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Silencing the Press

 

February 21, 2001 – April 29, 2001

 

 “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 documents Israeli abuses against journalists of local and international press agencies during the period of February 21 – April 29, 2001.  This is the third report in a continuing series on Israeli attacks on the local and international press.  The first report covered Israeli abuses against journalists during the period of September 29 – November 20, 2000.  In the first report, PCHR documented 53 attacks on local and international journalists.  They included the shooting of journalists, the beating and humiliation of journalists, the prevention of journalists from entering particular areas, the destruction of media equipment, and the shelling of media centers and institutions.  The second report covered Israeli abuses against journalists during the period of November 21, 2000 – February 20, 2001, during which PCHR documented 25 attacks.

 During the period covered by the current report, February 21 – April 29, 2001, Israeli forces continued the practice of silencing the press by preventing members of the media from carrying out their duties.  Israeli forces opened fire on journalists, damaging their equipment, despite the fact that they wore attire that clearly identified them as media personnel.  Israeli forces also denied journalists entry into particular areas in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, preventing them from covering certain incidents.  Such an escalation coincided with the election of the extremist leader of the Likud Party as Prime Minister in Israel.  Since then, the Occupied Palestinian Territories have witnessed an unprecedented escalation in killings and attacks perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces and Jewish settlers against Palestinian civilians and their property. 

 Journalists and reporters of local and international press agencies have not been immune to Israeli abuses. The period under study witnessed 33 incidents in which Israeli forces fired at, beat and humiliated ,and arrested and interrogated journalists.  Military orders were issued by the Israeli occupation forces, preventing the entry of journalists into certain areas of conflict.  In 10 incidents, journalists were wounded with bullets fired by the Israeli occupation forces.  In 16 incidents, journalists were fired at, but were not hurt.  In two incidents, journalists were beaten and humiliated, and in five other incidents, journalists were detained and interrogated.  On April 1, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces issued a military order declaring the Old City of Hebron a military area closed to journalists.  Thus, the total number of attacks by the Israeli occupation forces against press has increased to 111 since the outbreak of Al-Aqsa Intifada on September 29, 2000.

 These attacks by Israeli forces violate all relevant covenants and conventions, especially Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.  It asserts the right to freedom of opinion and the right to receive and impart information through any media regardless of frontiers.  The forces are also in blatant violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, which states in its Article 19 that “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, or through any other media of his choice.”  Article 79 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (Protocol 1) offers guarantees when it states that “journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians” and provides that “they shall be protected as such under the Conventions and this protocol, provided that they take no action adversely affecting their status as civilians.”

 PCHR condemns Israeli forces’ practices against local and international journalists and reporters.  According to evidence and documentation gathered by PCHR, these attacks on journalists were willful and intentional.

 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 of November 21, 2000 – February 20, 2001:

  

The full report is available PDF format.