jalal Hameid, and Sa’id ‘Ayad, a reporter of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, were arrested by Israeli occupying forces. They were detained and interrogated by Israeli forces in a detention camp near Ramallah. ‘Ayad stated that he was arrested together with 15 journalists while they were in a media center in Bethlehem. His press card was also confiscated. Israeli soldiers destroyed doors of the media center and the journalists’ cameras and mobile phones. ‘Ayad had been detained, handcuffed and blindfolded for three days, during which he was subjected to inhuman pressure and practices.

     

    During their incursion into Nablus, Israeli occupying forces arrested Nawaf al-‘Aamer, correspondent of Al-Quds daily.

     

    The Israeli government press office also wrote to the local bureau chiefs of the US networks NBC and CNN, accusing them of flagrantly defying army orders by working in closed military zones.

     

    4 April 2002

     

    In the morning, 16 Palestinian journalists were arrested in the press center in Bethlehem Municipality by the Israeli occupying forces and transported to a military location at “Kefar Etzion” settlement near Bethlehem. In the afternoon three journalists were released from Israeli detention and three more were let go the same evening. Ten remain in detention.

    In the morning the journalists were taken to an Israeli military location south of Bethlehem, where they were blindfolded and detained. Three of the 16, Sa’id ‘Ayyad (journalist, Voice of Palestine), Walid Abu ‘Aalia (photographer, al-Rou’ah TV), Ahmad Mezher (photographer, al-Mahed TV) were released in the afternoon, and the same evening three others, Mustafa Salah (editor, al-Rou’ah TV), ‘Alaa’ Daoud (technical operator, al-Rou’ah TV), and ‘Alaa’ al-‘Abed (Palestine Broadcasting Corporation) were freed.

    When asked about when the remaining 10 might be released, the IDF said they did not know and added that because alleged “terrorists” on earlier occasions had used a journalist cover, Israeli forces could not know whether the captured men really were journalists.

     

    5 April 2002

     

    Israeli occupying forces opened fire at a crowd of television and press reporters trying to cover the meeting between United States envoy Anthony Zinni and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. A CNN vehicle was hit by a bullet and shattered the rear window. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the Israeli attack on journalists, stating in a press release issued on the same day that they wrote to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appealing for an end to targeting of media in the current conflict., and stressing that “Israel must recognize that journalists carrying out their professional duties are non-combatants who are protected by the Geneva Conventions.” According to a report from CNN staff member Michael Holmes, two military jeeps pulled up and without warning threw a handful of stun grenades into the media crowd. As the journalists scattered and fled, in five armored vehicles, the soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets at the convoy.

     

    6 April 2002

     

    Israeli occupying forces expelled Jassim al-‘Azzawi, a journalist from Abu Dhabi TV, who holds US citizenship, without allowing him to contact the US embassy in Tel Aviv. Dani Siman, director of the Israeli government press office, accused Abu Dhabi TV of broadcasting “anti-Israeli propaganda.” In a telephone interview with Abu Dhabi TV, Ropiere Minar, director of Reporters Without Borders, stated that Israeli practices against journalists constituted a flagrant violation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, especially Article 19. He believes that such media suppression by Israeli occupying forces in the OPT, is aimed at hiding crimes committed by these forces against Palestinian civilians, especially in Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus and Bethlehem. He called upon the international community to intervene immediately in order to ensure freedom of press in the OPT.

     

    During their incursion into Nablus, Israeli occupying forces raided Tariq al-Mahabba radio station, and detained one of its journalists ‘Alaa’ Badarna inside its offices for one week, without allowing him to obtain food and water. They also raided Aafaq TV and confiscated some of its equipment.

     

    7 April 2002

     

    On 7 April, in the morning, Israeli occupying forces broke into the Institute of Contemporary Media, Jerusalem Educational TV and the campus of College of Medical Professions in al-Bireh, and transformed them into military bases where they interrogated Palestinians.

     

    Israeli occupying forces, which had imposed a siege on Yatta village, near Hebron fired at five journalists who attempted to enter the village approximately 50-60m away, but no casualties were reported. One of these journalists, Hassan Abu ‘Allan, a cameraman for the France Press Agency, said that Israeli forces fired at him and four other reporters from his agency and from a Spanish television channel without warning. The five journalists were wearing bullet proof suits and were clearly marked as journalists.

     

    In the afternoon, Israeli occupying forces beat the following four journalists and obstructed their access to the Palestinian presidential compound in Ramallah:

    1. ‘Ammar ‘Awadh, a cameraman for Reuters news agency;

    2. Tariq al-Kayal, a cameraman for a German television channel;

    3. Ahmed Siam, a reporter for a German television channel; and

    4. Akram al-Qawasmi, a cameraman for a Belgian television channel.

     

    8 April 2002

    In Ramallah, Israeli forces raided the offices of several news organizations, using gunfire and explosives to enter the buildings, according to eyewitnesses. No one was injured. Media affected by the raid were CNN, Abu Dhabi, Nile TV, Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC), and Arab News Network (ANN). Israeli forces interrogated most reporters of these media organizations, especially Palestinian ones. They held 25 reporters in one room, and made them sit on the ground with their hands held over their heads. Israeli soldiers confiscated the mobile phones of these reporters and destroyed their media equipment.

    9 April 2002

    Israeli occupying forces fired at Jack Gilane, a reported for a French television channel, wounding him with a live bullet in the chest, while he was covering an Israeli incursion into ‘Ein Beit al-Maa refugee camp in Nablus.

    In the evening, Israeli occupying forces attacked some journalists who were covering Israeli assaults on Palestinian property in Bethlehem. Two reporters from the al-Jazeera Satellite Channel, Majdi Bannura and Guevara al-Budeiri, were among these journalists.

    10 April 2002

    In the evening, Israeli occupying forces obstructed two Palestinian journalists who were covering Israeli assaults in Nablus. According to Nasser Eshtayeh, a reporter of Associated Press, Israeli soldiers detained him and his colleague Ja’far Eshtayeh, a cameraman of France Press Agency, at the entrance of Salem village, east of Nablus for more than an hour, during which they were beaten and their films were confiscated. He added that Israeli soldiers forced them to take off some of their clothes, which were then checked. Then, Israeli soldiers forced them to leave the area.

    11 April 2002

    In the morning, Israeli occupying forces invaded Kufor Qallil village, south of Nablus. They arrested dozens of Palestinians, including Nawaf Ibrahim al-‘Amer, a reporter for the Palestinian daily al-Quds.

    13 April 2002

    Israeli occupying forces arrested Walid al-‘Emari, a reporter for al-Jazeera Satellite Channel at a military roadblock erected at the entrance of Jenin refugee camp. They confiscated his media equipment before releasing him. Israeli forces also arrested Khaled Zawawi, 28, from Nablus, a reporter for the Palestinian weekly al-Estiqlal, and put him in administrative detention.

    14 April 2002

    Israeli occupation forces chased out local and foreign journalists who attempted to enter Jenin and its refugee camp.  Israeli forces detained them at al-Jalama and Salem roadblocks for two and a half hours.  Then, they forced those journalists to leave the area and threatened to arrest them if they were found again near Jenin.  According to media sources, Israeli forces insulted and intimidated those journalists, especially Patrick Pazz, Chief of the Middle East Bureau of France Press Agency (AFP), ‘Atta ‘Oweisat, a photographer for Gama photo agency, ‘Ammar ‘Awadh, a photographer for Reuters news agency, Rawhi al-Razem, a reporter for APTM press agency, Joram Dilly, a reporter for Associated Press, and the staff of al-Jazeera Satellite Channel and a Spanish television channel.

    16 April 2002

    Israeli occupation forces broke into the Star Hotel near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  They restricted the work of more than 50 journalists who were using the fifth floor of the hotel.  They also warned those journalists against using the hotel for their work as it may “endanger their lives.”  Israeli forces took this measure apparently to prevent media coverage of their attempts to break into the Church of the Nativity. 

    A Swedish TV crew was fired at in their vehicle in Ramallah. One of the crew, Peder Carlqvist, said the shots came as the vehicle was turning round in response to orders from soldiers. Two days before, Israeli forces had said journalists could enter the West Bank again, except for the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Jenin refugee camps and Yasser Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah. 

    At approximately 17:00, Israeli occupation forces broke into the building of the Cairo-Amman Bank in Ramallah.  They raided offices of journalists and media institutions on the fifth and sixth floors of the building.  They detained 11 journalists, including Maher al-Shalabi and Majid Sawalha.  The building includes offices of the television channels of Dubai, Orbit network, Morocco, and Kuwait.  They asked all journalists to leave the building.  Israeli forces searched the offices.  Then, Israeli forces told al-Shalabi and Sawalha that they were wanted and they arrested the two and severely beat them until they were unconscious.  They were taken to an unknown destination.  They were released at approximately 22:00 on foot, which meant their lives were endangered by the presence of Israeli snipers deployed on most buildings in Ramallah.

    The same day, Israeli occupying forces arrested four journalists in Ramallah:

    1. Maher al-Disuqi, 40, for Jerusalem Educational TV;

    2. ‘Abdul Raziq Farraj, 40;

    3. Wissam al-Rafidi, 42; and

    4. Kamal ‘Ali Jubeil, a reporter for the Palestinian daily al-Quds.

    The journalists were interrogated in an Israeli military base near Ramallah before they were released.

    In Nablus, Israeli occupying forces arrested Majed Abu Arab, 40, a reporter for the Palestinian daily al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, and Mohammed Daraghma, an Associated Press reporter. They were handcuffed and blindfolded. They were taken to an Israeli military base near Nablus. Daraghma was released later, but Abu Arab remained in custody for four days.

    Also in Nablus, Israeli soldiers beat ‘Abdul Rahman ‘Omar al-Qussini, a cameraman for Reuters news agency, while he was reporting on the Israeli offensive on the West Bank city. Al-Qussini asserted that Israeli soldiers broke windows of his car, destroyed his camera and beat and insulted him.

    20 April 2002

    Israeli occupation forces arrested Mahmfouzh Abu Turk, 54, a cameraman for Reuters, from Jerusalem.  Abu Turk was on his way back home after he had covered incidents in Jenin.  When he arrived in Ramallah, Israeli forces arrested him.

    21 April 2002

    Israeli occupation forces raided the offices of the local weekly Palestine in Ramallah.  They destroyed the equipment and furniture of the offices. 

     

    22 April 2002

     

    Israeli occupying forces confiscated the press cards of 24 journalists and reporters in Bethlehem working for foreign televisions and press agencies.  An Israeli military jeep stopped the journalists while they were on their way to the Church of the Nativity.  Israeli soldiers took the journalists’ press cards issued by the Israeli governmental press bureau and told them the cards would be brought back to them in their hotel when they come back.   The journalists were covering incidents in Daraj al-Sawaqa area near the Church of the Nativity.  Israeli forces stopped and surrounded them and forced them to hand over their press cards.  They also forced the journalists to go back to the Star Hotel and ordered them not to go out.  Israeli forces also transformed the hotel into a military location. 

     

    On the same day, Israeli occupation forced opened fire at the car of Mohammed Mousa Manasra, 52, a journalist from Bethlehem.  According to Manasra, Israeli soldiers in the market area in the centre of Bethlehem fired at his car, which was clearly marked as a press car.  Manasra was traveling with his family.  The car was hit by several live bullets, but no casualties were reported. 

     

    24 April 2002

     

    Israeli occupying forces arrested Hussam Abu ‘Allan, a photographer for Associated Press, and Mazen Da’na, a cameraman for Reuters news agency at the Beit Anun checkpoint near Hebron. These two, along with other journalists, were going to Bani Naim village to cover the funeral of two Palestinians. Allan was blindfolded and handcuffed and taken to an Israeli tank. Da’na was freed a few hours later, while ‘Allan remained in custody.

    26 April 2002

    At approximately 12:30, Israeli occupying forces raided offices of al-Horeya radio station, al-Mustaqbal Television and al-Nawras Television and destroyed their equipment after they had forced residents of the building to leave. They also arrested the directors of these media institutions: Ayman Na’im al-Qawasmi, Eyad al-Jundi and Hassan al-Ja’bari.

     

     

    30 April 2002

     

    Israeli occupying forces in the West Bank town of Hebron detained Yussry al-Jammal and Reuters cameraman Mazen Da’na when they were filming near the Al-Ahli Hospital when soldiers demanded to see their identification cards and then informed them that they were under arrest. The journalists were blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken to an outdoor holding area, where they spent the night without food or water. Da’na was released the next day, but al-Jammal remains in custody. According to Da’na, an Israeli soldier pointed his gun at them and asked then in which way they would like to die.

