The FPA condemns in the strongest terms the assault by Israeli soldiers of two of our members in Hebron earlier this week. As in previous times of military engagement in the region, IDF Spokesman's offices know where the media is based as it is public knowledge.
Yousri Al Jamal and Ma'amoun Wazwaz, both highly experienced cameramen who work for Reuters, were stopped while driving to the scene of a shooting incident in the heart of the city. Their car was clearly marked 'TV' and they were both wearing blue flak jackets with 'Press' emblazoned on the front. The soldiers forced them to leave the vehicle at gun point, punching them and hitting them with the butts of their guns. The two men were not allowed to show their ID and were made to strip and kneel in the street with their hands behind their head. One of the soldiers then dropped a tear gas canister infront of the men and the IDF patrol ran away. More tear gas was fired as Jamal and Wazwaz tried to escape the scene. Wazwaz was overwhelmed by the fumes and needed hospital treatment. The soldiers confiscated their gas masks and their video camera, which was later found abandoned near the scene.
The FPA welcomes the army decision to carry out a full investigation into the incident and expects that the soldiers involved face severe consequences for their actions.
The FPA is also concerned about other incidents in Hebron this week, notably attempts by the military to move AFP and Reuters photographers away from their usual position on the sidelines of clashes, pushing them towards the ranks of the stone-throwers, where they inevitably stand a much greater risk of injury from Israeli fire.
The FPA notes in addition that it is still awaiting the results of a criminal investigation that the army said it had opened into an attack on an FPA member at Qadum village on Friday August 17th
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 says it adheres to.
The Board of the Foreign Press Association 14th December 2012.
The Foreign Press Association condemns the unprovoked abuse of an FPA photo journalist by Israeli soldiers earlier this afternoon. The clearly marked press photographer was walking toward his car with a colleague having covered a demonstration near the Bir Zeit crossing.
The car was parked behind some soldiers, four of whom approached the photographers and proceeded to hit, kick and verbally abuse them. An official complaint was lodged with an IDF officer.
The FPA calls upon the IDF for a thorough investigation of the incident, to hold those responsible to account and also urge those responsible to reinforce the IDF's commitment to the basic principles of a free press which allow for our members to conduct their professional duties without fear of attack, abuse or arrest.
The Board of the FPA 20th November 2012
The Foreign Press Association is concerned at the attacks by the Israeli IDF on buildings housing journalists in Gaza last night.
The IDF stated this morning that “The sites that we targeted overnight were all positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of months.”
One building houses or has been used by the following FPA members: British news organisations Sky News, and Sky News Arabia, MBC TV ,Al Arabiya, ORF and other European broadcasters.
The other one the Shawa Husseiri building house: ARD TV. Eight journalists working for various organizations were injured.
On the 23 December 2006 the UN Security Council, some of whose permanent members had media organisations which were in the buildings targeted, unanimously adopted resolution 1738 which ‘condemns attacks against journalists in conflict situations.
The resolution states that the UNSC
“Unanimously adopting resolution 1738 (2006), the Council recalled, without prejudice to the war correspondents’ right to the status of prisoners of war under the Third Geneva Convention, that journalists, media professionals and associated personnel engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered civilians, to be respected and protected as such”
The FPA urges all sides in the current fighting to do their utmost to protect the safety of journalists and remind all sides of the UN Security Council resolution 1738 which condemns attacks against journalists in conflict situations.The Board of the FPA November 18th 2012
Further to the IDF response:
We stand by our characterization of the behaviour of the soldiers concerned We are pleased you accept that what is depicted is unacceptable behaviour. It may, as you say, not be representative of the wider IDF. But beating unarmed journalists with clubs is thuggish behaviour and deserves to be called such.
We look forward to the outcome of your inquiry. The Foreign Press Association
To the FPA,
We are writing you in response to your complaint regarding the conduct of IDF soldiers shown in a video published August 17th 2012.
First it should be noted that the images depicted in the video do not represent the high ethical standards of the IDF to which all soldiers are held. Once brought to the attention of the IDF the matter was regarded with seriousness and is currently under investigation. It should be noted that the video only reflects a partial sequence of the events that transpired and as such only following a thorough investigation can decisive conclusions be made.
Our long standing relationship with the FPA and its members is a testament to our commitment and dedication to transparency, professionalism, and accountability. The IDF holds its soldiers to an ethical code that is unparalleled. As such, we find your characterization of IDF soldiers to be unfitting.
Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich
Head of the Foreign Press Branch
IDF Spokesperons Unit
Sadly it has not been unusual after the Arab uprisings for the armed forces from countries in the middle east to carry out unprovoked brutal attacks on journalists.
They are rightly condemned by the world's democracies. So the Foreign Press Association expects immediate and public action by the self declared 'only democracy in the middle east' following Fridays premeditated beating of clearly marked, identifiable members of the press by the IDF.
The IDF claims to be a professional accountable organisation. The 'soldiers' shown attacking our colleagues are acting like a bunch of thugs. The images we see here are usually associated with failing dictatorships. Their actions are simply criminal assault and it should be treated that way by the Israeli authorities if they want the world and the world's media to treat the IDF like the professional army it claims to be.
The Board of the Foreign Press Association August 19th, 2012.
The Foreign Press Association condemns in the strongest terms the abuse of a journalist trying to go about his legitimate work at the president’s office. In the latest instance, a photographer with the German EPA newsagency was told by security he would have to undergo a strip search if he wanted to cover Tuesday’s meeting between the Israeli and German presidents.
The journalist in question holds a valid GPO card and an Israeli ID. He understandably refused to submit to such demeaning treatment. As a result, many important media around the world will not receive images of Tuesday’s encounter -- an unnecessary own goal by Israeli officialdom.
It must be stressed that the FPA has always recognized legitimate Israeli security concerns. But once again, the guards have gone overboard. We strongly urge the president’s office to revisit its policies to find the proper balance between protecting Mr. Peres and ensuring that journalists can work in a dignified and professional manner.
The Board of the Foreign Press Association 29th May, 2012
Once again, the army has its priorities wrong and looks at the international media as the enemy. The army should worry about the behavior of its soldiers, not the international media.
The Board of the Foreign Press Association 17.4.2012
There are times when we make complaints about attacks on members of the FPA by the IDF and it could be argued that our members were on occasions partly at fault, or that it was an accident or that perhaps our member is over reacting to the incident.
And there are times when we make a complaint and to ignore that complaint would be to undermine, indeed make a mockery, of the claim made to the world by the Israeli Government and its people that the IDF is a professional accountable institution.
What happened to our colleague, Bethlehem based photographer Musa al-Shaer, during a weekly demonstration in the West bank village of Maasara, and which was captured by this you-tube footage is frankly a disgrace. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVzh-OGZejo
No professional army should tolerate this kind of behavior from its members. It was only the camera that was smashed. It could so easily have been his face.
We expect an investigation and action to be taken against this 'soldier'. We also expect compensation for the broken equipment.
And we expect this do be done in an open, transparent and speedy manner
And we expect a response to this email.
We believe we have the right to expect all this from you because we attend goodness knows how many press conferences, receive countless press handouts and listen to countless spokes people from the IDF tell us over and over again that it is a professional accountable institution and any claims made otherwise are biased propaganda.
So we'd like to see that professional accountability that the IDF talks so proudly about in action regarding this incident.
The Board of the Foreign Press Association, March 19th 2012