The Foreign Press Association strongly condemns the recent days' assaults on journalists by Jewish and Palestinian mobs.
On Oct. 14, four photographers working for international news services were beaten and threatened by Palestinians in Bethlehem while covering the funeral of Mohammed Abayat. A Reuters photographer was treated in hospital and lost a week of work because of his injuries. Camera lenses were broken beyond repair and digital disks were confiscated.
On Oct. 17, journalists trying to cover the standoff at the Havat Gilad illegal outpost were harassed and pushed around by Jewish settlers. In some cases stones were thrown at reporters, the car of a Sipa photographer was very severely damaged and the photographer herself was threatened.
We call on the authorities on both sides to safeguard journalists and ensure the freedom of access and coverage of events. The fact that these abuses were carried out by unofficial personnel does not absolve the authorities of responsibility. Tolerating such gross misbehavior -- if only through inaction -- will surely cause its perpetuation.
The Board of the FPA
20 October, 2002
The Foreign Press Association expresses deep concern over a statement by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in Gaza, banning the photographing of Palestinian children carrying weapons or dressed in
military-style uniforms and threatening action against journalists, local and foreign, who disregard the ban. While we share the expressed desire to defend the rights of children, limiting coverage of legitimate news events and elements of stories is not the proper way to achieve this goal. We note the call by the PJS to groups not to use children in their operations, but we reject the threat of sanctions against Palestinian journalists working for foreign
media. The PJS has the right to define its role any way it finds appropriate, but it should be clear that foreign news media do not consider it their role either to protect or to defame this or that regime. Instead, it is the job of the foreign media to report the news. The Foreign Press Association calls on the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate to withdraw its statement.
The FPA Board
27 August 2002.
The FPA strongly protests Israel's prevention of media coverage of Operation Determined Path.
Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarem, Bethlehem, and -- as of today -- Qalqiliya are closed military zones. The combination of the closed military zones -- which keep foreign journalists out -- and curfews imposed inside the cities -- which restrict local journalists to their homes -- makes it impossible to cover this important story. It means the
media cannot verify reports coming out of these areas, and this can only help the spread of rumor and confusion.
Imposing an indefinite coverage blackout on five urban areas where hundreds of thousands of people live is a flagrant violation of the freedom of the press, which Israel is committed to uphold.
We recognize the complexity of the situation and the dangers that could arise in the course of coverage, but journalists must be allowed to make their own judgments.
The Board of the Foreign Press Association
June 23, 2002
The FPA protests the IDF’s decision to declare Ramallah a closed military zone during its raid Monday. This measure – a repetition of Israel’s closure policy during Operation Defensive Shield – is a violation of basic press freedoms that makes it impossible to verify rumors. While we welcome the efforts to set up a pool, such army-regulated access cannot come in place of unimpeded reporting of an important story in a heavily populated area.
We also view with alarm the military’s takeover of the Reuters office in Ramallah. According to the agency, Israeli soldiers set up a base on the premises and barred entry to other journalists. This is the second time the army has occupied the Reuters office in recent months – a sign that it considers such measures are acceptable and warranted. They are neither, and we ask that they cease.
In addition, the FPA is concerned regarding the continuing detention of Palestinians who work with foreign media. We know of two such Palestinian journalists who have been under detention for weeks: Yussri Al-Jamal of Reuters TV and photographer Ossam Abu Alan of AFP; in addition, Khalil Hamra, a photographer from Rafah, Gaza, who is an occasional contributor to AP, has been detained since Friday.
In these cases, and in others that preceded them, the media organizations involved were provided with no indication of the reasons for the arrest beyond the most general of allegations. As far as we can tell, no real effort was made to speed up the handling of the cases and to account for the extremely problematic aspect of the arrest of journalists. Government officials routinely underscore that, indeed, they do not recognize these Palestinians as journalists – and this is a position we utterly reject and deplore.
We urge the Government of Israel to handle such detentions with the urgency they merit, provide the employers with concrete information on any charges, and failing this release the detainees without delay.
The FPA Board,
10 June, 2002
The Foreign Press Association is gravely concerned about the repeated detentions of Palestinians working with the international media in the West Bank.
AFP photographer Hossam Abu Alan has been detained for more than a week without explanation. We call on the Israeli authorities to either release him immediately or make public the charges or suspicions against him, thus avoiding
the impression that journalists are being targeted for harrasment and arrest. Yesterday two journalists working with Reuters TV were detained in Hebron. While Mazen Dana has been released, Jussry al-Jamal remains detained, again without
Israeli officials said the two were not recognized as journalists by the State of Israel, meaning that they did not carry Government Press Office accreditation. This argument is utterly absurd considering that since January
the GPO has, with few exceptions, denied accreditation to Palestinians. Furthermore the GPO is now openly reneging on an agreement reached two months ago to provide accreditation to Palestinians good for the West Bank only.
We call on the State of Israel to reconsider this lamentable and counter-productive decision.
