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Statements 2014

Statements 2014

The Foreign Press calls on the Israeli border police to put an immediate end to a wave of attacks on journalists. In just over a week, border police officers have carried out at least four attacks on journalists working for international media organizations, injuring reporters and damaging expensive equipment. These attacks all appear to have been unprovoked:

_ On Oct. 26, an AP photographer in the West Bank village of Silwad was shot with rubber-coated pellets fired at close range by a border policeman who jumped out of a jeep and fired without warning. The pellets were released simultaneously out of a single canister, injuring a second photographer as well

_ On Oct. 31, a CCTV correspondent and cameraman covering Friday prayers in east Jerusalem had a stun grenade thrown directly at their feet from a distance of three meters. After the attack, a commander ordered the officer not to throw stun grenades at journalists.

_ On Nov. 2, a Reuters journalist covering a visit to the Temple Mount by an Israeli lawmaker was shoved by a border policeman without explanation. The border policeman tried to grab the reporter’s passport and ripped the front pocket of his shirt. Several hours later, another border policeman swore at a Reuters photographer in the Old City, pushed him and grabbed his camera. The border policeman than snapped the lens off the camera in a fit of rage, destroying an 8,000-shekel piece of equipment. 

The FPA strongly protests such unwarranted attacks on its members. Unfortunately, such incidents have become all too common in recent years, despite repeated appeals and meetings with the relevant authorities. We once again call on the Israeli border police to respect the rights of journalists to do their jobs and uphold Israel’s stated commitment to freedom of the press.

November 3rd 2014 

The Foreign Press Association deplores the Israeli authorities’ closing of the Erez border crossing into the Gaza Strip from Friday, November 1, until further notice, with no reason given.

Even before this closure, the FPA also received numerous complaints about difficulties experienced by journalists seeking to enter or leave Gaza. 

Foreign journalists in Israel and the Palestinian territories work according to the law, and object vociferously to these restrictions on our ability to move freely and do our jobs. 

We call on the Israeli authorities to lift these restrictions without delay. We also remind them of an Israeli Supreme Court decision from 2009 endorsing the principle of unfettered access to the Gaza Strip for foreign media. 

November 3rd, 2014 

 Following two incidents in which journalists were directly attacked by border police, the FPA wishes to reiterate that deliberate attacks on identifiable journalists on assignment are not acceptable. 

In one incident, a CCTV correspondent and cameraman covering Friday prayers in Jerusalem’s Old City had a stun grenade thrown directly at them from a distance of three meters away. This happened just seconds after a border policeman shouted at them to leave. 

In a direct indication that it was clear to the forces that they were not to act this way, the commander reprimanded him, suggesting that although such orders exist, they are not always enforced on the ground. 

Two days later, an AP photographer and another foreign journalist were hit by rubber bullets fired at close range by a border policeman as they took pictures of protesters in the West Bank town of Silwad. They were not near the protesters at the time and the area had not been designated as off limits. 

The FPA strongly protests the deliberate act of firing of tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets at journalists who are clearly identifiable and demands that clear orders be given to this effect to the forces operating the ground, with any violation swiftly disciplined. 

October 28th 2014 

Photojournalists from AP, AFP and Reuters were covering the protest march after Friday prayers in Hebron today when Israeli security forces began firing rubber bullets at the protesters. As in previous incidents, the forces then hurled stun grenades towards the press crews to try to disburse them. An AP TV journalist was detained, an AFP photographer was roughly deterred from covering the event and a rubber bullet hit the wind-shied of the Reuters TV vehicle, clearly marked with "PRESS TV". The photographers and camera crews were standing apart from the protesters.

The FPA has countless times condemned and protested against the IDF and border police for using strong arm tactics against known and recognised press photographers in these situations. The authorities have just as many times promised to investigate these incidents and somehow the results of these investigations seem to disappear into the dustbin of history.

Press freedom is the signal of a civilised nation. The assault and humiliation of reporters trying to do their work is unacceptable and falls far, far below the standards that the IDF in all its branches says it adheres to.

August 15th, 2014 

The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month. 

The international media are not advocacy organisations and cannot be prevented from reporting by means of threats or pressure, thereby denying their readers and viewers an objective picture from the ground. 

In several cases, foreign reporters working in Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media. 

We are also aware that Hamas is trying to put in place a "vetting" procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists. Such a procedure is vehemently opposed by the FPA.

 August 11, 2014

The FPA strongly condemns deliberate official and unofficial incitement against journalists working to cover the current warfare under very difficult circumstances as well as forcible attempts to prevent journalists and TV crews from carrying out their news assignments. While we do not condone the use of invective by any side, outright attacks on journalists are absolutely unacceptable.

On Tuesday, IDF forces aimed live fire at the Al Jazeera offices in Gaza City. The offices are on the 11th floor of a known commercial  centre. The IDF apologised claiming it was in error and said they would investigate the incident.

Also Tuesday, FPA member Firas Khatib of BBC Arabic was physically attacked and abused in the midst of a live feed on the Israeli side of the border.  July 23, 2014

In Hebron today a number of foreign media crews were covering the solidarity protest for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, CNN were directly targeted by the PA police and preventive security forces. In the midst of clearing and breaking up the protest, the undercover police attacked the CNN crew including senior correspondent, Ben Wedeman, Cameraman Joe Sheffer and producer Kareem Khadder without any warning. One of the plain clothes undercover police was overheard giving orders to take the camera from the cameraman. The crew kept trying to save the EX1 Sony camera but another undercover policeman kept grabbing it from them until it lay in pieces. As well as being bruised and scratched, the crew were accused of "incitement".

