The Foreign Press Association is deeply disturbed by the Israeli prime minister’s decision to bar the bureau chief of Al-Jazeera from participating in a panel at the Government Press Office, overriding an invitation issued by the GPO director himself. Ironically, the panel was titled: “The limits of freedom of expression.”
This decision, along with the prime minister’s declared intention of shutting the station and stripping its journalists of press cards, raises serious questions about the government’s commitment to freedom of the press.
It also appears to be part of a disturbing and growing trend of incitement against the media by the prime minister.
Stifling critics and shutting down stations are actions associated with dictatorships, not a democracy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loves to boast that Israel is the Middle East’s only democracy. We urge the government to uphold the ideals that he so proudly embraces.
The Board of the Foreign Press Association September 7, 2017
The FPA wishes to strongly protest the deplorable situation created by Israeli security authorities at a major news site in Jerusalem during the course of this weekend where government-issued press cards were not being recognized. While tourists were given access to the Old City, journalists were held for questioning and relegated to distant positions totally useless for reporting or taking relevant photos.
The result of this was that accredited journalists had no access to a major news site, while anyone with a smartphone was able to photograph and upload to social media anything they see.
This is a dangerous situation as many of these tourists lack the breadth or depth of knowledge that accredited journalists have and it would seem to the benefit of all to allow in professionals -- who also undergo strict editing -- to cover a news event.
Not only have journalists been banned access, they have been pushed and shoved into areas where their safety is at risk, and where they bear the brunt of the Israeli security response to rioting crowds including teargas, stun grenades and beatings resulting in several serious injuries.
While security issues may be understandable in volatile, high risk situations, it is unclear how these areas are TODAY open to tourists while accredited journalists and photojournalists are deliberately being kept out. This appears to be a kind of innovative censorship that is surprising in a country that prides itself on press freedom.
WE EXPECT TO SEE THIS INTOLERABLE AND UNACCEPTABLE SITUATION RECTIFIED IMMEDIATELY.
23 July 2017
On May 18, an Associated Press photographer was shot and seriously wounded by an Israeli settler while covering a disturbance at Hawara in the West Bank.
While the settler has claimed that he opened fire in self-defense, eyewitness accounts and video evidence from the scene suggest otherwise. Video clips show him firing his gun after troops had arrived and cleared away the protesters. They also indicate that he aimed at people far away from his vehicle. The photographer was clearly identified as a journalist, with a protective helmet and vest with the word ‘Press’ in large letters.
Police have said the incident is still being investigated, but already troubling signs have emerged. Instead of any punitive measure being taken, the settler has reportedly received his handgun back, and Israel’s deputy defense minister has praised him for shooting a “terrorist who threatened his life.” Meanwhile, there has been no effort by Israeli police to speak to the photographer.
This case offers an important test of Israel’s commitment to protecting all civilians and ensuring freedom of the press. We call on the Israeli police and all other relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and timely investigation into the actions of the shooter and to take legal action against him if any wrongdoing is found. The Board of the Foreign Press Association June 7, 2017
The Foreign Press Association condemns in the strongest terms the unwarranted, aggressive behaviour of the Israeli police and border police in trying to prevent international photographers and cameramen from covering a demonstration near Damascus Gate on Saturday April 28th.
Police kicked and shoved journalists and in one case used a weapon to jab a Reuters photographer's hand, causing injuries that required hospital treatment. The border police also used horses to charge photographers and cameraman without warning, leading to injuries to an AFP photographer as he fled the scene. The AFP photographer also had several pieces of expensive equipment broken. The FPA has time and again raised its concerns about the aggressive behaviour of the Israeli border police. It is time the Ministry for Internal Security took action to rein in the force and establish much stricter guidelines to ensure serious injuries, and potentially worse outcomes, are avoided. The Board of The Foreign Press Association, April 30, 2017
On Thursday evening January 12, 2017 an Associated Press reporter covering a demonstration in the northern Gaza Strip was detained by plainclothes Hamas security men and forced at gunpoint to turn over his mobile phones to them. The men stuck a pistol in his chest and verbally threatened the reporter until he agreed to give them the phones.
In addition an AFP photographer was badly beaten to the head by uniformed policemen required medical care after he had refused to give up his camera. The memory card of his camera was confiscated and he was placed under arrest. He was subsequently released and the memory card was returned.
The Foreign Press Association condemns this violent behaviour in the strongest terms, and finds it especially shocking in light of verbal promises we have received from Hamas officials to respect the freedom of the press.
We hope that Hamas will properly investigate this incident and provide an explanation and apology for this unacceptable behaviour by their forces.
The Board of The Foreign Press Association January 12, 2017