     

    On the same day, Israeli occupying forces arrested al-Qawasmi, al-Juneidi and al-Ja’bari, the three journalists who were arrested on the previous day. The three journalists were subjected to interrogation and cruel and degrading treatment in an Israeli detention camp near Ramallah.

     

    3 May 2002

     

    Israeli occupying forces put Nawaf Ibrahim al-‘Aamer, 40, a correspondent for the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, into a 3-month administrative detention. Al-‘Aamer was arrested on 11 April 2002, when Israeli forces invaded Kufor Qallil village, south of Nablus. He was held in an Israeli detention camp near Ramallah.

     

    6 May 2002

     

    The Palestinian News Agency (Wafa) declared that its offices in Bethlehem were subject to complete destruction during an Israeli invasion of the city. Wafa asserted that Israeli occupying forces denied its staff access to its offices, located in a building that was seized and transformed into a military site by Israeli forces.

     

    7 May 2002

     

    Israeli occupying forces at Qalandya military checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem opened fire at a number of local and foreign reporters who were filming the harassment of Palestinian civilians by Israeli soldiers. ‘Ammar ‘Awadh, a photographer for Reuters news agency, was wounded by shrapnel from live bullets in the pelvis and the thigh. In his testimony to the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW) on the incident, Mohammed Sadiq, a photographer for Associated Press, said that Israeli soldiers targeted him and his colleague ‘Awadh, while the two were documenting the detention of a Palestinian girl in an iron room at the checkpoint. Sadiq added that Israeli soldiers fired at them even though it was clear that they were journalists, as they were carrying cameras and wearing their press badges.

     

    12 May 2002

     

    Israeli occupying forces issued a military order preventing journalists who bear Palestinian identity cards from working near Israeli military checkpoints and roadblocks, especially Qalandya and Deir Ebzi’ checkpoints. According to a reporter of the Palestinian News Agency (Wafa), an Israeli officer and two soldiers at Qalandya military checkpoint, north of Jerusalem, informed him and a number of local journalists that, according to the military order, they were prevented from working near military checkpoints and that movement from a city to another requires obtaining permission from the Israeli civil administration in “Beit Eil.” This measure was one in a series of measures taken by Israeli occupying forces to silence the press and restrict the work of journalists.

     

    15 May 2002

     

    For the third time in one month, Israeli occupying forces put Ayman al-Qawasmi, director of al-Horreya radio station, into administrative detention for 3 months. Al-Qawasmi had been detained in an Israeli detention camp near Ramallah since 29 March 2002.

     

    20 May 2002

     

    Israeli occupying soldiers beat ‘Abdul Salam Abu Nada, correspondent for the Arab News Network (ANN) near his house in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. The incident took place when Abu Nada returned to his house after he had reporting on Israeli practices in the Gaza Strip. An Israeli armored personnel carrier chased him. Israeli soldiers asked him for his press card and he handed it over. Nevertheless, they forced him and his family out of his house. Then, they forced him to stand before a wall for approximately half an hour, during which they beat him. They also threatened to kill him in front of his wife and son. In his testimony to PCHR, Abu Nada said:

     

    “At approximately 16:00, I was driving my car, which has a press badge on it, towards my house in Beit Lahia near ‘Elli Sinai’ settlement in the northern Gaza Strip. I was careful to arrive at home before 17:00, the time when Israeli occupying forces impose a curfew on the area everyday. Usually, an Israeli tank takes position on a road adjacent to my house. As soon as Israeli soldiers saw my car, the tank moved quickly towards me. When I arrived at home, I heard the sound of the tank near the house. I heard Israeli soldiers shouting at me to get out of the house and the whole area, and I did. A soldier asked me about my job and I answered that I am a journalist at ANN and I showed him my press card. The soldier ordered me to leave the area. I got on my car and traveled. The tank was traveling behind my car. When I got away from the house, Israeli soldiers ordered me to stop the car and get out of it, and I did. When I got out of the car, a soldier beat me in the side, so I got into my car and left the area.”

     

    22 May 2002

     

    Israeli occupying forces at Abu Houli military checkpoint on Salah al-Din Street, the main road between the north and south of the Gaza Strip, arrested Suhaib Jadallah Salem, a photographer for the local Al-Quds daily and Reuters news agency, and the driver accompanying him. Salam was on his way to the Rafah border crossing to travel to Korea and Japan to cover the football world cup. Salem was the first Palestinian journalist to obtain the award of the Dutch World Press Photo last year, an award that is given for the best press photo. Salem was released on 27 May 2002.

