The International Federation of Journalists said today that Israeli border police who terrorized a group of journalists and assaulted a cameraman in West Bank city of Hebron reflected a “continuing mood of prejudice and intolerance” among Israeli security personnel in their dealings with media.
“Over the past year the antagonism towards Palestinian journalists has risen to unacceptable levels of intimidation,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary after reports that Mamoun Wazwaz, a Reuters cameraman was beaten up on Tuesday.
He was with a group of 13 Palestinian journalists leaving a Reuters colleague’s home border police accosted them. According to witnesses Wazwaz was knocked to the ground, and one of the policemen hit him in the leg with a rifle. He was taken to hospital where he was treated and released. Journalists in the group were shoved against a wall and held at gunpoint. They claim the attack was unprovoked and said a policeman held a gun to the head of one of their colleagues.
“This is becoming a routine feature of life for Palestinian journalists in the region,” said Aidan White, “Israeli forces are understandably deeply concerned by the current crisis, but they must not express their frustration by the use of violence and intimidation against journalists”.
The IFJ is calling for a full investigation of the incident and for the border police responsible to be disciplined.
Israeli forces reoccupied Hebron this week after Palestinian gunmen killed five border police, four soldiers and three settler security men in an ambush on Friday night.
Earlier this year Palestinian journalists were formally stripped of any professional recognition when Israel refused to issue them with local official press cards. “A signal has been sent that Palestinian journalists have no professional status,” said White, “As a result relations between media staff and security forces, which have never been good, are now rock bottom.”
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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries