Statement by the Foreign Press Association regarding IDF action towards AP photographer
July 4, 2021
The Foreign Press Association (FPA) is extremely concerned by an incident involving an Associated Press (AP) photographer in the West Bank on Sunday 27th June, 2021.
According to the AP, photographer Majdi Mohammed was held by Israeli soldiers against his will for about an hour during a protest near the Palestinian village of Beita. The AP says he was at risk of serious bodily harm during the detention because stones were falling all around him throughout his detention. Majdi Mohammed himself said he felt he was being used as a human shield.
The FPA notes there has been a response from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in which the IDF asserts that before detaining him soldiers asked Majdi Mohammed to move because he was interfering with their use of heavy machinery. The FPA also notes an IDF admission that the photographer should not have been asked to refrain from taking photos of soldiers.
Even so, this remains a very troubling incident of a photographer being prevented from doing his job and being improperly detained in a dangerous place. Photojournalism can involve personal risk, but this does not permit the holding of somebody against their will in a place where they could be hit by rocks.
The FPA reminds the IDF that the greatest test of demonstrating respect for press freedom lies in its actions in the field and urges it to ensure that all serving personnel are instructed to treat members of the press in a professional manner.
Statement by the Foreign Press Association regarding violence towards Al Jazeera journalists
June 6, 2021
On Saturday, June 5, Israeli police forcefully grabbed an Al Jazeera correspondent covering a protest in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and detained her for 4 hours before finally releasing her. According to Al Jazeera, she was then taken to Hadassah hospital to be treated for a broken hand and bruises to her body caused by police. Her cameraman was also beaten and his camera heavily damaged.
According to accounts from colleagues at the scene as well as videos captured by bystanders, she was arrested without provocation. The reporter was clearly identified as a journalist and wore protective equipment, including a vest that said “press,” and police refused to allow her to return to her car to show them her Israeli-issued press card.
This is the latest in a long line of heavy-handed tactics by Israeli police in recent weeks against clearly identified journalists – including the use of stun grenades, tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets and the spraying of skunk water.
Unfortunately, our previous letter to police on May 26 asking them to show restraint and respect for the media was ignored.
We call on police to punish the officers who needlessly injured an experienced journalist and broke professional equipment. And once again, we urge police to uphold Israel’s pledges to respect freedom of the press and to allow journalists to do their jobs freely and without fear of injury and intimidation.
May 25, 2021
To Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai/Doron Turjeman:
As chairman of the Foreign Press Association, I would like to express my deepest concerns about the conduct of Jerusalem police during the recent unrest in east Jerusalem and in the Al Aqsa/Temple Mount compound.
Our organization represents some 400 journalists – foreign, Israeli and Palestinian – who work for major international news organizations around the world. They are experienced and respectful of the challenges that police face in maintaining law and order in this complicated city.
Even so, we received numerous reports of journalists being hit by stun grenades, water cannons and tear gas during the unrest. While some of these instances may have been luck, we are confident that in several cases at least, journalists were intentionally attacked by security forces. (We have attached some videos of journalists being beaten by police.)
We respectfully urge you to take proper disciplinary action over any misconduct within your ranks. We also urge you to remind police that a free press is a foundation of democracy, and that officers should be doing everything in their power to protect journalists and allow them to do their essential work.
As always, we would be happy to set up a meeting to further discuss our concerns and ensure that these types of incidents do not occur in the future.
Statement by the Foreign Press Association regarding the IDF strike on a Gaza building containing international
news media bureaus
15th May 2021
The Foreign Press Association (FPA) expresses its grave concern and dismay at a decision by the Israel Defense Forces to target a building housing the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.
Knowingly causing the destruction of the offices of some of the world’s largest and most influential news organizations raises deeply worrying questions about Israel’s willingness to interfere with the freedom of the press to operate.
The safety of other news bureaus in Gaza is now in question. At a time when Israel’s border crossing with Gaza is closed, those companies with a bureau in Gaza are more important than ever in reporting events to the world.
We note that Israel has not presented any evidence to support its claim the building was used by Hamas. We further note that at no point did Israel AP the very real prospect that its Gaza operation could one day become an Israeli military target.
We call on parties on both sides of the conflict to re-state their commitment to ensuring that foreign news bureaus and operations be allowed to go about their work without being targeted, compromised, or endangered.
We further call on Israel to open the crossing into Gaza at the earliest opportunity to allow the foreign press to do its work and to support our colleagues at the AP and Al Jazeera in particular.
We request an urgent meeting with Israeli officials to discuss this incident, as well as other concerns arising from recent
communications between foreign media and the Israeli military.
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