IFJ demands Israeli army return film footage of Bethlehem siege

The IFJ today called on the Israeli authorities to hand over film tapes of the siege of the Church of the Nativity taken from inside the Church by a British journalist who was deported after the siege ended.

Two journalists with Oxford-based Undercurrents News, Paul O’Connor and Jaquie Soohen, were covering the siege and Jaquie had filmed the only images from inside the Church during the standoff between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians who had taken refuge in the church.

She left five tapes of footage hidden in the church and was deported by the authorities. When the Israeli army found the tapes, they made duplicates that they handed to the BBC which broadcast them on Sunday, June 8.

Although BBC producers were shown the tapes, they were not allowed to take anything other than the images used.

“These tapes are the property of journalists who were covering this important event from the inside and who deserve to be treated with professional respect,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “They should be returned forthwith.”

The IFJ is writing to the Israeli Defence Force asking for the tapes to be handed back to the journalists.

The question of the treatment of journalists and their work was one of the major questions tackled by an international delegation of journalists’ leaders who visited Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza last week. “Journalists are doing a difficult and dangerous job in intolerable circumstances,” said Aidan White. “The least they should expect is that their property will be returned to them.”

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.