French journalist Didier Francois, the correspondent of the French newspaper “Liberation” and the French international TV news station France 24, sustained a bullet wound to the leg during the clashes that began early on 17 December 2006 in Gaza between the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and Fatah militants.
“We urge President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh to appeal for calm and to do everything possible to ensure the safety of both Palestinian journalists and foreign correspondents in the Palestinian territories,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“Journalists have been the targets of violence since the start of this year,” the press freedom organisation added. “At least three Palestinian radio stations have been ransacked and six foreign journalists have been the victims of kidnappings. The press is regularly caught in the crossfire between the different factions, especially in clashes between Fatah and Hamas.”
Francois, 46, was hit in the leg while covering clashes between Abbas bodyguards and Hamas militants near the president’s office. He was initially treated at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza before being taken to Israel. His life is not in danger.
A Palestinian cameraman working for France 2 was threatened by interior ministry officials while filming the clashes. His video recordings were destroyed.
Because of its concern about journalists’ safety, Reporters Without Borders visited the Gaza Strip and Israel from 4 to 7 December, meeting leaders of different factions, including Fatah and Hamas, and media representatives. A report will soon be published about the difficulties journalists encounter in the Palestinian territories as a result of the endemic inter-factional violence.