Silencing the Press

 

A Report on Israeli Attacks against Journalists

April 30, 2001 – June 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 April 30 – June 29, 2001.  This is the fourth report in a continuing series about Israeli attacks on the local and international press.  From September 29, 2000 to April 29, 2001, PCHR documented 110 attacks on local and international journalists.  They included 39 cases of shooting at journalists and causing injury, 21 cases of shooting at journalists without causing injury, 21 cases of beating and humiliating journalists, 11 cases of arrest and interrogation, 10 cases of destruction of media equipment, and 8 cases of shelling of media centers and institutions.

 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 as part of an Israeli policy that aims to hide crimes committed by the Israeli occupation forces against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  PCHR warns the international community against continuing the conspiracy of silence and calls upon it to immediately intervene to put an end to war crimes committed by the Israeli occupation forces against Palestinian civilians.

 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:

 

      May 7, 2001

 At approximately 10:30 local time, Israeli occupation forces, positioned at a military roadblock at the northern entrance to Jenin, detained Ahmed Hussein El-Khaldi and Seif El-Din Shawqi El-Dahla, respectively correspondent and cameraman for the Palestinian Press Agency (Wafa).   The two journalists were reporting on the practices employed by Israeli occupation forces to obstruct the passage of Palestinian cars.  Israeli soldiers forced the two journalists to stand for approximately three hours near a tank positioned in the area.  They also intended to confiscate their press equipment.  After the Palestinian liaison forces intervened, the two journalists were released.

 

      May 11, 2001

 At approximately 13:00 local time, ‘Abdel-Rahim ‘Omar Mohammed El-Qousini, cameraman of Reuters press agency, was wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the right leg and suffered from tear gas inhalation.  The incident took place while El-Qousini was taking photos of a peaceful march organized by Palestinian civilians from Deir Estia village in Salfit and by dozens of Israeli peace activists.  They were protesting the confiscation of land in the village by the Israeli occupation forces.  According to investigations by the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW) in Ramallah, the Israeli occupation forces fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas at demonstrators.  El-Qousini was wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the right leg.  When he fell onto the ground, a tear gas canister fell near his feet.  Residents of the village moved El-Qousini 6km away from the area of clashes, and an ambulance evacuated him to hospital.

 

     May 15, 2001 

 Israeli occupation soldiers fired at a number of journalists while they were covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces at the northern entrance to Al-Bireh on the 53rd anniversary of Al-Nakba (the day on which Palestinians commemorate their dispersion by Israel in 1948).  Firas Tannina, correspondent of Al-Ayyam daily local newspaper, was wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the leg.  Mahmoud Kahllouf, correspondent of the Palestinian Press Agency (Wafa), was wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the thigh and suffered from tear gas inhalation.  Fathi El-Marbou’, cameraman of the Palestinian satellite channel, suffered from tear gas inhalation.  Mohammed Sdiq, a freelance cameraman, was wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the right leg.  Yachtohamme Eiga, a French journalist, was wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the right leg.  Finally, Bertrand Aguirre, French correspondent for TF1, was wounded by a live bullet in the chest.  In photos taken by a cameraman of a foreign press agency, an Israeli soldier appeared to be targeting a number of Palestinian demonstrators behind whom Aguirre stood.  Aguire stated to France Press Agency that he was interrogated by the Israeli occupation forces on May 17, 2001.

 

     May 22, 2001

 At approximately 13:00 local time, Israeli occupation forces, positioned at Al-Shuhada’ junction, south of Gaza City, fired at ‘Abdel-Rahman El-Khatib, photographer of Al-Ayyam daily local newspaper, and at Scott Nilson, American cameraman of the France Press Agency.  Fortunately, they were not injured.  The two journalists were taking photos of the closure of the junction by the Israeli occupation forces.  The Israeli forces claimed that the closure was intended to assure the safe passage of a convoy of settlers.  In his testimony to PCHR, El-Khatib said:

 

“On Tuesday, May 22, 2001, at approximately 13:00 local time, journalist Scott Nilson and I were traveling from the southern area of the Gaza Strip to Gaza City.  When we arrived at Al-Shuhada’ junction, we noticed that movement of Palestinian cars was stopped and that a tank of the Israeli occupation forces was positioned at the junction to facilitate the passage of a convoy of settlers.  We got out of our car, carrying our press equipment.  We stood near a Palestinian civilian car that stopped approximately 500m away from the junction.  Soon, we saw another tank coming from the road leading to Al-Mentar (Karni) Outlet and heading towards the junction.  When it arrived at the junction, it fired heavy caliber bullets at Palestinian cars.  We were forced to leave the area without being able to cover what happened.  No injuries were reported.”

 

     May 23, 2001

 In the afternoon, the Israeli occupation forces arrested Khaled Yassin Farraj, head of the distribution department at Al-Ayyam daily local newspaper, at a military roadblock near Sarda village, north of Ramallah.  Farraj was severely beaten by Israeli soldiers before he was arrested.

 

     June 2, 2001

 For days, the Israeli occupation forces had denied access of Fahmi Shahin, from Hebron, coordinator of the field work and documentation unit at the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (Law), to his work in Ramallah.  In a press release it issued on June 3, 2001, LAW asserted that Shahin had tried four times to travel to his work through bypass roads, but he failed as he was faced by many Israeli roadblocks.  In his fifth attempt, Shahin was able to reach Ramallah after a very hard trip, during which Israeli soldiers fired at him.  Fortunately, he was not injured.