     

    31 May 2002

     

    Israeli occupying forces arrested Dr. ‘Abdul Karim Sarhan, director of the Palestinian News Agency (Wafa), and Mashhur Abu ‘Eid, a correspondent for the official Jordanian news agency, Petra, during an Israeli incursion into Nablus. Abu ‘Eid asserted that he was so shocked by the destruction and killing he heard about that he decided to go to Nablus and Jenin to see the situation on the ground. Abu Eid was arrested along with seven peace activists in the Palestinian refugee camp of Balata, near Nablus. The city had been declared a closed military area at the time of the Israeli incursion. Abu ‘Eid first went to Nablus and to Jenin on 30 May, and then went to the Balata camp. He wanted to film a gathering of Western peace activists who had come to inquire into the human rights situation in the Palestinian refugee camps. He was expelled together with seven peace activists. Israeli occupying forces claimed that he violated a military order that declared Nablus a closed military zone.

     

    4 June 2002

     

    A vehicle of Reuters news agency came under Israeli gunfire in ‘Askar refugee camp in Nablus. The vehicle was damaged, but no casualties were reported. A Reuters reporter, ‘Alaa’ Badarna, stated:

     

    “We were reporting on the Israeli incursion into Nablus and ‘Askar refugee camp. When we were close to an Israeli tank and an armored personnel carrier positioned near al-Rawdha College, we traveled slowly and pointed to the Israeli soldiers that we were journalists and we were going to the opposite road. However, they shot at us. A live bullet hit the window near the driver and another bullet hit a tire damaging it.” Badarna confirmed that their car had a press badge on it.

     

    9 June 2002

     

    Israeli occupying forces surrounded offices of the local al-Hayat al-Jadeeda daily in al-Bireh, and held more than 60 of its staff for several days without food.

     

    10 June 2002

     

    Reuters news agency asserted that Israeli occupying forces seized its offices in Ramallah when they seized control over the town.

     

    Early in the morning, Israeli occupying forces also surrounded the building of the Union of Agricultural Relief Committees.  They seized offices of five television channels and news agencies in the building: Watan Television, Yemen Satellite Channel, Abu Dhabi Satellite Channel, Reuters news agency and ABC News.  Israeli forces used the building as a camp, where they held and interrogated Palestinians. 

    Late at night, Israeli occupying forces burst into the City Inn Hotel, where most journalists, working in the Ramallah-al Bireh area, stay.  According to the journalists present, Israeli forces broke into the hotel and searched their rooms and press equipment.  They also checked their press and identity cards.

    Israeli occupying forces attacked Nasser al-Shioukhi, a photographer for Reuters news agency, while he was filming arrests of Palestinians by Israeli forces in Hebron. They also confiscated his cameras.

    22 June 2002

    Israeli occupying forces seized control of Ramallah. They imposed a curfew on the town. Consequently, the local al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadeeda daily were not issued.

    27 June 2002

    Israeli occupying forces declared six West Bank town closed military zones and denied the access of journalists to these towns.

     

    28 June 2002

    Israeli occupying forces lifted the ban on journalists going to six West Bank Palestinian towns. But this did not apply to Israeli and Palestinian journalists.

    PCHR’s Notes

     

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

    2. The period under study witnessed a qualitative escalation in the Israeli practices against journalists. Israeli occupying forces fired, arrested and beat journalists, attacked media centers and institutions, and confiscated press equipment, which raised suspicions that there was an Israeli political decision to restrict the freedom of press. Recently there have been increasingly open and clear Israeli political and military decisions that close towns in the face of journalists.

    3. Most attacks by the Israeli forces against the local and international press agencies were willful and intentional, especially since members of the press wear clearly marked attire. The attacks are designed to prevent the objective coverage of incidents in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

    4. These attacks are part of a systematic Israeli policy of isolating the Occupied Palestinian Territories so as to allow further abuses against Palestinian civilians.

    5. 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 the Palestinian people.

    6. PCHR calls on all international media to intervene and to exert pressure on Israel to stop its occupying forces’ attacks on journalists and to provide the proper climate for practice of the profession without restriction.