The FPA condemns this behaviour towards known journalists in the strongest terms and we call on the heads of the various security forces to clearly instruct their underlings to stay clear of journalists on assignment in the field. Deliberate violence and intimidation against professional journalists carrying out their work anywhere is totally unacceptable.  20th June 2014

The FPA strongly condemns the thuggish behaviour and deliberate intimidation demonstrated by Israeli border police against journalists and cameramen covering the events at Damascus Gate on Jerusalem Day 28.5.2014 .

Despite the fact that both the photographers and cameramen stood in an area designated for the press, mounted border police officers aggressively forced them to move far from the scene. Others were violently pushed, kicked and blocked from working. One photographer was punched in the stomach while he had his hands in the air, another was hit in the stomach with an M16 and a third narrowly avoided a punch to the face. 

The border police also threw stun grenades directly at photographers, in a display of aggression which has shocked veteran photographers and cameramen who have worked in the region for a long time. 

Although the foreign police spokesman came quickly to the scene, his intervention made no practical difference whatsoever, with the forces continuing to lash out at accredited journalists trying to work – Israelis, Palestinians and foreigners alike. Police also failed to prevent demonstrators from attacking journalists – in one case marchers snatched a large tripod from a photographer and beat him with it. 

Repeated requests expressed by the FPA in meetings with the various authorities, have brought no concrete results. The FPA can only conclude that this level of aggression against journalists doing their job, is less a matter of orders given by commanders on the ground at any given time, but rather a clear change in policy towards the media in general. In a country which brands itself the only democracy in the Middle East, this level of aggression against the press cannot be tolerated and we urge the authorities to open an immediate investigation to determine who was responsible and ensure it does not happen again. 29th May 2014.  

 The FPA condemns in the strongest terms the attack on journalists in Ramallah. The FPA insists that everyone respect the right of journalists on assignment to work unharmed in order to freely and unhindered pursue their profession. We ask the authorities in Ramallah to take responsibility to prevent such attacks in the future. May 5th, 2014 

The FPA joins the AP to strongly protest a shooting incident yesterday ( Sunday) near the Aida refugee camp, in which it appears a border policeman fired on a marked AP car as it was obeying instructions to leave. The details are these:

 _ On Sunday, AP television cameraman Eyad Moghrabi rushed to Aida camp to film clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters. 

_ He encountered border police just outside Aida’s entrance, next to the separation barrier. A policeman told him to leave. 

_ He immediately turned around, and as he drove away, he heard a loud thump. Terrified, he fled the area and later discovered a bullet hole in the back of his car. 

_ This morning, an investigation found that the bullet penetrated only the outer layer of the car. Based on the size of the hole, we believe the damage was caused by a round, rubber-coated bullet used by the border police to disperse crowds.

 The Associated Press strongly condemns the unnecessary and apparently intentional use of this weapon against an unarmed journalist. Moghrabi was nowhere near any of the protesters at the time and had clearly obeyed the security forces' orders. He was wearing a blue vest marked "press" and was driving in a car with "Foreign Press" stickers in the windows. 

 The Associated Press demands an explanation why Israeli forces deemed him a threat and would attack him unprovoked. 

 Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a string of heavy-handed assaults by border police on journalists. These raise troubling questions about the professionalism of Israeli security forces and the government's commitment to freedom of the press. Security personnel should have the clearest possible instructions not only to not attack media members but to provide them protection and treat them with respect. March 24th, 2014

 The FPA condemns in the strongest of terms a series of text messages sent to the mobile phones of well over 60 foreign correspondents and journalists working for foreign news outlets from what appears to be a carefully selected data base set up by the military wing of Hamas, the al-Qassam Brigades. These messages, which included direct threats to our members including one from ``kill you'' that said ``Hamas ... In the next war all of Palestine will be returned'' and one from a 057 number that said ``al-Qassam has chosen you to be The next SHalite .. Be Ready.'' 

This is unacceptable. Journalists are not part of the Middle East conflict. They are observers who should be treated as such. 

The FPA calls on the Hamas government to take steps to guarantee this never happens again. March 23rd, 2014.

 The FPA deplores yet again violence by Israeli security forces directed at journalists.

During clashes tonight at the Damascus Gate, a border policeman fired a rubber bullet from close quarters at a Reuters cameraman in an apparent effort to prevent him filming the arrest of a protester. Another border policeman then clubbed his video camera, smashing the light. An AP photographer was punched in the face and suffered a bloody nose.

The FPA has repeatedly issued statements condemning the behavior of certain members of the Israeli security forces. The authorities routinely play down our concerns or fail to carry out timely investigations of our complaints. Such violence will surely one day lead to serious injury, or even worse. So we therefore repeat our request for the security forces to allow FPA members to carry out their jobs in a professional manner, as befits any democracy. We ask the police and army not to deliberately target journalists and we ask them to investigate fully repeated instances of clear wrong-doing by the security forces.

March 11th 2014

 The Foreign Press Association condemns the behavior of an Israeli policeman who acted in a violent, provocative and unprofessional fashion during disturbances on Feb. 28 in East Jerusalem.

The man In question, who was wearing a balaclava that clearly identified him as a policeman, rushed wildly towards a group of journalists recording the day’s clashes and pointed his pistol straight at their faces. A short while later, the same policeman hurled a stun grenade at a some photographers who were standing just a short distance away and again brandished his gun at nearby reporters.

We call on the Israeli police to do their utmost to guarantee the safety of journalists and provide more thorough training for their officers to prevent such incidents, which one day will surely end in tragedy.

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