The FPA Board,
May 1, 2002
This morning in Bethlehem the IDF confiscated the Government Press Office cards of at least 17 journalists, Palestinians and foreigners, representing the BBC, Reuters, AP, AFP and other international media.
The officer who confiscated the cards told the journalists that the area was a closed military zone _ but he did not produce any document to back up the claim.
The cards were confiscated about 400 meters away from the Church of the Nativity, in an area where journalists have in the past not been stopped by Israeli soldiers. Furthermore, an Israeli TV crew was allowed much closer to Manger Square only Sunday.
The arbitrary and unfounded enforcement of these restrictions amounts to a transparent attempt to control and restrict coverage of the standoff at the church that far exceeds any conceivable security justification.
It also violates the spirit of the assurance given to the FPA by the military last week that the closed military zone policy would be lifted.
We call on the IDF to immediately return the journalists' GPO cards and stop all efforts to impede coverage of the crisis.
The FPA Board,
April 22, 2002
The FPA expresses its grave concern at the arrest of long-standing AP reporter Mohammed Daraghneh at his home in Nablus today, together with other neighbors in his building.
The scant information made available by the authorities during the course of the day regarding this arrest is contradictory and perplexing. The claim that Daraghneh was operating without a GPO card is extraordinary in view of the fact that the GPO has refused to issue press cards to Palestinians in the West Bank.
We call on the authorities to expedite his release and, in general, to enable journalists to carry out their work -- be they foreign, Israeli or Palestinian.
The FPA Board,
April 16, 2002
The FPA strongly protests the decision to make Bethlehem a closed military zone.
For four days we have been attempting to persuade the authorities to lift the closed military zone in Ramallah. Instead of doing that, today the IDF has expanded this policy to include Bethlehem.
We reiterate: closing entire cities to the media indefinitely is an extreme and unjustifiable measure that makes it impossible for the media to do its job. An effort to impose a total news blackout from combat zones serves no
We again call on Israel to uphold the freedom of the press by reversing this unfortunate policy.
The FPA Board,
April 2, 2002
The FPA strongly protests the expulsion of a CBS News crew from Ramallah today and repeats its call on the Israeli authorities to immediately end their interference with media coverage of the operation in Ramallah and other PA areas.
Closing an entire city to the media indefinitely is an extreme and unjustified policy that makes it impossible for us to cover the important story unfolding here.
We call on Israel to uphold the freedom of the press by reversing this policy.
The FPA Board,
April 1, 2002
The Foreign Press Association is shocked by this morning's events around Ramallah in which a journalist was killed and another seriously injured. We call on all sides to the fighting to make every possible effort to avoid harming journalists or impeding their work.
Journalists are the primary independent witnesses to this conflict. They are in practically all cases easily identifiable as journalists. They should not only not be targeted; extraordinary means are required by all sides to ensure that their safety and freedom of movement are not impaired.
We call on the IDF and the PA to investigate immediately and fully what happened and punish those found responsible. We must note that previous such requests -- and our warnings that laxness could lead to a tragedy – went largely unheeded.
The FPA Board
March 13, 2002
FPA STATEMENT, January 15, 2002
We, the undersigned bureau chiefs of foreign media organizations in Israel and the Palestinian Authority territories, are deeply disturbed by the Israeli government's refusal to renew press accreditations for our Palestinian staff and certain foreign journalists following the Dec. 31 expiration of old Government Press Office cards.
This has already resulted in significant difficulties for us in covering the important story of the Israeli Palestinian conflict in a fair and balanced manner.
We therefore call on the Government of Israel to resolve the problem by renewing without delay the relevant accreditations.
Go Kamoshida : NHK TV Japan
Angela Rodicio : TV2 (Spain)
Niel McDonald : CBC Canadian TV
Gillain Findlay and Bruno Nota : ABC (USA)
Chris Clark and Tim Palmer : ABC Australia
Conny Mus : RTL News Holland
Katrin Sandmann : Sat1 Germany
Bertrand Aguirre : TF1 (France)
Charles Enderlin : France 2 (France)
Dan Perry : Associated Press
Paulo Longo : RAI TV (Italy)
Andrew Steele : BBC (Great Britain)
Christian Chaise : AFP (france)
Mike Hanna : CNN (USA)
Christian Furst : DPA Germany
Peter M. Dudzik : ARD Germany
Wael Abu- Dagga : Al Jazeera (Qatar)
Gaby Silon : CBS News (USA)
Alexander von Sobeck : ZDF (Germany)
Timothy Heritage : Reuters
AmyTeibel : Dow Jones Newswires (USA)
Jonathan Ferziger : Bloomberg News (USA)
Guido Olimpio : Corriera della Sera (Italy)
Adi Tal : netwerk KRO,AVRO,NCRV (Holland)
Pierre Weill : Radio France (France)
Martin Fletcher : NBC (USA)
Elaine Fletcher : Newhouse Religion News Service
Tracy Wilkinson : Los Angeles Times (USA)
Alexandra Schwartzbrod : Liberation (France)
Jet vanWijk :ANP Dutch National Press
Joerg Bremer : Frankfurter Allgemeine