 

       June 4, 2001

 At approximately 17:00 local time, Israeli occupation soldiers, positioned at a military roadblock at Beit Fourik junction, east of Nablus, attacked Nasser Suleiman Mohammed Eshtayeh, 31, from Salem village in Nablus, photographer of Associated Press, ‘Abdel-Rahman El-Qousini, 34, from Nablus, photographer of Reuters Press Agency, and Ja’far Eshtayeh, 30, from Salem village in Nablus, photographer of France Press Agency.  According to Nasser Eshtayeh, they went to a military roadblock of the Israeli occupation forces at Beit Fourik junction after they found out that Israeli soldiers were obstructing the passage of Palestinian civilians.  As soon as the three journalists arrived there, Israeli soldiers ordered them to move forward.  Then, an Israeli soldier kicked the front of the car nervously.  When his officer identified the three journalists, he took the gun of the soldier and told them that this soldier was nervous after his girlfriend was killed in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on June 1, 2001.  The officer also ordered them to leave the area instantly to avoid being attacked by this soldier. 

 

       June 5, 2001

 At approximately 06:30 local time, Israeli occupation soldiers, positioned at a military roadblock southeast of Nablus, stopped a number of Palestinian civilians and denied them access to their workplaces.  Among the civilians was Samih Muhsen, coordinator of the media and publication unit and editor-in-chief of People’s Rights of the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment.  Muhsen asserted that Israeli soldiers forced them to leave their cars and walk.  The soldiers checked their cars and their bags before allowing them to pass.

 

        June 9, 2001

 At approximately 10:30 local time, a peaceful Palestinian march, composed mostly of Beir Zeit University students, arrived at an Israeli roadblock at Ramallah–Bir Zeit road.  Israeli forces fired at demonstrators, wounding some, including Firas Tannina, correspondent of Al-Ayyam daily local newspaper.  He was wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the chest.

 

     June 15, 2001

 The Israeli occupation forces fired at Shirfi Yoto Kathamatu, 43, a Japanese journalist, wounding him with a live bullet in the right hand.  According to eyewitnesses, Kathamatu was wearing a press jacket, and the Israeli forces fired at him from a distance of approximately 100m.  Kathamatu was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces at the northern entrance of Al-Bireh.

 

      June 22, 2001

 At approximately 07:30 local time, settlers blocked Jerusalem-Bethlehem road and attacked Palestinian civilians.  They also attacked two journalists, Mazen Da’na, 35, and Na’el Shioukhi, 28, both from Hebron, who work with Reuters Press Agency.  They also destroyed their press equipment.  The incident took place when the two journalists were covering attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians.

 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.  PCHR asserts the following:

 

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

2.                     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.

3.                     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.  

 

 

 

The following table shows attacks by the Israeli forces on local and international  journalists during

 the period of April 30 – June 29, 2001:

 

Nature of the Attack

Date

Journalist

Press Agency

Place of the Wound

Means of the Attack

Shooting that caused injury

May 11, 2001

‘Abdel-Rahman ‘Omar El-Qousini

A cameraman of Reuters

The right leg and the repiratory system

A rubber-coated metal bullet and tear gas

 

May 15, 2001

       1)         Firas Tannina

 

       2)         Mahmoud Khallouf

 

 

       3)         Fathi El-Marbou’

 

 

       4)         Mohammed Sdiq

       5)         Bertrand Aguirre

       6)         Yachtohamme Eiga

A correspondent of Al-Ayyam

A correspondent of Wafa

 

 

A cameraman of the Palestinian satellite channel

 

A freelance cameraman

Correspondent of  TF1

A French journalist

The leg

 

The right leg and the respiratory system

The respiratory system

 

The right leg

The chest

The right leg

A rubber-coated metal bullet

 

A rubber-coated metal bullet and tear gas

 

A tear gas canister

 

 

A rubber-coated metal bullet

A live bullet

A rubber-coated metal bullet

June 7, 2001

       1)         Mahmoud Khallouf

 

       2)         Mohammed Sadiq

 

       3)         Rebhi El-Kobari

A correspondent of Wafa

 

A freelance cameraman

 

Al-Sharq Television Channel

The respiratory system

The respiratory system

The right leg and the left shoulder

Tear gas

 

Tear gas

 

Four rubber-coated metal bullets

June 9, 2001

Firas Tannina

A correspondent of Al-Ayyam

The chest

A rubber-coated metal bullet

June 15, 2001

Shirfi Yoto Kathamatu

A Japanese journalist

The right hand

A live bullet

Total

 

12

 

 

 

Shooting that caused no injuries

May 22, 2001

1)                     ‘Abdel-Rahman El-Kahatib

2)                     Scott Nilson

A photographer of Al-Ayyam

A cameraman of France Press Agency

 

An artillery shell

 

A artillery shell

Total

 

2

 

 

 

Beating and humiliation

June 4, 2001

       1)         Nasser Suleiman Eshtayeh

       2)         ‘Abdel-Rahman El-Qousini

       3)         Ja’far Eshtayeh

A photographer of Associated Paress

A cameraman of Reuters

 

A photographer of France Press Agency

 

Insults 

 

Insults

 

Insults

June 22, 2001

1)                     Mazen Da’na

2)                     Na’el Shioukhi

A cameraman of Reuters

A cameraman of Reuters

Bruises in the face

Bruises in the face

Hands and feet

Hands and feet

Total

 

5

 

 

 

Detention, interrogation of journalists

May 7, 2001

1)                     Khaled Ahmed El-kahaldi

2)                     Seif El-Din El-Dahla

A correspondent of Wafa

 

A photographer of Wafa

 

 

May 23, 2001

Khaled Yassin Farraj

Head of the districution department at Al-Ayyam

 

 

June 2, 2001

Fhmi Shahin

Coordianator of field work and documentation at the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW) – Ramallah

 

 

June 5, 2001

Samih Muhsen

Coordianator of media and publication at the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW) – Ramallah

 

 

Total

 

5