On Saturday March 30th , Israeli forces threw stun grenades at photographers and cameramen covering unrest at the Qalandia checkpoint outside Jerusalem. The journalists were working for a number of major international news organizations, including The Associated Press, Reuters, AFP and Xinhua, and were hundreds of meters away from clashes with Palestinian protesters had taken place. This was the latest in a string of similar attacks on journalists in recent weeks.
Given the distance of these attacks from the broader clashes, this incident raises troubling questions over whether Israeli forces are intentionally targeting journalists -- a practice that is usually associated with some of the neighboring countries in the region. We condemn this behavior in the strongest terms and renew our calls to the Israeli border police and other forces to do their utmost to guarantee the safety of journalists. We also hope that the border police will follow up on previous pledges to work with the international media to avoid similar violence in the future. Video:
On Saturday, an AP photographer covering disturbances in the West Bank village of Yatta was detained by Israeli forces and forced to sit, with his hands bound behind his back, for five hours before he was released without charge. The photographer says that at no time did soldiers tell him or provide documentation saying the area had been declared a closed military zone. In addition, he says that throughout the incident he followed soldiers’ orders as to where to stand. During his detention, he was not given food or water, and soldiers refused a request to get up to relieve himself.
This is the latest in a string of incidents involving heavy-handed tactics against journalists who were merely trying to do their jobs. The FPA condemns this violence and once against calls on the army to thoroughly investigate this incident.
It also would like to remind the army and military police that the record on investigating these incidents has been dismal. The FPA has demanded investigations into some ten incidents in which journalists appear to have been abused by Israeli security forces in the course over 2012 and 2013. As far as we know, just two investigations have been launched, and the others remain open.
As the Turkel Commission noted last week, the military’s investigative processes suffer from “structural problems.” Properly investigating violence against the media and holding soldiers accountable for their actions would be a good way to begin rectifying these problems.
The Foreign Press Association February 10, 2013
Israeli border police forces verbally and physically assaulted an unarmed, female AP TV producer during last weekend's protests in the West Bank village of Burin, pushing her onto a pile of rocks and insulting her. When colleagues tried to help her off the ground, forces prevented them from reaching her and then blocked them from taking her to an ambulance. It is important to note that the incident occurred before the military declared the area a closed zone. While the producer did not suffer any broken bones, she is in great pain and has been unable to work since the incident.
Also in Burin, an officer threatened AFP photographer Jaafar Ashtiye as he documented the events, warning him he would be arrested at his home, in front of his children, during the night if he did not stop taking pictures. A military spokesman has agreed that the soldier's remarks were inappropriate and promised the incident would be investigated, but AFP has heard nothing further on this.
The FPA condemns the security force's behavior in both incidents the strongest terms and urges prompt investigations.
It should be noted that both the military and the military police have poor records when it comes to investigating such incidents.
In the past year alone, Israeli authorities have promised to investigate at least five FPA complaints of inappropriate violence against journalists, some of which were captured on film. As far as we know, all of these investigations remain open, and authorities have never provided any update on the status of any of them.
This lack of transparency questions about the military authority’s stated commitment to protecting freedom of the press. With this in mind, we appeal to the Military Advocate General and the Justice Ministry’s internal police investigation unit to take over the investigations, promptly complete them and take all appropriate disciplinary action.
In order to assist the government with this task, we are attaching three photos of the incident involving the AP producer, as well as a fourth picture of the same border policeman spraying pepper spray on protesters. We have also attached two videos: The first shows parts of the incident in which the producer was beaten. The second shows whom we believe to be the same border policeman hitting a protester with his rifle.
We hope that the relevant authorities will consider our request and take incidents like these more seriously than the security forces. http://www.raya.ps/ar/raya-tube/817407-.html http://www.raya.ps/ar/raya-tube/817406-.html The Foreign Press Association February 6th, 2013
In what seems to be becoming a regular pattern, Israeli security forces have again assaulted FPA journalists covering unrest in the West Bank.
On Saturday, border police tossed stun grenades toward photographers from the AP, Reuters, SIPA and other agencies who were covering a demonstration at the Hizme checkpoint near Jerusalem. The journalists say the grenades were tossed multiple times, and in at least one instance, landed on the feet of a photographer.
There is strong evidence the photographers were deliberately targeted. They were not participating in the protest, and had moved to the side of the road, away from demonstrators, at the instruction of the border police before they were attacked. When the journalists attempted to complain, the border police commander at the scene refused to speak to them.
We condemn this unprofessional conduct in the strongest terms, and call for a thorough investigation. After receiving promises days ago from both the border police and the IDF for better working relations, we have yet to see a real investigation with real results. All the incidents below remain open for 2012 and 2013. The Foreign Press Association March 11th 2013
The Foreign Press Association begins 2013 as it ended 2012, dealing with the brutality of Israeli security services who consistently assault legitimate journalists who are members of our organisation as they try to cover media worthy events, this time in the E1 area.
The Foreign Press Association is growing increasingly frustrated as its journalists are consistently unable to cover media events. Complaints are ignored, promised investigations are not completed in a reasonable period of time, or they are never completed at all.
Yesterday, photographers posing no threat to soldiers or activists were assaulted by security officials, their equipment damaged and causing them bodily harm. Earlier this week, journalists were obstructed in doing their job by security officials flashing spotlights into the cameras. And in a final step that appears to be further aimed at discouraging media coverage, all the press cars at the E1 site yesterday were issued parking tickets, despite one of them being told where to park by the officials themselves.
This continued situation raises some serious questions regarding freedom of access and Israel's adherence to freedom of the press. The FPA calls on Israeli authorities to take the appropriate steps against those who continue to obstruct the press, to issue appropriate rules and regulations and properly brief security men and women before they are sent out to deal with events that will be covered by media. The Board of the Foreign Press Association, 16th January 2013