Reporters Without Borders has condemned the action of the Israeli authorities in turning back French journalist Houda Ibrahim, of Radio France Internationale (RFI), as she tried to cross into the West Bank from Jordan on 3 July 2005.
“It is completely unacceptable that a French journalist, who is moreover representing the French government, should be prevented from doing her job, and we call on the Israeli government to explain this arbitrary measure,” the organisation said.
Ibrahim, who has worked for RFI and RMC-Info radio stations for eight years, is currently seconded to RFI’s training division. With the French government’s approval, she was assigned to train young Palestinian journalists during a seven-day visit to the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah, as well as Bir Zeit University.
Ibrahim flew from Paris to the Jordanian capital of Amman and went overland in a French consulate vehicle to the West Bank border, where she was refused entry into the occupied Palestinian territories. After a six-hour wait at the Allenby Bridge crossing, the journalist was forced to turn back. Before expelling her, Israeli soldiers accused her of possessing firearms and subjected her to a search.
Ibrahim showed the Israeli authorities a French Foreign Ministry letter confirming that she is a journalist and authorising her to conduct the training mission, but they took no account of the document. The French consular official accompanying her was unable to intercede on her behalf. Ibrahim was previously expelled from Israel in 2001 after interviewing Yasser Arafat.